Shipping & Shipbuilding News -  10 May 2007 - The Brightest Maritime Daily

KENILWORTH on her last days as the Gourock-Kilcreggan ferry

The gleaming brasses in THE SECOND SNARK's wheelhouse

New lease of life for veteran ferry
Two thirties legends to perform summer duties on the Clyde's National Park Ferry Service

Last month we may have been premature when we talked about the end of an era on the Clyde as the venerable once-Southampton-based ferry, the KENILWORTH was retired from the Gourock-Kilcreggan-Helensburgh service on the Clyde, to be replaced by the new ferry mv SEABUS.

We were delighted to hear from Clyde Marine's Hamish Munro therefore to tell us that the vintage passenger vessel has found a new lease of life on an exciting venture being run by the Greenock company.

The 1936-built vessel will accompany another thirties legend, the Denny-built THE SECOND SNARK of 1938 to take passengers and tourists to the lovely village of Blairmore, with its newly re-opened pier, and either a visit to the famed Benmore Botanic Gardens or a cruise up one of the Clyde's loveliest lochs, Loch Long, to Lochgoil. Billed as The National Park Ferry Service, it affords the chance to cruise the spectacular and beautiful Firth of Clyde.

Two trips are on offer every day from Greenock and Helensburgh. A morning sail to Blairmore, and again in the afternoon with the option of the cruise to Loch Long.

"What we are trying to do here is create a new market for THE SECOND SNARK and KENILWORTH" said Hamish Munro. Indeed 'new' might not be the best way of describing a tradition that stretches back to the days of our great-great-grandparents! With the the use of these two vintage ships, as well as calling at the once-closed Blairmore Pier, one really can describe a day out on this new cruise option on the Clyde as 'stepping back in time'.

The KENILWORTH is a vessel with a long and varied career, stretching back to her days as the HOTSPUR II when she started life as the Southampton-Hythe ferry. She was  built in 1936 by Rowhedge Ironworks Company, Colchester. She was taken to the Clyde by her operators Clyde Marine of Greenock in 1979 and began operating on the service she was to perform until April 2007, 28 years later almost exactly to the day.

In her time on the Clyde she attracted a faithful following of daily commuters, as well as day trippers, and her distinctive capabilities in rough seas earned her great respect. Now she has had a sensitive make-over and with a newly painted funnel and varnished wheelhouse, she evokes the old days of the Clyde steamers. A tradition carried on indeed by the ps WAVERLEY.

As for THE SECOND SNARK (affectionately known on the Clyde as 'the Snarkle'), she is a classic example of Clyde workmanship, with her Burma teak decks and rugged, yet elegant construction. She was built as a tender for Wm Denny, the shipbuilders of Dumbarton, but her duties were not always hum-drum. The Denny's themselves would use her for private trips and entertaining.

Together these vessels, both listed in the National Register of Historic Vessels, provide a welcome addition to the many and varied sailing experiences people from, and visitors to, the Clyde can enjoy, taking in the variable weather and the chance to see other ships plying the waters and the more natural inhabitants of the Clyde such as porpoises, dolphins and seabirds.

Below are the timetables and fares for the National Park Ferry Service

Morning Cruise to Blairmore
(with Benmore Botanic Gardens option)
Greenock depart 1030
Helensburgh arrive 1055
Helensburgh depart 1100
Blairmore arrive 1140
Blairmore depart 1145
Greenock arrive 1225

Afternoon Cruise to Blairmore & Loch Goil
Greenock depart 1245
Helensburgh arrive 1310
Helensburgh depart 1315
Blairmore arrive 1355
Blairmore depart 1400
Cruise to entrance of Loch Goil
Blairmore arrive 1530
Blairmore depart 1535
Helensburgh arrive 1615
Helensburgh depart 1620
Greenock arrive 1645

Greenock departures from Victoria Harbour, near Greenock Central Railway Station

Bus connection to Benmore Botanic Gardens
Blairmore depart 1159
Benmore arrive 1214
Benmore depart 1515
Blairmore arrive 1530
(Bus fare and garden entrance fee must be paid separately)

Return Fares information
Greenock to Blairmore : 11.00
Greenock : Afternoon Cruise
to entrance of Loch Goil : 13.00
Helensburgh to Blairmore : 11.00
Helensburgh : Afternoon Cruise
to entrance of Loch Goil : 13.00
Blairmore Afternoon Cruise
to entrance of Loch Goil : 9.00
OAP concession : 2.00 off above fares
Child fares (3-15 incl) : 6.00
Children under 3, dogs and cycles : FREE


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