Sir William’s big day out

Extract from an article in the Greenock Telegraph of Monday September 3rd 1962 marking the 150th anniversary of the launching of Bell’s Comet.

“A large flotilla of canoes, sailing dinghies, yachts and motor boats on Sunday last escorted the replica Comet, launched from the original slipway, on her journey to Helensburgh. The boiler fired by lignum vitae logs, worked well and the engine achieved the design speed of 5 knots. On arrival at Helensburgh, Sir William and Lady Lithgow with 10 invited dignitaries, all in period costume, were taken by a horse drawn carriage to a ceremony held at Henry Bell’s memorial. Refreshments for the dignitaries on the journey over to Helensburgh had been provided with a liberal supply of malt whisky. This, it appears, proved to be have been too great a temptation for the two engineers left on board who got completely “off their faces” and on Sir William’s return were unable to stand, far less operate machinery. As the boat set off on its return journey it started to rain and while the guests crouched under an umbrella, Sir William, averted certain capsize of the vessel by operating the bilge pump. Meanwhile, Lady Lithgow stoked the boiler single-handedly for the best part of 10 hours. Back home, she is currently under sedation. Sir William was understandably upset and was quoted as saying “Pity really. I’d have thought we could have got more than two knots an hour out of the “old girl”. Who he was referring to is unclear”

Myth and reality merged when Sir William’s son, remembering the event, bought this piece.

670mm(w) x 540m(h) x 100mm(d)

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