Film – Clyde Shipping 1938

by Chris Jones on August 14, 2011

Here is a film of shipping activity on the River Clyde in 1938. There are scenes of excursion steamers heading “Doon the Watter” and into the Firth, the launch of a new vessel, a ship being coaled, cargo being loaded by the giant Stobcross crane and a passenger liner leaving for Canada.

A Scottish Films Production

This film begins with the relatively new turbine steamer Queen Mary II packed to capacity and leaving the Bridge Wharf for a trip “Doon the Watter”. Further down the quayside, one of the new two-funnelled paddle steamers, Juno or Jupiter, completed the year before, is moored. As we enter the Firth there are views of the turbine steamer Glen Sannox and the paddle steamer Duchess of Fife, a favorite on the Clyde that would last for fifty years. Passengers are shown enjoying themselves with on board activities or simply relaxing and taking in the beautiful scenery.

We are coming out of the Great Depression and this film tells of work on the Clyde, of the building of ships and activity in the docks where vessels are being readied for sea. Railway locomotives built in Glasgow are loaded onto a freighter by one of the heavy lift cranes and there is a scene of coaling activity at Rothesay Dock. As a ship moves downriver on its outward journey, its progress is delayed by the launch of the T. S. Canton from Alexander Stephen’s shipyard, an event which took place on 14th April, 1938. Clyde Shipping Company tugs are in attendance, ready to escort the new vessel to the fitting out facility at Shieldhall where she will be completed for service with the P. & O. Line. The way is now clear for traffic and there is a fine view of the Anchor Donaldson liner Athenia passing Yorkhill Quay where one of the three-funnelled Anchor liners, either the T.S.S. Caledonia or Transylvania, is moored.

As the Athenia heads out into the open sea en route to Canada, the clouds of war were gathering in Europe and this fine vessel would become the first British ship to be lost, torpedoed as she was outward bound on September 3, 1939, the day when Great Britain declared war on Germany.

Thanks to robbeale for uploading this video to YouTube.

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Katrina Mather October 20, 2011 at 5:53 am

Thank you for putting up this video – it’s wonderful. I had my first trip on the Waverley on Friday and absolutely loved it. We are just finishing our new website and looking for ‘interesting links’, so I am going to suggest this website – it’s just great!

Best wishes, Katrina

Chris Jones October 22, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Hi Katrina,

Thanks for your comment and you’re welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed the film and thanks must go to Scottish Films for producing it and to Rob Beale for uploading it to YouTube.

I’m glad you enjoyed your trip on the Waverley. Did you see the engines in action? This fine steamer has always been my favorite.

Good luck with your new website.

Best wishes,


Peter Rolf May 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm

The SS Canton was launched by Thalia Shaw, daughter of the 2nd Lord Craigmyle, on the 14th April 1938. Thalia (b 1918) died in 2000. She has four portraits in the National Portrait Gallery in London but which are not currently online.


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