On Wednesday 27th December 1967 Queen of the South left the Thames under tow for the breaker’s yard in Antwerp.
She was built in 1931 as Jeanie Deans for the LNER ferry services and summer excursions based on Craigendoran on the Clyde. After war service, first as a minesweeper and then as an anti-aircraft vessel, she returned to the Clyde and during the 1950s was much associated with the long afternoon excursions round Bute. During the 1960s up to her withdrawal at the end of the 1964 season she operated week and week about with Waverley on this same route with the alternating weeks seeing her visiting Brodick, Arrochar, Round the Lochs and upriver to Glasgow.
Don Rose’s Coastal Steam Packet Company bought her in the autumn of 1965 and tried to run her on the Thames on trips from Tower Pier to Southend, Herne Bay and Clacton with spectacular lack of success during the summers of 1966 and 1967 during which she sailed for only a handful of days and steadily accumulated a mountain of debt.
Don had been persuaded to buy her by Tony McGinnity on the basis that she was still in relatively good nick. Sadly that turned out to have been a tad on the optimistic side. Built in 1931 she was thirty-five years old in 1966, ten years older than the usual expected lifetime of a ship. And whilst she had been rebuilt after the Second World War that was twenty years behind her by then. By 1966 she needed major expenditure on the structure and fabric of the ship and her machinery.
Then there was the crew. I have no doubt that they were all decent, well intentioned and, in their own ways, experienced seafarers. But coming in cold to a ship and starting the operating procedures from scratch in a new and complex business in the seasonal excursion trade is a big ask for anyone. Without a knowledge base being passed down from more experienced hands it takes a while for even the best to get their feet properly under the table and acquaint themselves with all the idiosyncrasies which go into the making of a smooth and faultless operation. And I think that it is fair to say that Queen of the South suffered from operational difficulties and a certain degree of lack of experience in some quarters in both 1966 and 1967.
And so Queen of the South ex Jeanie Deans left the Thames on 27th December 1967 for the scrapyard in Antwerp.
This article was first published on 27th December 2020.