A couple of weeks ago, on 13th November, I had the privilege of going up to see the Scott II. She is being restored by Daniel Clark who has known her since he was a boy and whose father, James Clark, was her captain at one stage in her long history.
Scott II was ordered from Henry Robb’s as a one off design for icebreaking and tug duties on the Caledonian Canal, by the Ministry of Transport. Yard number 184 she was ordered to be of the dimensions 75’, 15’, 8’6”, 123 tons, and to have a speed of 9 ½ knots and cost £5500.
She was launched on 19.3.31 and was fully afloat in 35 seconds; trialled on 24.3.31 in calm, bright weather with a south easterly breeze, making 9.68 knots; sailed on 29.3.31 and was registered at Inverness.
Originally steam powered, she served on the canal from 1931 – 1960 keeping it clear of ice and carrying out all the canal maintenance including keeping the canal passable during WWII. Her ownership passed to British Waterways.
In 1960 she returned to Robb’s and was converted from steam to diesel power. The Kelvin 8 cylinder T8 with which she was fitted was the first of its type, and one of only two of the prototypes that were made. Dan has been led to believe that this engine was produced especially for the Scot II. The T8 engine is still in production to this day. Dan has managed to find her original engine and will be refitting it during his restoration of Scot II.
Scot II returned to the Caledonian Canal, and from 1961 to 1991 as well as carrying out icebreaking and tug duties began doing cruises on the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness. She was well known in the Great Glen, carrying 70 passengers, she was a well known sight on the canal. Dan was on board on her last sailing under her own power.
In 1992 British Waterways decided that they could not afford to keep Scot II cruising and laid her up. This was the start of her demise. She was leased out for 7 years as a floating pub and restaurant at Laggan Locks but was not maintained, Dan went up as often as he could to paint her “to try and keep her looking good”, the beginning of a long and determined quest on his part to bring her back to her former glory.
At the end of 1999 British Waterways cancelled the lease and took her back to restore her. They could not decide how to do this until 2001 and then hired two men, armed with a drawing which was not even to scale and without the skills needed to do the job. Far from bringing her back to her original condition, they began a heinous destruction, cutting doorways into her watertight bulkheads, removing her fixtures and fittings including davits and port holes, cutting off her superstructure and replacing it with a box resembling a container. The cost was around £140 000 and the result was that, far from being improved, she had been devalued. The canal manager was sacked because of this, but that can be of little consolation to anyone who cares about Scottish shipbuilding heritage. Needless to say the press and locals were furious about this, and were incensed to see her lying in Muirtown Basin in Inverness, a total mess.
To contact Dan to offer help towards her restoration, please email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further pictures of her current condition and more about her recent history will follow in another post.
Guess what I went to see this weekend
A trip to Fort Augustus
Some of Dan’s photos of Scot II
Scot II – Home on the Caledonian Canal – Part Two
Scot II Website Live
Copyright: Ruth Patterson 2010