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Walter Scott‘s 1810 publication of The Lady of the Lake, an epic poem which sold 25,000 copies in eight months, triggered Scottish tourism, by rail and boat.
Tourism demand boomed:   the early six or eight oared galleys were replaced by the small 70′ steamboat Rob Roy (1845), then a 90′ steamyacht Rob Roy and lastly the 110′ steamship, Sir Walter Scott, launched in 1899 and still in daily service in 2018! All three steamers were built by Denny Bros. in Dumbarton.
Below, SS Sir Walter Scott is berthed at Trossachs Pier on Loch Katrine about 1906. Beyond her bow can be seen the retired Rob Roy.  Click on the photo for the source . . . and scroll.
Loch Katrine being land-locked, SS Sir Walter Scott was twice built:   first assembled at the Dumbarton Shipyard, then dismantled and sent north by barge and train to be re-assembled lochside. As you can see in the photo above, in 1906 she had an almost flat deck with no wheelhouse or bridge; the skipper had to peer through the crowd of passengers on the foredeck. She carried up to 515 closely packed visitors and 5 crew.
A 2017 view below shows her at the same pier, but the Rob Roy has gone and the Loch level had been raised by some 7ft. to provide more fresh water for Glasgow, about two million gallons (UK) per day. Her coal fired boilers were replaced with bio-fuel versions to avoid any risk of pollution, but the engine is still the original. She has a proper bridge making helming and berthing much easier. She cannot be turned  within the pier arm of the loch,  so a steel cable is taken to the aft quarter cleat, the engine reversed, so drawing her stern first into the pier.
In the The Lady of the Lake, Sir Walter refers to ” a far projecting precipice”. This is the view from there, clearly showing the bridge and the large saloon which was added reluctantly in 2009 for passenger comfort.
Occasionally in Scotland we suffer mist and gentle rain (smurring) which adds to the mystery of not knowing where you are going.
The foredeck is silent but for the gentle sound of the bow wave. In the distance are mountains (UK size) known as the Arrochar Alps. Below the mountains the white patches are Stronachlachar and the slipway where she was built and where we haul her out for a month each Winter. To the left are Ben Lomond at 3196′ and, over the hills and below, Loch Lomond.
Odds and ends:  Katrine is the anglicised version of the Gaelic Cateran, meaning an outlaw or robber. Both applied to Rob Roy MacGregor who lived at the head of the Loch.   Roderick Dhu, the MacAlpine chief in Scott’s poem, was the outlaw the Highlanders’ saluted with the boating song we in the USA now know as “Hail to the Chief”, set to music by James Sanderson.  Burning a cross was used in Scott’s epic poem to incite the Alpine Clan to violence  against King James.
At the same time as Sir Walter Scott,  Denny Dumbarton was also building the steam yacht 285′ Lysistrata (see #4) for the eccentric robber baron, “king of the dudes” J. Gordon Bennett. The yacht carried an owl as figurehead, the symbol of the New York Herald.
For a partial list of Denny Brothers vessels, click here.  For a much more extensive timeline, click here.

Many thanks for a very patient Robin Denny for assistance in this post.  Robins adds some notes here:

“Archibald Denny was chief designer at the Yard in 1899,  so would have overseen the SWS but he would have been my great-great uncle while my great-grandfather, John, was more on the commercial side but also an engineer. John died young at 27 years in 1869, the year his twin sons were born, one James being my grandfather. He became a mining engineer, eventually in charge of the Mexican silver (?) mines but died there of scarlet fever.
Going further back with two or three greats was Alexander who in 1855 built the Rob Roy II for the Loch after he had left Denny Brothers. That steamer carried Queen Victoria up the Loch to open the 26-mile tunnel supplying fresh water to Glasgow. Our family tree goes back to 1365 in Dumbarton. On the Leslie side it’s about 1040 and involved with MacBeth.”
For all the previous “relief posts,” click here.

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