Friday, 22 April 2011

John Gardner, marine artist, more images

Cutty Sark

"Her cutty sark, o' Paisley harn,
That while a lassie she had worn,
In longitude tho' sorely scanty,
It was her best, and she was vauntie."

Designed by Hercules Linton, construction started by his firm of Scott & Linton for shipowners John Willis, but her specification was so high that she bankrupted them, so the hull was towed across the River Leven to be finished by Denny Brothers. She was launched on 22 November 1869 and is one of only two surviving composite clippers, along with City of Adelaide, below.

Following a serious fire in May 2007 her restoration has changed course and now involves raising the ship above the level of her dock and incorporating her in a novel architectural construction, which her Preservation Trust confidently states will ensure her future for at least fifty years without the need for further maintenance! The project can be visited at


Passat and Pommern were two of the famous "Flying P" ships operated by the shipowner Ferdinand Laeisz of Hamburg. He had idiosyncratic views about how to operate a shipping line and was enormously successful as a result. Reasoning that a bunch of old codgers at head office would forget what life was like at sea he retired his captains to office jobs at fortyfive. He preferred to see that his ships were exceptionally well-equipped, instead of paying hefty premiums to underwriters. Each captain had a power of attorney from the firm authorising him to instruct emergency repairs anywhere in the world.  In the early years the line suffered virtually no accidents, so Herr Laeisz was able to obtain cargoes usually obtained only by steamships. The ships attained incredible speeds, often eighteen knots with enough wind, and from about 1910 they began to suffer collisions with cross-channel steamers, who often misjudged their speed. Because of this Herr Laeisz acquired a fleet of steam tugs, which collected his ships off Dover and towed them home to Hamburg, returning with the next out-going ship. John has depicted this in his image of Pommern.


Several of the "Flying P" ships were bought by Captain Gustav Erikson of Mariehamn in Finland, who continued to operate in sail long after almost everyone else had given up. As a result Pommern is still on show at Mariehamn and Passat is moored at Travemuende outside Luebeck.

In researching this post I was delighted to discover that the Laeisz company is still going strong and you can read more about them here:-

Af Chapman

Af Chapman is now an easily-recognised landmark in Stockholm Harbour, externally as original but internally fitted out as a tourist hostel. She started out as a speculative build in Whitehaven in 1885, when orders were scarce, and in 1888 found Irish owners who named her Dunboyne. She had a successful career under sail, latterly as a Danish training ship, ending just before the Second World War, during which she served as a barracks. She was rescued for her present use in 1949.

City of Adelaide

City of Adelaide was built in 1864 at Sunderland for the Australia trade, transporting emigrants outwards and returning with wool. Her best run was 65 days from pilot to pilot. Subsequently she had various careers, including a training ship, a hospital ship during the First World War (which involved cutting ventilation openings in her sides), a gunnery school and then for many years she was moored in the centre of Glasgow as a floating club under the name of HMS Carrick.

During her clubhouse years she had a tendency to sink from time to time, but being in a shallow berth she was always successfully refloated. Unfortunately someone had the bright idea to shift her down river to a new site and almost simultaneously someone else jumped in and had her listed as a "Grade A" listed building, as far as I know the first time this had happened to a floating structure. One consequence of this, whether or not intended, was that the adjoining wharf where she was to be moored would like the ship become subject to strict planning constraints and frustrate the purposes of the speculative house-builders who owned the site. In the event she solved the problem by sinking again, for reasons which have never been disclosed, before reaching her new berth. This left the City of Glasgow with the problem of a "listed building" submerged on the bed of the Clyde.

The Scottish Maritime Museum (so-called but in reality rather a parochial operation), backed by various public bodies in Ayrshire, saw an opportunity and in 1992 acquired ownership. At first she lay in Irvine Harbour, shrouded in black plastic sheeting and constantly sprayed with water to keep her tight, but obviously not an appealing sight. Regrettably in September 1993, against expert advice from Alexander Stephen of Linthouse, whose firm had maintained her, the museum had her hauled out on a slipway to provide a better attraction for visitors. This was the start of her undoing, as within a few months gaps were showing in her sides and it must have been obvious that she would never again float. Nonetheless she continued to consume vast amounts of public money until in 1999 the museum gave up on her and eventually sought permission to demolish their "listed building". To date this hasn't happened and her best hope currently is that descendants of her original passengers will be successful in transporting her to Australia and a new life. They are currently the preferred bidders among a number of organisations intent on rescuing her. See

Polly Woodside

Polly Woodside was built in 1889 at Belfast and in her first eight years rounded the Horn sixteen times. In 1923, having sailed in the Pacific for New Zealand owners under the name Rona, she became a coal hulk in Australia, which paradoxically led to her preservation, as in 1968 her historical value was recognised and she was saved by the Australian National Trust. She is now berthed in Melbourne and can be viewed online here:-

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful artwork and fascinating stories, thank you.


The Wherrymen

The Wherrymen
Two old friends on the water