Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Highland Cowes


I have to share an utterly remarkable book that I have just received from Amazon. Being a sucker for all kinds of material on sailing and marine heritage it looked like something I had to have for my library, but can see now that it’s much more than that.
At 800 pages, including countless footnotes and references, it’s a massive contribution to the social history of the West of Scotland as well as a record of Scottish boat designing, building and sailing over the last two hundred years, with dives into earlier periods to give context. I don’t think it’s a book you would start reading at page one; the table of contents is so enticing that I had to dive into episodes that appealed and then found myself reading anecdotes almost at random. I’ll probably return later for a second, more conventional read.
I particularly enjoyed the detailed history of the early Scottish Navy. For years I’ve tried unsuccessfully to inform myself about the Great Michael and it looks as if everything we can know about this terrifying behemoth is here. There are tales of Clyde paddle steamers galore and a fascinating history of the Coats and Clark families and their incredible fleets of steam yachts and fast little racers.
It was also nice to see that this blog was mentioned a few times, with proper acknowledgment of the source, something that in my experience often doesn’t happen.
Euan Ross is to be congratulated on his massive effort, a wonderful, entertaining read, written in a fast moving, captivating style.

The Wherrymen

The Wherrymen
Two old friends on the water