25 years of Volunteers on Glenlee

25 Years of Volunteers. 

The foundation of the current volunteer group with the Clyde Maritime Trust was laid when s.v. “Glenlee” was brought back to Port Glasgow (where she was built in 1896) from Seville in 1992, and work began on her restoration. The full story is well documented in the excellent book by Colin Castle and Iain MacDonald, published by Brown, son & Ferguson, Ltd. in 2005. 

Iain MacDonaald and Bill MacKinlay can still be found working as volunteers at the workshop and on the ship on Wednesdays. Both can remember those early years, and have scoured their memories and personal archives to provide material for this article.


Iain MacDonald. 

Apprenticeship with Alexander Stephen & Sons, Linthouse as a marine engine fitter.

National Service in RN as Engine Room Artificer.

21 years in Merchant navy as Marine engineer/Chief Engineer

26 years as insurance Engineer Surveyor, retiring in 1992.

Volunteered with Trust in 1993 on the Ships committee and was employed by the Trust for two years during early restoration years of the Glenlee, supervising all measurements of the vessel for the draughtsman. Alignment of all mast and yard sections for weld prep, ultrasonics and x-ray samples. All sidelights marked off and fitted. Figurehead data obtained for carver, and world archives scoured for pictures and documents. 

Iain’s involvement with the project in these years was fundamental to the progress of the restoration and required many hours of detailed measurement and research, far too much to be included in this short article.

Iain subsequently became involved with rescue and restoration of the abandoned and vandalised CNT ferry No. 8. and is still on the current maintenance team responsible for keeping her in service.

Bill Mackinlay.

Apprenticeship with John Brown on sandwich scheme with Glasgow University.

National Service in RN as Sub-Lieutenant.

Graduate trainee with GKN in Commercial Sales

Set up independently as Iron & Steel & Engineers Agent.

After 10 years, joined British Steel in 73/74 until retiring in 1993, then volunteered with the Trust.

He currently works as a guide for the “Glenlee” guided tours amongst his many other tasks

 When Bill first volunteered in 1994 Bob Layden was the Superintendent at the Clyde Maritime Trust with approximately half a dozen volunteers and the “Glenlee” was already at Stobcross Quay.

 Bill recalls one of his first tasks was when Iain sourced, and they together, erected a gantry to more easily facilitate the removal from the ship of all the ‘surplus to requirements’ stuff that was being stripped out. 

This task was very arduous, as the ship had undergone several refits to suit the various different requirements of her many previous owners, and a huge quantity of material had to be stripped out  and removed to the shore for disposal……. 

……………..so the gantry saved many hours of labour for the now expanding team of volunteers and employees. 

Volunteers & Regulars Group in 1966 Left to right:

Bill MacKinlay Alan Rutherford Bob Layden Jim Ramsay Jim Downey Pat ? Iain MacDonald Andy Aire Charlie McIntyre Tom Bent.

Bill also recalls visits to the Glenlee from the ‘great and the good’ with associated publicity from the  media. In particular the Provost and the Royal Male (Prince Philip). 

The volunteers eventually decided that their efforts could more efficiently be used if they arranged to be on site at the same time each week, so it was agreed that Wednesday would be ‘Volunteer Day’,      

a convention which has persisted to the present. 

The present volunteer force numbers approximately 20, coming from a variety of backgrounds and with numerous different skills.  They are engaged with maintenance work on the ship and the Ferry, as well as ‘new-build’ projects including items for the displays and re-creations of the pinnace and lifeboats.