Olympic comeback for Scottish ship in Tilbury

RUSTING away and abandoned in a dock in Tilbury, it has been an ignominious retirement for a boat that brought pleasure to so many Glaswegians.

The 78-year-old steamer Queen Mary has endured the sad retirement after ferrying generations of families ‘doon the watter’ for more than 40 years.

Now the grand old lady of the Clyde could find a new lease of life as she goes to auction later this month reports The Herald.

Built by the William Denny shipyard at Dumbarton, the Queen Mary first set sail in 1933, carrying 2000 passengers from Glasgow’s Bridge Wharf down the river to Dunoon, Rothesay, Largs and Millport.

Two years later, with the launch of the renowned Cunard liner Queen Mary – which now lies permanently docked in Long Beach, California – the steamer was forced to change its name to the Queen Mary II.

She survived the war unscathed and sailed on the Clyde until 1977, when she was retired and laid up at Greenock. A few years later she was sold, refitted and taken to London to become a floating bar and restaurant on the Thames.

Uncertainty has surrounded the vessel’s fate since a planned move to turn her into a floating hotel, restaurant and gym in La Rochelle, western France, collapsed.

Now, there is hope she may be saved from a sad end languishing in Tilbury docks, where she has been berthed for the past two years.

Richard Lane, boss of Isle of Wight-based Capital Boats, has been tasked with marketing the ship for its French owners and believes it could prove a lucrative investment ahead of the London Olympics.

He said: “It’s of special interest to bigger corporate parties such as development companies.

“I think they’ll want to look to refurbishing the Queen Mary or converting it to something like a floating hotel or another venue like she was in London. She was a floating function venue and I think that’s what will continue. It’s a unique opportunity.”

Mr Lane said a guide price for the vessel hadn’t been decided, but insisted that interest was mounting worldwide ahead of the August 24 auction.

Gordon Stewart of the Clyde Turbine Steamer Foundation, who failed two years ago with a bid to return the Dumbarton-built ship home, said: “It is increasingly difficult as it is a matter of public money being few and far between. But Glasgow is where her history is.”

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