Taking a trip “doon the watter” has had a long history in Glasgow with the city’s workers escaping the hustle and bustle by climbing aboard a steamer and sailing down the Clyde. Many factories in Glasgow put on cruises for their workers during the summer and 75 years ago today James Templeton & Co. Ltd sent around 2,000 of their staff for the first of two cruises to celebrate the Centenary of the business.
Templeton’s Carpet Factory organised two trips for a total of 4,500 factory workers with three L.M.S. (London, Midland & Scottish Railway) turbine steamers cruising down the Clyde on both 13th and 20th May 1939. On the 13th May, the Queen Mary, the Duchess of Montrose, and the Marchioness of Graham departed with staff from the Templeton Street, Montrose Street and Tullis Street factories on board. The next weekend the Duchess of Hamilton replaced the Queen Mary and the fleet carried the Kerr Street, Crownpoint, Bernard Street, and Rockvale factory workers down the river.
The day out began with three trains departing Glasgow Central at 2pm for Gourock, where the steamers were waiting, specially decked out with bunting and flags to create that holiday feeling. The steamers set sail at 3pm for a four-hour cruise amid the beautiful scenery of the Firth of Clyde.
They passed Largs, the Fairlie channel, and Brodick Bay with the steamers reaching Rothesay at 7pm. After an hour-and-a-half stop, it was back on board for the return journey but not before all 2,000 staff joined in with the communal singing of Auld Lang Syne.
During the cruise high tea was served and there were various entertainments and competitions including loudspeakers broadcasting music and announcements, live bands and dancing. My particular favourites are the ‘Ankle Competition’ for the ladies and the ‘Best-Formed Arm Competition’ for the gentlemen!
The Centenary cruises were described in great detail in the staff magazine: The Templetonian (p18, no. 37, STOD201/2/15/1) which paints a picture of a fantastic day out:
“The green hills, the trees, the sun beating down from an almost cloudless sky. The gaiety on board, the rollicking good humour and fun will make this Centenary Cruise a living memory… we had the day of our lives, the finest Cruise ever. Can’t we have a Centenary every year?”
If you would like to read about the Centenary cruise in The Templetonian or consult any other archives from the Stoddard-Templeton Collection then please do visit us by making an appointment with the Duty Archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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