A sail down memory lane for shipyard family

From left: David Tod, Anstruther (far left), Sandy McLeman and family, Black Isle, (centre), Sandy's father, John, was the skipper of the Campbeltown-built Heather Bloom, Leslie Howarth, former managing director at the Shipyard and Paul Barham, volunteer (far right). Photograph: Jan Nimmo.

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South Kintyre Development Trust’s (SKDT) ‘Top Skippers’ Choice’ exhibition was launched in style on Saturday at Campbeltown Town Hall.

The exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Crimson Arrow CN 30, the first boat completed at Campbeltown Shipyard, for local skipper James McDonald, and celebrates this and almost 100 other vessels which went down the slipway between 1970 and 1997.

The vast majority of these vessels were fishing boats, many of which are still in use today.

The exhibition includes interpretive boards, along with slideshows, films and shipyard memorabilia.

James’s daughter-in-law Jan was at the launch and said: ‘The project and exhibition are a fantastic record of all the those associated with the yard  and its boats.

‘It’s important to keep the history of fishing and shipyards alive for future generations. James would have been proud to know this is being recognised 50 years down the line.’

The exhibition was launched with music from pipers Catriona Newman and Erin Cameron, from Kintyre Schools Pipe Band, a speech from former shipyard manager Les Howarth OBE, with the venue covered in bunting created for the occasion by pupils of Castlehill and Dalintober Primary Schools, all aimed at recreating the atmosphere of a launch day at Trench Point.

The refreshments for the launch were provided by Glen Scotia Distillery and by Leslie and Sheena Howarth.

The opening day was attended by skippers from Fife, Fraserburgh and the Black Isle, and reunited skippers with shipyard workers from Campbeltown.

The exhibition was well attended throughout the weekend and visitors included former owner of Campbeltown Shipyard, Sir William Lithgow and his wife, Lady Lithgow. Weekend visitors were able to see a 50-year-old model built by skipper David Tod, of Anstruther, of the yard’s second completed boat, the St Adrian KY 245, alongside a larger working model of the same boat which the skipper has just completed.

Jan Nimmo, who devised, designed and delivered the project for SKDT commented: ‘Top Skippers’ Choice started as a project about Campbeltown Shipyard and its place in the history of the town because I strongly felt the need to preserve this piece of local heritage, however from the outset it became apparent that the boats built at the yard had a significance which extended far beyond Campbeltown.

‘The project has grown arms and legs as contributors and volunteers have become involved across the length and breadth of Scotland and beyond.

‘I am extremely grateful to all the contributors and  volunteers for helping make the project such a success.’

The exhibition is just a snapshot of all the material gathered in the course of the project and which now forms the online archive which remains open for people from Campbeltown and beyond to share memories and information about the shipyard.

Bobby Wylie, CAD operator and designer, Campbeltown Shipyard said: ‘I would like to offer my congratulations and sincere thanks to Jan and SKDT for a marvellous exhibition. The project also has a Facebook page with over 1,000 likes and followers.

‘It was wonderful to see the many exhibits and photographs – which immediately brought back many happy memories of working at ‘The Yard’ with a dedicated team whose skills can be seen in the vessels built.’

The project has been funded by the Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland. SKDT also received funding from the Campbeltown Common Good Fund (Argyll and Bute Council) for additional display boards for exhibitions at Campbeltown Town Hall.

Main caption: From left: David Tod, Anstruther (far left), Sandy McLeman and family, Black Isle, (centre), Sandy’s father, John, was the skipper of the Campbeltown-built Heather Bloom, Leslie Howarth, former managing director at the Shipyard and Paul Barham, volunteer (far right). Photograph: Jan Nimmo. NO_c08_McLemanGroup