Mackay shares out refurbishment

The Vulcan in McKays boatyard on Monday.slm
The Vulcan in McKays boatyard on Monday.slm

A REPLICA of Scotland’s first iron-hulled vessel, Vulcan, is being worked on at Mackay Boat Builders Arbroath Ltd., where she is being refurbished.

Built at Govan yard by apprentices of British Shipbuilders Training Ltd., for the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988, she is a steel replica of the original Vulcan.

The new Vulcan is now owned by Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life in Coatbridge where it has been on display.

Harry Simpson of Mackays expects that the work will last up to three months.

He said: “It is a very good replica and the steelwork is in good order but it now requires to be modernised.

“We have removed the internals of the boat and will make changes to allow people on board and provide disabled access. We have stripped it back to bare steel internally and externally.”

He went on: “The electrics will be upgraded and some steelwork will be improved as well. It is the first time we have dealt with this type of iron boat which makes it interesting for everyone involved.”

Mr Simpson revealed that local sub-contractors will also benefit.

He stated: “We have employed Contact Electrical to undertake all the electrical work and J. & J. Stewart, blacksmiths, have been brought on board to do the welding.”

And Mackay are using an innovate new cleaning method which is user friendly, does not require so much clearing up afterwards and is more friendly to the environment.

Mr Simpson explained: “We are using a dry ice blasting system which changes the sand or shot for dry ice, which just disappears. Instead of having to clear up the used shot as well as the paint residue and rust, all we have to clear up is what is scoured off, as the dry ice disappears into the atmosphere.”

The original passenger boat Vulcan was the first iron-hulled boat in Scotland and was built for the Forth and Clyde Canal Company at Faskine on the Monkland Canal in 1818 by Thomas Wilson. She operated on the Forth and Clyde canal and was horse drawn.

The builder of the Vulcan had great difficulties to contend with, and, in an account of the building of the vessel which he wrote to a friend, he said: “There was no angle iron in those days, nor any machinery, except an old-fashioned piercing-machine, a cast-iron grooved block to form the ribs, a smith’s fire, and one foot knee’d at a heat was considered good work.”

The vessel was designed by Sir John Robison, of Edinburgh, and was substantially constructed.

Almost 10 years later, a proposal was made by Mr Robert Wilson, Bridgewater Foundry, Patricroft, to alter the Vulcan into a steam-vessel to be propelled by a screw at the stern. The governor and some of the directors of the Forth and Clyde Canal Company were favourable to the scheme, but the proposal was strenuously resisted by others.

The Vulcan carried passengers between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Later it was converted to a cargo handler and was sold for scrap in 1873.