Previous names

  • 1938 - 1965 Ashton
  • 1965 - 1971 Gourockian
Certificate no 181
Status Registered
a12admin

Details

Function Passenger Vessel
Subfunction Excursion
Location Doncaster
Vessel type Excursion
Current use Commercial Activity
Available to hire Yes
Available for excursions Yes
Info required No

Construction

Builder Denny, William & Bros Ltd, Dumbarton
Built in 1938
Hull material Steel
Rig None
Number of decks 2
Number of masts
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None

Dimensions

Breadth: Beam
13.50 feet (4.12 m)
Depth
4.00 feet (1.22 m)
Length: Overall
60.00 feet (18.30 m)
Tonnage: Gross
38.00
Air Draft
To be confirmed

History

The WYRE LADY is large, impressive vessel, built in 1938 by Denny's of Dumbarton for the Caledonian Steam Packet Company as a railway passenger ferry. Originally named the Ashton with sister ship the Leven, now BRISTOL QUEEN, the two ships were launched in the May of 1938 at a cost of £4150 each.

The ships were immediately put into service providing trips to view the building of the new Cunard White Star Liner, RMS Queen Elizabeth and servicing the 1938 Empire Exhibition held in Glasgow. Following the close of the Empire exhibition, the ships continued sightseeing excursions, towards Clydebank viewing the Clyde Shipbuilding yards and the fitting out of the Queen Elizabeth at John Brown's shipyard.

In 1939 the then named Ashton was requisitioned by the Royal Navy on the outbreak of the Second World War and serviced as a naval tender to the Queen Mary and later the Queen Elizabeth in their roles as troop ships in the Clyde Anchorage. The vessel was repainted Naval Grey, carrying 'RN23' on the bow. It is at this time that Jimmy Cagney, the famous film star, is reported to have performed on board Ashton.

Following the end of the war in 1945, Ashton returned to service on the Clyde, initially on a new Gourock to Dunoon ferry service, but she became particularly well known on the run between Largs and Millport, an association which continued until 1962. Incidentally, the Ashton was also the last passenger vessel to sail the Forth and Clyde canal before its closure at the end of 1962.

By the winter of 1964/65, both the Ashton and Leven were laid up at Greenock, the Ashton eventually being sold and renamed the Gourockian. She was used for just 5 years on the summer ferry service between Gourock and Helensburgh. The now Gourockian became surplus to requirements in 1971 when she was replaced by the larger Countess of Breadel-Baine.

In 1971 the vessel was sold to become the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry across the mouth of the River Qyre, where she acquired her present name. In 1975 she began the most notorious part of her career to date whilst working from a hotel on the River Severn, her then owners ran into financial difficulty and she was arrested by the Admiralty Marshall and had a writ nailed to the mast.

In 1977 the WYRE LADY was sold and brought by sea around the coast by Britain by Alan oliver, to Doncaster. After a major refit she commenced work in March 1978 and continues to trade today having carried near on 2 million passengers over the course of three quarters of a century

Update, June 2020: Reported on BBC News that Wyre Lady badly damaged in arson attack

Sources

Hamer, Geoffrey, Trip Out 1995/6 - A Guide to the Passenger Boat Services of the British Isles, G P Hamer, 1995

Key dates

  • 1938

    Vessel built by Denny's of Dumbarton for the Caledonian Steam Packet Company.

  • 1939

    Vessel requisitioned by the Royal Navy and serviced as a naval tender

  • 1945-1962

    Returned to the Clyde, initially on the Gourock to Dunoon ferry service as well as Largs and Millport

  • 1971

    Vessel sold to become the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry across the mouth of the River Wyre

  • 1977

    Vessel sold and brought by sea to Doncaster

  • 1978

    After a major refit, vessel commenced work and continues to trade today

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk

More like this

A day on Sonning

Registered, built 1902 by Salter Brothers Ltd, Oxford

Goring - starboard side

Registered, built 1912 by Salter Brothers Ltd, Oxford

Forth Princess at Pontoon

Registered, built 1921 by Mashfords, Cremyll

Henley - Port side

Registered, built 1896 by Clark, Edwin & Co Ltd, Brimscombe