Ships of the Fleet
In 1967 the Bute Ferry Co. Ltd. acquired a
secondhand turntable ferryboat, DHUIRNISH, from J & A Gardner Ltd., who run
extensive granite quarries at Bonawe and Loch Etive and still operate assorted
bow-loading coasters to this day. DHUIRNISH, was built, however, for their car
ferry service across the narrows of Loch Etive, vehicular use of the railway
bridge at Connel Ferry being then very restricted. No doubt she closely
resembled other Noble products for the Ballachulish and Strome ferry services,
such as the MAID OF GLENCOE, also built in 1956 and which in 1965 became
MacBrayne's SCALPAY. Her own name reflects the appalling Gaelic evidently
prevalent in ferry circles at the time!
With the closure of the Ballachulish railway line
from Oban in the wake of the notorious Beeching Report, the bridge at Connel
Ferry was fully integrated into the highway system and the Bonawe ferry closed
in 1966. The redundant DHUIRNISH was duly sold for operation at Colintraive and
converted to bowloading operation. In the winter of 1968-69 she briefly sank,
but was raised and repaired.
With the advent of CSP control she was withdrawn
for overhaul when PORTREE came into service on the Kyles of Bute and her green
hull was painted CSP black. The newly bowloading PORTREE had obviously been
constructed with the simnilarly remodelled DHUIRNISH in mind and the former
Bonawe ferry served as secondary vessel on the brief Colintraive-Rhubodach
passage until the commissioning of the converted BROADFORD in June 1971.
DHUIRNISH was then offered for sale and was bought
early in August 1971 by Mr Robert Beattie of Rothesay, who paid a mere £900 for
her. He boldly placed her on a vehicular service from Port Bannatyne on Bute to
Ardyne Point on the Argyll mainland, in direct competition to her former owners.
It seems to have lasted a mere two days, for in September 1971 it was
reported that Mr Mr Peter Kay – laird of Little Cumbrae – had acquired the DHUIRNISH.
DHUIRNISH was later recorded as having visited Millport to uplift "a vehicle" on
Sunday 12 September 1971. She was later noted as a barge/tender on Kerrera,
Loading at the Inner Harbour at Millport
Lying at Rhubodach
It appears now that the Dhuirnish has become a wreck and is currently lying
at Midpark Farm beach, Inchmarnock in a sorry state, her fate inevitable.
Text thanks to John MacLeod
& SoC Crew (C)
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