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MAID OF ASHTON was destined to use Craigendoran as her base and, rather appropriately, she was one of two 'Maids' to be built at A & J Inglis's yard; they had constructed quite a few NB/LNER paddlers for that “North Bank” terminal, including – as recently as 1946 – the WAVERLEY. For a full description of MAID OF ARGYLL and her sisters, see the profile on this site of the eldest, MAID OF ASHTON.

Launched on 4th March 1953 by Mrs F A Pope – her husband was yet another member of the British Transport Commission – MAID OF ARGYLL ran her trials on 1st June and reached a top mean speed of 15 ¼ knots. She then spent a short spell on the Kilmun service before starting a programme of afternoon excursions.


Launch Day at A & J Inglis Yard on the Clyde (1)


Craigendoran duly became her home-port – for which the 'Maids'' shallow draught was well suited - and MAID OF ARGYLL duly performed services to Gourock, Dunoon, Innellan and Rothesay. On Saturdays she also undertook the Lochgoilhead/Arrochar leg of the “Three Lochs Tour”, which encompassed Loch Goil, Loch Long and Loch Lomond. This served to relieve WAVERLEY – the usual Arrochar boat – to transport the hordes of Saturday holidaymakers from the Firth of Clude railheads to Dunoon and Rothesay, a job for which the paddler, with her considerable passenger capacity, was better suited.

She alternated with the rest of the 1953 quartet, of course, on other services and by the late Sixties they were entirely interchangeable, ceasing as individual vessels to be identified with any particular port or route. Occasionally MAID OF ARGYLL enjoyed exceptional outings, such as a charter by the Clyde River Steamer Club on 17th September 1966; on that occasion she sailed down the River Cart from Paisley to the Clyde, Dunoon and Loch Striven. It was a rather historic excursion; shortly afterwards, the River Cart was closed to navigation.

She narrowly escaped entire withdrawal as early as 1964; the CSP intimated the imminent end of the Holy Loch service and it became apparent that MAID OF ARGYLL, for no evident reason, had been picked for disposal. Public reaction forced the CSP, in the event, to maintain the Holy Loch route for seven more years and MAID OF ARGYLL duly survived.
 
She also enjoyed the dignity of a stint on the Kyles of Bute/Tarbert mail service, which the CSP had assumed from David MacBrayne Ltd the previous October: for this duty, in the spring of 1970, she received the locked mail-room partitions and parcel/luggage shelter first fitted on her sister, MAID OF SKELMORLIE on the same duty. MAID OF ARYLL duly performed as a Royal Mail steamer on this route from February to May 1970.

MAID OF ARGYLL was the only ship of the quartet to survive unaltered as a passenger ship into the Caledonian MacBrayne era and don the new CalMac livery – a red funnel with black top (of slightly darker red than the shade David MacBrayne Ltd ships had previously borne) and, for the CSP element, a yellow disk on each side of the funnel with a red lion rampant.


May 1972 Sailing to Tighnabruaich (2)


The two companies' houseflags were also combined - that yellow disc and lion on a blue MacBraynes pennant with red and white diagonal crosses – but the Earl of Wemyss subsequently complained to to Lord Lyon King of Arms, maintaining that CalMac's heraldry too closely resembled his own, and since June 1980 the Company house-flag has been a boring pennant of the funnel-colours.
 
Her career with the new CalMac was destined, however, to be brief – just one season. She made her last Clyde sailing on 12th September 1973 and, after languishing in lay-up through the winter, MAID OF ARGYLL was sold on 1st March 1974, to a company trading as Cycladic Cruises of Piraeus, and duly quit the Clyde for Greece.

The rest of her career is recorded by Alistair Deayton in his rather good 2002 illustrated history of the CSP. As CITY OF PIRAEUS, the former MAID OF ARGYLL sailed from Flisvos marina at Palaeon Phaleron – east of Piraeus itself – on day cruises to the Saronic Islands: Aegina, Poros and Hydra. For her first season her landing platform was extended to make a little upper deck and by 1978 it ran almost to the stern, serving as a tourist suntrap.

By then MacBrayne's old CLAYMORE (1955), in her glamorous new role as CITY OF HYDRA, had largely superseded CITY OF PIRAEUS; and thereafter the ex-MAID saw little service, save for relief duties and on charter. About 1989 she moved to the celebrated island of Corfu and began to run excursions from there as CITY OF CORFU, sailing for Aronis Coastal Cruises. These trips were usually to the island of Paxos, or the port of Parga on the Greek mainland.

In 1997, CITY OF CORFU was ravaged by a serious fire. She did not sail in 1998. In fact, she did not even float; the sometime MAID OF ARGYLL was still sunk and decomposing at her berth in 2002.


As CITY OF PIRAEUS at Poros, 26 June 1983 (3)


Sunk in Corfu Harbour 2003 (4)


Text thanks to John MacLeod (C) Images: (1) Paul Strathdee Collection (2) Unknown (3) Tony Garner (4) Michael Segeth 


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