Maid of Skelmorlie
Current / Last Route
Caledonian Steam Packet Co.
A & J Inglis, Pointhouse, Glasgow
British Polar Engines Ltd., Glasgow
2 Oil 2SCSA 6 cyl. 9 7/8” x 16 ½ “
Hoist & Lifts:
Sorry, Not Compiled Yet.
For a detailed description of this vessel and her consorts, see MAID OF ASHTON's profile on this site.
The MAID OF SKELMORLIE was the second of the 1953 quartet to be built by A & J Inglis at Pointhouse, Glasgow; and she was launched at their yard, just by the mouth of the River Kelvin, on 2nd April 1953 by Mrs T F Cameron. Her husband was the British Transport Commission's “Scottish Region” manager.
When her main deck lounge was subsequently converted to a bar MAID OF SKELMORLIE surprisingly saw her certificated maximum passenger complement reduced by two, from 627 to 625; this fate did not befall her two elder sisters, though they were similarly modified. Like MAID OF ARGYLL, though, the 'SKELMORLIE' bore her destination-board on the high landing-platform; these were subsequently moved to the promenade deck, as on MAID OF ASHTON.
MAID OF SKELMORLIE duly ran trials on her eponymous mile on Monday 12th June, and just beat MAID OF ARGYLL, attaining a top mean speed of 15.41 knots. In any event the programme of sailings scheduled for the new motorships only required a speed of thirteen knots.
In her early years MAID OF SKELMORLIE developed the afternoon cruise programme and, of a morning, assisted MAID OF ARGYLL on the Gourock-Rothesay stretch of her Craigendoran duties.
As there were now two weekdays – Monday and Friday – in which the old Craigendoran cruise to Arrochar did not operate, MAID OF SKELMORLIE also took on the late afternoon sailing from Craigendoran to Rothesay. In her first season, too, she ran various weekend connexions to Tighnabruaich; in subsequent summers this chore fell to COUNTESS OF BREADALBANE. On occasion she undertook the Saturday cruise to Lochgoilhead/Arrochar (until Lochgoilhead's pier closed in 1965 and eliminated that call from the roster) and she often did Wemyss Bay-Innellan runs.
As time passed, G E Langmuir notes that MAID OF SKELMORLIE became increasingly associated with Wemyss Bay and Largs – and their connexions to the island ports of Rothesay and Millport.
In September 1969 she was specially fitted out for the CSP's new duties on the winter Kyles of Bute/Tarbert mail run from Gourock; they were to take over this historic route from David MacBrayne Ltd from 1st October. So MAID OF SKELMORLIE acquired small mail-rooms forward of her saloon, and a temporary shelter over the galley for parcels and luggage. Early in 1970 her sister, MAID OF ARGYLL, was similarly fitted out to relieve her.
The Tarbert mail run was finally closed on Friday 29th May 1970, once the new STG overlords had won Scottish Office approval; since October 1970, then, the Company has provided no winter passenger services through the Kyles of Bute. (As a sop to opponents of the closure, the CSP laid on a new seasonal car ferry service from Fairlie to Brodick and Tarbert; it was woefully advertised, badly planned and a comprehensive failure. It lasted only two seasons and was not resumed in 1971.)
Like the rest of her sisters MAID OF SKELMORLIE became progressively redundant as the car ferry revolution swept all before it, and spent more and more time laid up. She was finally withdrawn at the end of the 1972 season and never wore the CalMac colours. She was sold to an Italian concern in April 1973 and duly sailed for the Mediterranean, becoming the ALA. After a pretty leisurely conversion to a small, stern-loading car ferry, she operated from early 1976 in the Bay of Naples, sailing from Sorrento to Capri under the ownership of Giuffre & Lauro. She was a considerable success and maintained the route for almost twenty years.
After the 1995 season, the ALA was laid up. From1997 to 1999 she undertook a winter cargo service to the Tremiti Islands in the Adriatic – this was under charter, to a concern called Adriatica – and in the summer of 2001 ALA was chartered again, by Di Maio, for a route from Pozzuoli (just north of Naples) to the island of Procida, and that in year-round service in the company of an old friend – CAPRI EXPRESS, ex MAID OF CUMBRAE.