We wander the countryside looking for interesting tales to tell and remember that Scotland is renowned for its feats of engineering and also the engineers who travelled the world providing their skills to a range of needs in various countries.
Unfortunately with the passage of time these have become overlooked and many of the enterprising companies who fathered this expertise are no longer with us.
In that respect we come to the shipyard of William Denny & Brothers whose engines and sea faring endeavours were first among many to enhance travel in all respects. In 1818 they built the ‘Rob Roy’ the first steam powered ferry for the English Channel crossing. In 1869 they completed the ‘Cutty Sark’ one of the fast clippers used in the tea trade to be the first to bring tea back from India and thereby capture the market.
The ‘Cutty Sark’ is now a museum on the Thames at Greenwich. Denny’s were first to build a vessel made of mild steel all welded and in 1901 launched the first passenger steamer driven by turbines.
But did you know that Denny’s were the first to provide the world with a helicopter back in 1905. Designed by E.R. Mumford this helicopter achieved as flight of some 10 feet, but had to be restrained otherwise it would have disappeared above Dumbarton carrying its test pilot to who knows where as they had yet to provide flight steering.
There were many other inventions of this enterprising company including the new revolutionary stabilizers fitted to the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and QE2. Just think of the discomfort and sea-sickness that would have been suffered by those exclusive passengers without Denny stabilizers.
Cruising would not have taken off without those stabilizers as I cannot see many suffering the effects of sea travel without them.
However all good things come to an end and in 1963 the year before the company closed the Denny D2 Hoverbus was launched which was the first commercial hoverbus.
It is sad when these innovative companies have to close, perhaps it was the rising popularity of air travel.
The cruise ships are more like upmarket holiday camps providing all forms of entertainment and I wonder what William Denny and his brothers would think of it all arising from their efforts. See you next week.