The Loch Long- a print from a painting

 

 

I spent my childhood in a house adorned with pictures of sailing ships.

The Orontes of Aberdeen, the Dartford, the Edith Mary of Dundee, the Marion Crosbie of Liverpool and, of course, the Loch Long of Glasgow. Only when I grew older did I realise that this was not just decor but was in fact my family's heritage - my grandfather and great grandfather had both been masters of sailing ships. And only around ten years ago, when I was trying to do some research into the loss of my grandfather’s ship the “Loch Long” on the Chatham Islands in 1903, did I realise how sparse and fragmented was the record of these thousands of unsung men and hundreds of ships from an age gone by, who so often gave their lives sailing the oceans of the world in the pursuit of trade, long before the days of radio communications and GPS navigation.

This site is an attempt to draw together and record some tiny pieces of this fragmentary information. I cannot claim originality for much of it – it draws heavily on sources such as Basil Lubbock’s series of books, in particular ‘The Last of the Colonial Clippers’ and on fragments of information from websites around the world. Some previously unpublished family records are, however, also included, such as the photographs of the crew of the Loch Garry and the Loch Rannoch and the photograph of the Loch Long entering Port Phillip Bay, the extracts from the logs of the voyages of the Loch Long, commanded by my grandfather on at least her last three voyages, and the record of the dedication in 1998 of the memorial to the Loch Long at Kaingaroa on the Chathams. I am also indebted to Paul Fuller, great grandson of the legendary Captain James Horne of the Loch Garry, for his grandfather's account of the dismasting of that vessel in 1889. If I have offended anyone’s copyright or intellectual property rights then I apologise - wherever possible I have provided a link back to the source of the material.


This account is, of course, written from the perspective of the Strachan family, hence the concentration on the “Loch Long”, but includes wider information on the “Loch Line” of Aitken, Lilburn & Co. and some of their more famous ships. The company, like my grandfather, never embraced the age of steam, and both business and man went to their deaths with the clipper ships they loved.

I would be delighted if anyone out there can provide me with any additional information, perhaps from their family records, or correct any mistakes I may have made.

Please feel free to contact me at jamstra@btinternet.com

 

Further information:

There are many excellent first-hand accounts of the realities of life on board ships in the era of the colonial clippers. The experience was very different from that available today on the few tall ships which still survive. Now, these ships exist to give volunteer crews an experience, the pleasure of sailing. In my grandfather's time, the crews were there to serve the ships which in turn were there to serve their shareholders. ' Health and safety' and 'working time directives' were as yet undreamed of - life was hard and dangerous!

Classic accounts include Basil Lubbock's 'Round the Horn before the Mast', John Herries McCulloch's 'A Million Miles in Sail', Eric Newby's 'Last Grain Race' and the excellent compilation 'The Last of the Cape Horners' edited by Spencer Apollonio - there are many others. I can recommend them.

 

 

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