Vital Spark - a confusing story

vitalspark
19th January 2008, 20:46
There are now at least two puffers in Scottish waters bearing the name Vital Spark. One lies in Crinan Basin, at the seaward end of the Crinan Canal. She is a steam powered puffer, sadly neglected. This was the vessel that was used for the 1994 TV series about Neil Munro's Para Handy, and as such, had the name Vital Spark painted on her. I have watched her on all my visits to UK, since seeing her with steam up in Ardrishaig basin in 1994, to the sad little ship she is today in Crinan Basin.

Eilean Eisdeal, as far as I know, is diesel powered, and, having worked until relatively recently, lay for years behind the sailing vessel Arctic Penguin at Inveraray. In 2007 her owners applied to have her name registered as Vital Spark, and this has been done.

I would ask if anyone knows the original name or number of the puffer in Crinan Basin, which was used in the TV production. Perhaps the controversy about which puffer is which can finally be resolved.

I have attached a couple of photos, one showing the TV Vital Spark in Crinan Basin, the other the Eilean Eisdeal at Inveraray.

Thank you
Dave

gil mayes
19th January 2008, 22:36
From material originally researched by Alan Condie (with additions by Roy Cressey & Gil Mayes).
VITAL SPARK ex VIC 27.
VIC 27
17.7.1943 Launched by Goole Shipbuilding & Repairing Co Ltd, Goole.
8.1943: Completed.
1943-4.1944: Naval work
4.1944: converted to a water boat (portable tanks in hold)
1.1945: In service at Antwerp
1947: Transferred to Admiralty working Devonport/Harwich
1966: Sold to M. Kelly, Ardrossan for conversion to motor. Resold to Glenburn Shipping Co, Glasgow
1968: Sold to Sir James Mille, Edinburgh. Refitted at Granton and coverted for passengers (20 pax)
1969: Renamed AULD REEKIE
Based at OPban for Yout Organosations etc
1980s Following death of Sir James Miller sold to Bathgate Brothers Marine.
1992: Renamed VITAL SPARK for BBC tTV series.
2000: Laid up Crinan Canal (ppor condition).

EILEAN EASDEAL ex VIC 72
VIC 72
1944: Launched by Brown's Shipbuilding & Drydock Co Ltd, Hull
9.1944: Completed
1947: Transferred to Admiralty - Devonport
18.4.1964: Sold to W. J. Havens, London (with VIC 75 en bloc 750)
1964: Sold to M. Kelly, Ardrossan for conversion to motor.
1967: Renamed ELDESA
1983: Sold to Chris Nicholson, Eilean Easdale (Easdale Island Shipping Line, Oban. later Hatton, Warwickshire)
1984: Renamed EILEAN EASDALE.
199?: Part of Eilean Easdale Museum exhibits.
200?: Sold ??
2007: Renamed VITAL SPARK.
Grateful for any further information.
Gil.

gil mayes
19th January 2008, 22:41
Excuse spelling errors above, edited and ???
Gil.

vitalspark
19th January 2008, 23:39
Gil,

Many thanks for your prompt and informative response. I live in South Africa now, and only see the Crinan Vital Spark when I manage to fly over for a visit. It breaks my heart to see the state she is in, because she must be about the last unaltered steam-propelled puffer in existence. Is there no way of saving her, perhaps through the National Lottery or something of the kind?

With best wishes,
Dave

vitalspark
19th January 2008, 23:43
Forgot to mention, but the VIC 32 is often in Crinan Basin. She, of course has been modified to carry passengers. A point of interest - in one of the Para Handy episodes, the Vital Spark rams the French vessel Dolores. Dolores is the Duke of Normandy, and she lies in the Basin almost next to Vital Spark, but in very much better condition.

Dave

vitalspark
19th January 2008, 23:58
[QUOTE=gil mayes;179355]From material originally researched by Alan Condie (with additions by Roy Cressey & Gil Mayes).
VITAL SPARK ex VIC 27.
VIC 27
17.7.1943 Launched by Goole Shipbuilding & Repairing Co Ltd, Goole.
8.1943: Completed.
1943-4.1944: Naval work
4.1944: converted to a water boat (portable tanks in hold)
1.1945: In service at Antwerp
1947: Transferred to Admiralty working Devonport/Harwich
1966: Sold to M. Kelly, Ardrossan for conversion to motor. Resold to Glenburn Shipping Co, Glasgow
1968: Sold to Sir James Mille, Edinburgh. Refitted at Granton and coverted for passengers (20 pax)1969: Renamed AULD REEKIE
Based at OPban for Yout Organosations etc
1980s Following death of Sir James Miller sold to Bathgate Brothers Marine.
1992: Renamed VITAL SPARK for BBC tTV series.
2000: Laid up Crinan Canal (ppor condition).

Sorry Gil, still a bit confused. I attach a photo of Vital Spark in Crinan in October 2000. She shows precious little sign of being converted either to motor or for 20 passengers. Vic 32 was converted for passengers, and Eilean Eisdeal was converted to motor. Confusion still reigns.

Any comments?

Thank you,
Dave

brandane
20th January 2008, 01:56
Hi Dave - following in from your topic of VIC32 - take a look at www.savethepuffer.co.uk - I am sure if you contact Nick - he will be able to bring you more up to date information on Vital Spark.
By the way there is excellent video available about VIC32 titled Puffer Afloat - Scenic Video No 10 from Camemora Video, Kilchoan, Argyll, Scotland -also very good book "The Clyde Puffer" by Dan McDonald - publisher David & Charles - Newton Abbott ref ISBN 0 7153 74435. The BBC also have Vital Spark videos available - and if you are old enough to remember, I have original copy of the old b/w movie 'The Maggie'
On one trip back to the Kyles of Bute during filming of the last series of Para Handy - both Auld Reekie and Vital Spark were in the Kyles for the filming.
Cheers Jamie - Auckland NZ

vitalspark
20th January 2008, 09:56
Hi Dave - following in from your topic of VIC32 - take a look at www.savethepuffer.co.uk - I am sure if you contact Nick - he will be able to bring you more up to date information on Vital Spark.
By the way there is excellent video available about VIC32 titled Puffer Afloat - Scenic Video No 10 from Camemora Video, Kilchoan, Argyll, Scotland -also very good book "The Clyde Puffer" by Dan McDonald - publisher David & Charles - Newton Abbott ref ISBN 0 7153 74435. The BBC also have Vital Spark videos available - and if you are old enough to remember, I have original copy of the old b/w movie 'The Maggie'
On one trip back to the Kyles of Bute during filming of the last series of Para Handy - both Auld Reekie and Vital Spark were in the Kyles for the filming.
Cheers Jamie - Auckland NZ

Jamie, thanks for all the info - believe it or not, I have Puffer Afloat, The Clyde Puffer, the BBC videos and The Maggie! As you can see, I like puffers!
You make an interesting point in your post - you say that both Auld Reekie and Vital Spark were in the Kyles for the filming. If you look at Gil Mayes' quote above, it states that Auld Reekie is the Vital Spark! So clearly there is still an ID problem with the poor little puffer lying in Crinan Basin.

The plot thickens!
Best wishes,
Dave

gil mayes
20th January 2008, 13:07
Please look in on www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/islandblogging/ibhq. VITAL SPARK (both) and more on puffers in films.
Gil.

airds
21st January 2008, 18:07
Get it all from the horses mouth
http://www.inveraraypier.com/clydepuffers01/ (http://www.inveraraypier.com/clydepuffers01/)

brandane
23rd January 2008, 15:15
Hi Dave - have just found my photos of the puffers taken in the Kyles off Tighnabruich during the filming of Para Handy - taken on 28th June 1994 - I see I am wrong in the names of the vessels - one is Vital Spark and the other is Mary Glen. Probably both ficticious names for the filming. I will post these photos when I get time - this week - there are 7 photos in the series I took- from PS Waverley.

Cheers Jamie

gil mayes
28th January 2008, 23:15
Well this thread died a death. What happened to all the enthusiasm to sort out the VITAL SPARKs?
Gil.

vitalspark
29th June 2008, 15:56
Well this thread died a death. What happened to all the enthusiasm to sort out the VITAL SPARKs?
Gil.

Gil, I have no idea why this thread seemed to fade away - if it was anything to do with me I apologise.
I think the BBC series Vital Spark was Vic 27, ex Auld Reekie. Eilean Easdeal (diesel-powered) is now re-registered as Vital Spark.
I managed a quick visit to Crinan earlier this month (June 2008) on a flying visit to UK. My old pal Vic 27/Vital Spark is now in Ardrishaig Basin bearing the name-board Maggie. Shortly after returning from UK I received the following e-mail:

clydepuffers@skwebpages.co.uk

Include this full e-mail (particularly the headers).
Message sent to you follows:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What's New on ClydePuffers.com

'Vital Spark' will return to Inveraray Harbour this Sunday 1st June 2008. She is being used for filming on Monday and the film company are looking for 80 extras, so if you happen to be around on Monday here's your chance to star in the background.

'Maggie' is still lying waiting in the basin at Ardrishaig on the Crinan Canal along side VIC32 which is spick and span after her Lottery Heritage Grant refurbishment. It is hoped to tow 'Maggie' up to Inveraray within the next 2-3 weeks when a suitable weather window is available. (will let you know when) and the then long task of restoration can start and the essential fund raising will also begin.

The 'Arctic Penguin' Museum has also had a face lift with a paint job and is looking very nice. The Coffee Shop on-board has now become well established and is keeping the crew busy. You may also have noticed she also has a new webcam looking through a starboard porthole where you can watch the day go by on www.inveraray.tv

Any questions or problems accessing the message board please email me and I will try and fix you up.

Regards
Dan (Stuart Kidd) MacPhail
Chief Website Engineer


--
Thank you

Maritime Heritage Centre - Inveraray

The Vital Spark referred to in the e-mail is the ex-Eilean Easdeal. "Maggie" is, of course, our old friend the television Vital Spark (ex VIV 27/Auld Reekie), so maybe there is hope for the old ship at last.

I have attached a picture of the old puffer in Ardrishaig Basin on 7th June 2008.

With best wishes,
Dave Kennedy

gil mayes
30th June 2008, 09:20
Thanks Dave. No criticism was aimed at anyone in particular, just that we had had a very good discussion and it had ended without a conclusion. I think that we are now up to date. The MAGGIE ex VIC27 looks in reasonable condition apart from the cosmetics, it would be good to see her also restored.
Gil.

vitalspark
1st July 2008, 23:35
Thanks Dave. No criticism was aimed at anyone in particular, just that we had had a very good discussion and it had ended without a conclusion. I think that we are now up to date. The MAGGIE ex VIC27 looks in reasonable condition apart from the cosmetics, it would be good to see her also restored.
Gil.

She's been lying in Crinan for 14 years now - a long time without maintenance. I've attached 3 other pics:

The first was as Auld Reekie, in Campbeltown 1988. She was being repainted and would be temporarily named Vital Spark for the Glasgow Garden Festival.

The second is in Ardrishaig, 1994, just after the completion of the 'Para Handy' series. The day I took that picture steam was still dribbling from her stack.

The last picture is a close-up on 7th June 2008. She really is pretty tatty. I certainly hope they can come up with the necessary finance to fix her up. By the way, I have no idea at all what her ownership status is.

Best wishes,
Dave

gil mayes
2nd July 2008, 09:09
Thanks for the photos Dave. The problem will be her machinery state in particular the boiler. I hope whoever is in charge of her conducts a proper survey to determine just what is required, all to often restoration projects rush off without the full extent of the work being appreciated and as a result are seriously underfunded from the start.
Gil.

Nairda59
2nd July 2008, 17:51
The vessel in the photo's has been renamed MAGGIE she once again lays in Ardrishaig basin.
The story was that lottery finance was going to be provided but never came. During that time the owner moved the boat to Ardrishaig with the intention of going for repair as per the previous posts.
I wouldnt send my dog out into Loch Fynne on her, she is a death trap.
Serious serious plate rust and the 'bridge' structure is totally unsafe. My guess would be that on all but a flat calm she would sink.
Local residents including myself, are appalled at a wreck being dumped in the beautifull canal basin.
Take her into the 300metre centre and scuttle her -- thats my answer.

nick olass
21st May 2009, 00:01
I've been fascinated by the Para Handy stories for years, and when [Rab C Nesbitt swine y'arr] Gregor Fisher did the TV series, I was well and truelly hooked; so much so, that the Hebridean Isles and west of Scotland became my favourite places to visit. The "Puffers" were long gone when I went there, but I stood in some of the places where they brought their cargoes and let my mind do the rest. I'm not a seaman, so I am not qualified to judge, which of the two lifestyles [Puffers or Deep Sea] would have been the the most interesting. I do however have an opinion, it's Puffers for me by a league of knots. ["Howls of derision and outrage"] I really fancy the notion of stopping off, at all those fantastic little ports up and down the coast of Scotland, and sneeking ashore for a quick pint or nine, and setting off again in the morning to somewhere new, brilliant. I recently downloaded loads of material about the "Puffers", and then I came across this smashing thread "Vital Spark", super stuff lads, keep it up.

Regards

Nick Olass

airds
21st May 2009, 01:05
. I recently downloaded loads of material about the "Puffers", and then I came across this smashing thread "Vital Spark", super stuff ....


Nick

Best books available
Para Handy Tales (various editions) - N. Munro
The Clyde Puffer - Dan MacDonald
'Light in the Glens' - The rise & fall of the Puffer trade - L. Paterson
Puffer Ahoy - G. Burrows
Puffer -G. Hutton
amongst others

All should be reasonably easily available from the usual sources, or ABE Books, second hand.

Also you'll probably find us locals like the older series of Para Handy 'The Vital Spark' (BBC first series) better. It and 'The Maggie' are both on DVDs

There are also various model kits available too ...

b.rdgs

Duncan112
21st May 2009, 08:08
Can I recommend Stuart Donald's "In The Wake Of The Vital Spark" which looks at the area and the true stories behind Neil Monroe's books - and also suggests who Para Handy was?

Quite a few on abe Books - 7.50 up

Duncan

nick olass
22nd May 2009, 01:39
Nick

Best books available
Para Handy Tales (various editions) - N. Munro
The Clyde Puffer - Dan MacDonald
'Light in the Glens' - The rise & fall of the Puffer trade - L. Paterson
Puffer Ahoy - G. Burrows
Puffer -G. Hutton
amongst others

All should be reasonably easily available from the usual sources, or ABE Books, second hand.

Also you'll probably find us locals like the older series of Para Handy 'The Vital Spark' (BBC first series) better. It and 'The Maggie' are both on DVDs

There are also various model kits available too ...

b.rdgs

David
Thanks for the info', I'll be in Wigtown in 2 weeks, so I'll trawl through all the bookstores there; I'm sure to find some, if not all the books you mention.
Regards
Nick

Coastie
22nd May 2009, 02:25
I've never understood why the wheelhouse was behind the stack and not in front of it.

nick olass
22nd May 2009, 03:06
Maybe the the Skipper was happier going backwards.
Nick

airds
25th May 2009, 19:22
Think the location of the boiler was the determining factor .....

vitalspark
2nd June 2009, 15:58
I've never understood why the wheelhouse was behind the stack and not in front of it.

First of all, all you recent contributors have caught me on the hop! I missed ALL the 2009 posts through being away in a remote part of the Western Cape here in South Africa. Great to see some interest in the thread again - thank you all for that.

I think the reason for the wheelhouse aft the funnel was a direct carry-over from the position of exposed wheel and controls of older puffers. Somebody - no doubt a wet and frozen skipper - must have had an epiphany revealing a vision of a puffer skipper nice and warm in a snug wheelhouse.....so he built one, and ever since, puffers have been skippered by a bunch of complete pussycats....although that last remark will undoubtedly arouse the ire of ex-puffer skippers, from whom I fully expect to receive some pointed remarks.

Some update.......

As far as I can determine, VIC27/aka Vital Spark (TV series with Gregor Fisher)/aka (most recently) Maggie has had all her superstructure removed. It seems that this is in preparation for boiler & engine inspection/refurbishment, although I would appreciate confirmation of this. I do not know her current location - I looked for her at Crinan and Ardrishaig in April 2009 without success.

So there is a challenge for all you Scottish-based enthusiasts - can any of you find out what is happening to my favourite wee puffer?

Best wishes,
Dave Kennedy

jasmacpm
2nd June 2009, 17:26
Hi,
did you see my pictures of 'the Vital Spark' posted in March and April? Surprised you never saw her as she was berthed just outside Crinan basin then. As you say, her superstructure is removed. Not sure of reason. I'm not sure, but some of it (superstructure) looks to be further along canal adjacent to a canalside house, where 'the artist' lives?


http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/170944/ppuser/23476

http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/165965/ppuser/23476

Regards,
Jimmy.


First of all, all you recent contributors have caught me on the hop! I missed ALL the 2009 posts through being away in a remote part of the Western Cape here in South Africa. Great to see some interest on the thread again - thank you all for that.

I think the reason for the wheelhouse aft the funnel was a direct carry-over from the position of exposed wheel and controls of older puffers. Somebody - no doubt a wet and frozen skipper - must have had an epiphany revealing a vision of a puffer skipper nice and warm in a snug wheelhouse.....so he built one, and ever since, puffers have been skippered by a bunch of complete pussycats....although that last remark will undoubtedly arouse the ire of ex-puffer skippers, from whom I fully expect to receive some pointed remarks.

Some update.......

As far as I can determine, VIC27/aka Vital Spark (TV series with Gregor Fisher)/aka (most recently) Maggie has had all her superstructure removed. It seems that this is in preparation for boiler & engine inspection/refurbishment, although I would appreciate confirmation of this. I do not know her current location - I looked for her at Crinan and Ardrishaig in April 2009 without success.

So there is a challenge for all you Scottish-based enthusiasts - can any of you find out what is happening to my favourite wee puffer?

Best wishes,
Dave Kennedy

vitalspark
2nd June 2009, 17:49
Hi,
did you see my pictures of 'the Vital Spark' posted in March and April? Surprised you never saw her as she was berthed just outside Crinan basin then. As you say, her superstructure is removed. Not sure of reason. I'm not sure, but some of it (superstructure) looks to be further along canal adjacent to a canalside house, where 'the artist' lives?


http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/170944/ppuser/23476

http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/165965/ppuser/23476

Regards,
Jimmy.

I was in UK, with no access to a computer, at that time when you posted your pictures. You say she was outside of Crinan Basin - I was short of time, and drove down to the basin past the Hotel, and then up the exit road at the far side of the basin. All I saw was Hebridean Princess lying offshore - nothing of note in the basin itself. Where exactly was she? If she was above Lock 14, without the familiar red funnel, wheelhouse and mast, I might have missed her.

Thanks for your prompt reply,
Dave

jasmacpm
2nd June 2009, 22:56
Hi, Dave,
she was and I am pretty sure still is, just beyond the last lock, leaving the basin. As you say, she now has a low profile and I think you would need to be up near the lock, to see her. If you know where the walk up Crinan hill starts, that is where she is sitting.
Regards,
Jimmy.

vitalspark
3rd June 2009, 10:41
Hi, Dave,
she was and I am pretty sure still is, just beyond the last lock, leaving the basin. As you say, she now has a low profile and I think you would need to be up near the lock, to see her. If you know where the walk up Crinan hill starts, that is where she is sitting.
Regards,
Jimmy.

Thanks, Jimmy -

That would explain it - I never gave so much as a glance above Lock 14. I hope we can find someone who has some hard information as to her probable future.

With best wishes,
Dave Kennedy

neil_ily
2nd July 2009, 15:30
Hello Dave
The Vic27/Auld Reekie was bought last September by some people mainly based on Islay one being the manager of Bruichladdich Distillery and a few others. BBC Alba will be doing a documentary on the refurbishment of the vessel and this is currently being filmed by Caledonia tv some details are on there website www.caledonia.tv
The plan is to put her on the slip at the Crinan boatyard either this weekend or next, the boiler has already been removed.
All the best
Neil

charles henry
3rd July 2009, 18:07
I find it rather odd that there is only one passing mention of Neil Munro's Para Handy.
That series of stories was about the crew of and the vessel "Vital Spark" and it appears obvious that any actual puffers with that name were named in accord with the Para Handy stories.

I named my first sail boat Vital Spark, because that is what it was for me.

de chas

vitalspark
4th July 2009, 19:36
I find it rather odd that there is only one passing mention of Neil Munro's Para Handy.
That series of stories was about the crew of and the vessel "Vital Spark" and it appears obvious that any actual puffers with that name were named in accord with the Para Handy stories.

I named my first sail boat Vital Spark, because that is what it was for me.

de chas

Hi, Charles,

Over the years more than one puffer has been called into service as a television performer to play the part of Para Handy's immortal Vital Spark. Many years ago, back in the 50's or 60's, I am not sure, the BBC produced a "Para Handy" series in which I think the puffer Saxon starred as the Vital Spark. Much later, in 1994, a new "Para Handy" TV series was made, and the puffer used had the name Vital Spark painted on her bows. After the series was finished, she was left to deteriorate in various quiet corners of the Crinan Canal in Argyllshire. This thread was started because I was confused as to the real name of that old ship now lying in Crinan, because up until now, no real puffer had ever been called Vital Spark. It turned out that she had originally been VIC 27, and had subsequently been named Auld Reekie. To compound the confusion, another puffer, the Eilean Eisdeal, was recently officially re-registered with the name of Vital Spark. She therefore becomes the first real puffer to officially bear that name. So now we have the "real" Vital Spark (ex Eilean Eisdeal) and the poor old TV star (the temporary and unofficial Vital Spark) each bearing the same name, which obviously would not do. The name Vital Spark was painted out on the old ship in the canal, and the name-board Maggie hung there instead. And thus matters stand at the present. The Maggie lies above Lock 14 in the canal, and it seems that moves are afoot to save her. Let us hope that this is indeed the case.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Dave

vitalspark
4th July 2009, 19:41
Hello Dave
The Vic27/Auld Reekie was bought last September by some people mainly based on Islay one being the manager of Bruichladdich Distillery and a few others. BBC Alba will be doing a documentary on the refurbishment of the vessel and this is currently being filmed by Caledonia tv some details are on there website www.caledonia.tv
The plan is to put her on the slip at the Crinan boatyard either this weekend or next, the boiler has already been removed.
All the best
Neil

Neil,
Thank you, this is splendid news. I had to make a quick trip to UK because of a family bereavement (I just got home yesterday), but I did manage to see the old puffer lying above Lock 14 in the canal.

Best wishes,
Dave

charles henry
4th July 2009, 22:13
Hi, Charles,

Over the years more than one puffer has been called into service as a television performer to play the part of Para Handy's immortal Vital Spark. Many years ago, back in the 50's or 60's, I am not sure, the BBC produced a "Para Handy" series in which I think the puffer Saxon starred as the Vital Spark. Much later, in 1994, a new "Para Handy" TV series was made, and the puffer used had the name Vital Spark painted on her bows. After the series was finished, she was left to deteriorate in various quiet corners of the Crinan Canal in Argyllshire. This thread was started because I was confused as to the real name of that old ship now lying in Crinan, because up until now, no real puffer had ever been called Vital Spark. It turned out that she had originally been VIC 27, and had subsequently been named Auld Reekie. To compound the confusion, another puffer, the Eilean Eisdeal, was recently officially re-registered with the name of Vital Spark. She therefore becomes the first real puffer to officially bear that name. So now we have the "real" Vital Spark (ex Eilean Eisdeal) and the poor old TV star (the temporary and unofficial Vital Spark) each bearing the same name, which obviously would not do. The name Vital Spark was painted out on the old ship in the canal, and the name-board Maggie hung there instead. And thus matters stand at the present. The Maggie lies above Lock 14 in the canal, and it seems that moves are afoot to save her. Let us hope that this is indeed the case.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Dave

Very interesting, I wonder what a (working) puffer would cost today, but then it doesnt really matter for I am now too old for another boat (Anyway my wife would kill me)
de chas

vitalspark
4th July 2009, 23:57
Very interesting, I wonder what a (working) puffer would cost today, but then it doesnt really matter for I am now too old for another boat (Anyway my wife would kill me)
de chas

Hi, Charles,

I think that Eilean Eisdeal (now Vital Spark) was the last working puffer. These vessels were intended to fit the locks of the Forth and Clyde canal, which limited their length to 66 feet, so that they could fit in the canal's 70-foot locks. Many were actually built on the canal, at yards such as that of John Hay at Kirkintilloch. They were thus able to carry cargo such as barley from Stonehaven in eastern Scotland directly to the distilleries in Islay, and supported commerce through the Highlands and Islands for over 100 years.

If anybody knows of another working puffer, I would appreciate the information.

Best wishes,
Dave

airds
6th July 2009, 13:01
Hello Dave
The Vic27/Auld Reekie was bought last September by some people mainly based on Islay one being the manager of Bruichladdich Distillery and a few others.
The plan is to put her on the slip at the Crinan boatyard either this weekend or next, the boiler has already been removed.


As seen yesterday (5th July) at the top of the locks at Crinan.
But very much still in steam - and offering quick trips round the bay as part of the 'Crinan Classic' Festival (http://www.crinanclassic.com/) - was Vic32

vitalspark
6th July 2009, 16:43
As seen yesterday (5th July) at the top of the locks at Crinan.
But very much still in steam - and offering quick trips round the bay as part of the 'Crinan Classic' Festival (http://www.crinanclassic.com/) - was Vic32

Yes of course - and thanks for the nice pic of her with her passengers. When I replied to Charles about working puffers, I was thinking of puffers working in the commercial sphere (as was Eilean Eisdeal) taking cargo around the west coast. I don't think any of these are left - but if there are, it would be great to hear about them.

Best wishes,
Dave

airds
26th July 2009, 17:46
In Pictures - The Puffers
http://snipurl.com/nzv1c
(BBC)

vitalspark
29th July 2009, 00:29
In Pictures - The Puffers
http://snipurl.com/nzv1c
(BBC)

Thanks for that, David. A great glimpse of the life and times of the puffermen.

Best wishes,
Dave

vitalspark
19th October 2009, 11:01
For those of you who may be unaware of this, the VIC27/Auld Reekie/Vital Spark, under new ownership at last, has been hauled out at Crinan Boatyard and is now undergoing inspection followed, hopefully, by restoration.

I am thrilled - I have visited this little ship on every UK visit since 1994, when she was in Ardrishaig Basin, still with steam up from filming the "Para Handy" series. It distressed us hugely, watching her disintegrate year by year.

I wish the new owners, and their splendid little ship, well. Let us hope that before too long we can see her sailing again.

Best wishes,
Dave Kennedy

http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/197247

channelimages
4th January 2011, 22:30
Hi, Charles,

I think that Eilean Eisdeal (now Vital Spark) was the last working puffer. These vessels were intended to fit the locks of the Forth and Clyde canal, which limited their length to 66 feet, so that they could fit in the canal's 70-foot locks. Many were actually built on the canal, at yards such as that of John Hay at Kirkintilloch. They were thus able to carry cargo such as barley from Stonehaven in eastern Scotland directly to the distilleries in Islay, and supported commerce through the Highlands and Islands for over 100 years.

If anybody knows of another working puffer, I would appreciate the information.

Best wishes,
Dave

The last working Puffer was probably VIC 35 when she was the DS Explorer. in the early 2000's closely followed by VIC 57, when working as a sand dredger in Hayle as Coedmor. VIC 57 is now scrappes and as for VIC 35 she's a houseboat now on the Medway.

Regards
Chris
channelimages.com

Macphail
5th January 2011, 00:59
The MV Raylight and MV Glenrosa.
I was an engineer on the "Stirling Oak" in Loch Kishorn, 1976.
Those two puffers where very active, feeding the batching plant with aggregate from Kyleakin quarry, against the massive concrete structure of the Ninian Field centre platform.
It was a laugh a minute, the skippers where "Para Handy" tales men, the Queen paid a visit on her summer jolly, the skipper of the “Glenrosa” suggested that he picked her up of the “Britannia,” and showed her round. The Sunday run had to collect the Sunday papers for the camp, the drunken slurred voice came over the VHF, sorry, no Sunday papers, I left them in the bar.
John

islayshipping
18th January 2011, 19:59
I am currently looking for Pictures off the Puffers in at Port Ellen islay.

vicbitter57
29th January 2011, 07:41
Here's a link for info on Vic 27. I can remember watching the filming of Vital Spark when I was a kid, the director went crazy when a water skier got in the shot, it was at campbeltown I think.

http://www.caledonia.tv/productions/full-catalogue/video.aspx?id=1182

Regards to all, VB

paullad1984
6th February 2011, 15:31
My info has it that the vital spark lying at crinan is currently for sale, the boat yard which took her on wants rid of her

Robert Hilton
14th February 2011, 09:20
So which Vital Spark did I see when I loaded logs at Sandbank(s) in 2009? She had an effigy of Para Handy seated aft with a pint in his hand.