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Dunara Castle

Dunara Castle

SS Dunara Castle in the Sound of Iona

One day in 1983 I was in a cafe under a railway bridge in Greenock. On the wall was a miscellaneous collection of pictures and photographs, some for sale. I’m not in the habit of buying art but I bought this picture for £20. I liked view of the Sound of Iona ( have sailed through it a few times ) and the little ship with the waving figures on the fore deck had a certain appeal.

Eventually my father in law who thought it deserved a decent frame reframed it. I had thought it was print or a coloured etching but it turned out to be a very good pen and ink according to FiL who was a principle teacher of art and Glasgow School of Art alumni and knew about these things.

I eventually found out that the vessel was the Dunara Castle ( named after Du Ara Castle on the island of Mull ). She was built in Paisley in 1875 and traded from the Clyde to the Outer Hebrides until 1948. She was the vessel in which the last of the St Kilda islanders were evacuated from the Island in 1930 and there is further Scottish Screen Archive of ‘A Voyage To St Kilda on the SS Dunara Castle’ (1946 ?).

It is surprising to me that such a long career (73 years) should have left so little trace, some of the crew must have spent their entire careers aboard her and she traded through both World Wars.

Anyway the picture has hung above my desk for the last 30+ years and I still enjoy looking at it.

Categories: General
  1. November 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    It’s my kind of picture. How big is the original? I only ask because I magnified your image and the attention to detail is excellent. You can even pick out the insulators on the radio aerials.running between the mast heads

  2. November 30, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    James, The original picture is 260mm wide and 70mm high.

  3. November 30, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Whoever the artist was, he (or she) knew a lot about that particular ship as well as artistic ability.

  4. November 30, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    The artist was a John Stanger. I only know that from the picture and can’t find out any more about him. Stanger I think is an Orcadian name.

  5. November 30, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Jazz: what size would that be in proper measures?

  6. November 30, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I believe she was 105ft long so beam probably about 25 ft.

  7. December 1, 2014 at 8:10 am

    You’ve probably read this bot there are some more images of her here

  8. December 1, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Was just thinking that the artist seems to know the ship far better than the clarity offered by any ‘photo of the period and I wonder if he could have been a member of the crew? This chap Meek (as an islander) have more knowledge and may be worth an email

  9. Pseu
    December 1, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Jazz, had you see you are the winner and need to set the next photo competition?

  10. December 1, 2014 at 10:50 am

    James, The artist is John Stanger. I’m sure I’ve seen pictures of ships by him somewhere else, anyway I’ve sent an enquiry to Donald Meek.
    Re. the Photo Comp’. How does one go about setting it ?

  11. December 1, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Re the photo competition; no idea. Be really interested to hear any response from Meek tho’

  12. Soutie
    December 2, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Hi Jazz

    Simply author a post and title it “December Photo Challenge” (or similar.)

    The two important criteria are subject and closing date

    You can perhaps embellish the post with a picture of your own but that’s up to you 🙂

    Sit back and wait for the entries to pour in!

    (Don’t worry about the notice in the top info bar, that of course gets updated automatically by magic 😉 )

  13. December 2, 2014 at 7:25 am

    G’morgen, S! Recovered from the weekend’s defeat, I see! 😚

  14. Soutie
    December 2, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I have, thank you for your concern 🙂

  15. O Zangado
    December 2, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Mornin’ Jazz. Have a like and a link.


    I remember ships like this at the Pier Head back in the late 50s and early 60s.

    Off topic (nearly) an old Liverpool maritime joke – Two Scouse housewives talking in a Birkenhead shop.

    “My husband”s a steward and he works for Cunard.”

    “My husband’s a welder at Cammell Laird and he works quite hard too.”

    Oh, is that my taxi? I thank you.


  16. December 2, 2014 at 9:26 am

    “My husband”s a steward and he works for Cunard.”

    Was that Mrs Prescott ?

  17. Pseu
    December 3, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Any connection with the Trans Vaal Castle, in which I travelled to South Africa as a child?


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