Glasgow fleet had vital role to play in World War Two
WITH their distinctive red, white and black coloured funnels, the ships of the Burns & Laird fleet were once a familiar sight at Glasgow’s Broomielaw.
The ‘Derry’ (or ‘Scotch’) boats, such as the Lairds Loch, operated between Glasgow to Derry until 1966, regularly transporting passengers, cattle and cargo.
The travel experience was not always first class, as passengers were sometimes overcrowded on uncomfortable wooden seating amongst smells lingering from the cattle previously unloaded at Merklands.
However, the firm’s services were important for trade and tourism, and played a significant role in migration between Scotland and Ireland. The fleet also covered services to other ports including Belfast, and the company’s offices were based on Robertson Street.
READ MORE: When Ken Dodd tried to save Glasgow's famous Alhambra
Burns & Laird was established in 1922, following a merger of two companies, G & J Burns and Laird Line. Both companies were pioneers of passenger and trade routes between Scotland and Ireland, with roots in early steam travel.
Glasgow produce merchants George and James Burns branched out into shipping when they launched a passenger steamer service between Glasgow and Ayr around 1821.
Services to Liverpool and Belfast soon followed. They were also involved with the Cunard Steam Ship Company which won a profitable contract to carry the transatlantic mail.
From 1822 Alexander Laird worked as an agent for several shipping line....