Last updated on August 23rd, 2023 at 01:32 pm

Splice the mainbrace and look out for the roaring forties.

SV Glenlee, Riverside, Clyde, GlasgowTall Ship, Glenlee, Glasgow, RiversaideBerthed by the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, in the former Queen’s Dock, is the SV (sailing vessel) Glenlee.  Known locally simply as “The Tall Ship”, this is one of the last steel-hulled bulk cargo carriers around, one of only 5 Clyde-built sailing ships still afloat (according to the Tall Ship’s website) – and the only one in Britain.  She is a barque – which, for the benefit of us landlubbers is not better than being a bite, but means, “a vessel with aftermost mast fore-and-aft rigged and remaining masts square rigged” (Concise Oxford Dictionary).  So now you know.

SV Glenlee, the Tall Ship at RiversideTall Ship, GlasgowLaunched in 1896, Glenlee sallied forth from home ports Glasgow, Dundee, Liverpool and London transporting cargoes such as grain and guano, across the seven seas.  She sailed round the globe four times, had a brief spell under Italian ownership and from 1922-1969 was, renamed as the Galatea, a sail training ship for the Spanish Navy.  In 1990, she was rediscovered, rotting, by British naval architect Dr Sir John Brown in Seville, where she had been laid up since 1981.  The Clyde Maritime Trust paid 5 million pesetas (£40,000) in 1992, brought her home to Glasgow and spent six years restoring her.  Amazingly, the original masts were found by the Spaniards, and donated back.  The restorers have done a grand job, though I doubt the average person can begin to imagine what it must have been like, battling past Cape Horn, at the bottom end of South America, in ships like this a century or so ago.

Glenlee, below decksGlenlee, ship's bellBy the way, her figurehead is called Mary Doll – I have no idea why.

SV Glenlee, tall ship, Glasgow


13 thoughts on “Glenlee”

  1. Harry Campbell

    The only one of only five Clyde-built sailing ships still afloat in Britain? The rather famous Cutty Sark (in London) was built in Dumbarton, doesn’t she count?

    1. Hi – thanks for dropping in. The quote “one of only five Clyde-built sailing ships still afloat” comes from the Glenlee’s website – I have now included a link in the article. You’re absolutely right, Cutty Sark (very impressive to visit) was built on the Clyde, but I guess might be excluded because she’s in dry dock?

  2. That’a beautiful sailing vessel and a wonderful story of how it has been restored. West Bay was an important wooden ship building port until the 1880’s. It was interesting for me to see a steel ship from that time, which was the cause of the decline in the industry here. Sarah x

  3. I know that ‘doll’ is used in Glasgow as a term of endearment. I think that Rab C Nesbitt’s wife in the Glasgow-set comedy series ‘Rab C Nesbitt’ was called Mary Doll.

A Bit About Britain welcomes visitors. What do you think?

Scroll to Top