Doon the Water

Some of the maritime memorabilia at Bute Museum

Rothesay has been a popular destination, particularly with families from the west of Scotland, from the mid-19th century. The reason for the increase in popularity of Rothesay as a holiday destination was the improvement of transport links with the mainland. Being able to board a steamer at Broomielaw and travel ’doon the water’ to Rothesay opened up the island, first of all to the prosperous Glasgow merchants and then to ordinary folk who now had the luxury of annual holidays.

The Duchess of Fife paddlebox

The Duchess of Fife paddlebox

The museum has a wonderful collection of steamer memorabilia on display. This includes the paddle box from the Duchess of Fife, the name board from the Iona and ships’ pennants. Many of the museum’s collection of steamer models are on display – from a tiny model of the Comet to a very large scale model of the Duchess of Fife. There are also many small items such as crockery and cutlery used to eat a 3-course meal on board a steamer, a silk souvenir handkerchief from the Lord of the Isles or a Mauchline ware box bought aboard the S.S. Columba. Some of the huge archive of photos and postcards are also on permanent view.

Pointing Porters

Rothesay pier porters of yesteryear

On reaching Rothesay, visitors could enjoy all the traditional seaside pleasures of a Clyde resort. The ‘Holiday Isle’ case reflects these simple enjoyments – Uncle Phil’s Punch and Judy from Children’s corner, a porter’s badge belonging to one of Rothesay’s unique Pointing Porters, a metal sign for the De Luxe cinema ‘for good Talkies’ and much, much more.

Relics of Rothesay's heyday as a seaside resort

Relics of Rothesay’s heyday as a seaside resort

Whether you are  a steamer enthusiast, an interested visitor or someone who visited Rothesay as a child, there is so much to see and learn about in this part of the museum’s collection.