This beautifully produced and fascinating book tells the story of David MacBrayne, his ships and his company, his predecessors, rivals and successors. It explores the world of the early steamships, their successes and failures, as well as their contribution to the ever-changing social fabric of the Highlands and Islands.
Today, the shipowner David MacBrayne (1817-1907) is just as well-known as Samuel Cunard. Red-funnelled ships which bear his name continue to operate in the West Highlands a century after his death. In The Kingdom of MacBrayne, emigrants, tourists, ordinary travellers and crew members, from engineers to pursers, speak of the ships and their impact on their world. The book documents the arrival of motor-ships, in which David MacBrayne was a world leader, in the early 1900s, the revitalisation of MacBrayne by Coast Lines and the LMS Railway in 1928, and the building of a powerful fleet of modern car-ferries following the formation of Caledonian MacBrayne in 1973.
The book also looks at David MacBrayne's contemporaries in West Highland shipping, notably Martin Orme and John McCallum, whose famous ships, Dunara Castle and Hebrides, operated circular tours from Glasgow to remote St Kilda from 1877 to 1939. The Kingdom of MacBrayne is lavishly illustrated with drawings, paintings and photographs in black-and-white and colour, most of them shown here for the first time. Featuring the work of artists and model-makers, as well as advertisements and brochures, it examines, by word and image, the whole story of MacBrayne's impact on the the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, set in the context of developments in shipping in the wider world.