Celebrating Scotland’s Maritime Heritage


Scotland has a proud and extensive maritime heritage including ship building, ports, navigation, exploration and trade. 

In 1511, James IV built the ‘Great Michael’ in Newhaven – the largest ship in Europe at the time. She weighed 1,000 tons, was 240 feet in length and was manned by 1,000 seamen and 120 gunners. Sadly the Great Michael is no more. It has been suggested that ‘Mons Meg’ based at Edinburgh Castle was one of the armaments on the ship.

In 1869 the Cutty Sark was built in Dumbarton, she was one of the last tea clippers to be built and one of the fastest. The Cutty Sark has been preserved as a museum ship in dry dock at Greenwich, London.

In 1936 the RMS Queen Mary was built by John Brown & Company in Clydebank. She won the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing in 1936. Having lost the title in 1937, she recaptured it in 1938 with a record held until 1952 – when the title was won by the SS United States. The Queen Mary was withdrawn from service in 1967 and is now a hotel and tourist attraction at Long Beach, California.

Closer to home, Scotland’s remarkable maritime story is told by five world-class ships that welcome you onboard.

PS Waverley

The Waverley is the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. Magnificently restored with towering funnels, timber decks, gleaming varnish and brass. Shipbuilders A. & J. Inglis of Glasgow launched the new 693 tonne steamer in October 1946. She sailed from Craigendoran on the Firth of Clyde to Arrochar on Loch Long until 1973. CalMac withdrew Waverley after the 1973 season as she was... More

The Royal Yacht Britannia

The Royal Yacht Britannia was launched from the John Brown & Company shipyard in Clydebank on 16 April, 1953. For over 44 years she served the Royal Family, travelling over one million miles to become the most famous ship in the world. The ship was designed with three masts, a 133-foot (41 m) foremast, a 139-foot (42 m) mainmast, and a 118-foot (36 m) mizzenmast. The top 20 feet (6.1 m)... More

HMS Unicorn

Over 190 years old, the Frigate Unicorn is one of the six oldest ships in the world and is Scotland’s only preserved warship. The classic sailing frigate was one of the most successful and charismatic ship designs of the age. Built at Chatham Dockyard, Kent, in 1824, Unicorn would have been one of the elite ships of the fleet in her day. However, she was built shortly after the great sea... More

The Glenlee

The Glenlee is a classic example of the last age of sail when metal-hulled sailing ships were used on long haul routes as bulk carriers. 245 feet in length and 1613 tons, she was one of a group of 10 steel sailing vessels built for the Glasgow shipping firm of Archibald Sterling & Co. in Port Glasgow at the yard of Anderson Rodger & Company. She was launched in 1896 and circumnavigated... More

RSS Discovery

Experience life in the Antarctic with Captain Scott and his crew on the RRS Discovery at Discovery Point. Learn more about one of the most heroic voyages of exploration ever undertaken. RRS Discovery was the last traditional wooden three-masted ship to be built in Britain. Designed for Antarctic research, she was launched as a Royal Research Ship (RRS) in 1901. Her first mission was the... More

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