ON THIS DAY – Oct 14: William Symington, demonstrated the World’s first paddle propelled steamboat at Dalswinton Loch in 1788.
A local banker Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, just north of Dumfries funded the demonstration, after previously developed a number of experiments with double-hulled pleasure boats powered by cranked paddle-wheels placed in the middle.
Recollections of the first steam-powered trip, said that the boat went at 5mph and the Robert Burns was onboard. Robert Burns own diaries and letters at the time give no indication that this was the case, although he was farming at Ellisland, a neighbouring farm.
The experiment did ultimately demonstrate, however, that a steam engine would work on a boat.
The model of the steamboat with its two masts, two paddle wheels, two rudders and funnel was made by James G Jeffs, a notable local artist/craftsman and a former curator of Dumfries Museum.