Henry Bell & Comet
WEREN'T we lucky with the weather!
The weather forecasts in the days running up to the Comet Bicentenary celebrations in Helensburgh were for a strong risk of thundery showers — and the forecasts were right.
A REINCARNATION of the early 19th century pioneer of steam navigation, Mr Henry Bell, returned to Helensburgh on Saturday August 4 2012 to assist with bicentenary celebrations of the commissioning of his revolutionary Comet, the world’s first commercially successful sea-going paddle steamer.
Before Mr Bell went on to welcome the arrival at Helensburgh pier of the world’s last sea going paddle steamer Waverley, he attended a gathering on the town’s promenade where he unveiled a new panel featuring information about the town including references to himself and his ground breaking invention.
A SOUVENIR of the Comet centenary celebrations turned up in Aberdeen in the summer of 2012, the bicentenary year.
Robert Campbell got in touch with Helensburgh Heritage Trust chairman Stewart Noble to say that he had a medal celebrating the Comet and Henry Bell Centenary, and he asked if there were any plans to produce a bicentenary medal.
Henry was Helensburgh’s first Provost and builder and proprietor of the Baths, later Queen’s, Hotel on the east seafront, close to the original pier where the Comet berthed.
Ian Jack writes that thanks to Bell's efforts, the Comet was recognised as the first commercially successful steamship in Europe, enabling Bell to claim his title as the father of steam navigation, and thus a leading figure among the Britons, and particularly Scotsmen, who shaped the modern world.
THE year of 1962 marked the 150th anniversary of Henry Bell's prestigious steamship; in order to highlight and celebrate this occasions Sir William Lithgow composed a letter showing interest in funding construction of a replica of the ‘Comet’ which was to be made seaworthy for a short period of time.
Lithgow contracted George Thompson of Buckie to build the hull of the ship stating: