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Every year at this time, Helensburgh Library hosts a new exhibition of paintings from the Anderson Trust Collection.

A different theme is chosen each year so that, in time, all the paintings are displayed in different contexts, but this year’s exhibition is based not so much on a theme as a challenge.

The Committee and Trustees were asked to choose three favourite paintings from the 136 works in the Collection and the current exhibition is the result of their choice – inevitably a very varied selection in subject and style because the choice of a piece of art is largely subjective.

Burgh Boundary Stones of Helensburgh – Transcription of Town Council minutes for 27 July 1833

At Helensburgh the twenty-seventh day of July eighteen hundred and thirty-three, at eight o'clock AM being the time fixed for ascertaining and going along the Boundary lines of the Burgh specified in the charter and fixing in proper places Boundary stones in order that the Boundaries may be known in time coming.


Illustration of Comet passing Dumbarton Castle - The Mitchell Library, Glasgow City Libraries and Archives

Article Courtesy of Lochside Press

The wreck of Europe’s first commercial steamship has been designated as a scheduled monument by Historic Environment Scotland.

Comet, created by Henry Bell who became Helensburgh’s first provost, was recently discovered in the fast tidal waters of the Dorus Mor, west of Crinan in Argyll and Bute.

Henry Bell (1767-1830) came to live in Helensburgh in 1806.

Already a successful businessman, engineer and architect, he built the Baths Hotel (later the Queen’s Hotel) in East Clyde Street to run with his wife Margaret as a spa near the marine villas of the wealthy Glasgow merchants who either lived in the town or kept a mansion as a summer holiday home.

Comet was a wooden paddle steamer, built in Port Glasgow by John Wood & Sons in 1811-12, which changed the face of travel on the Clyde.

Designed to carry passengers between Port Glasgow and Helensburgh, the name ‘Comet’ is a direct reference to the Great Comet of 1811, a celestial event in which a comet passed by the earth and was visible to the naked eye for 260 days.

Comet was operational for eight years on the Clyde, then the Forth and from September 1819, on a new Glasgow to Fort William service.

Wrecked off Craignish Point, west of Crinan, on 19 December 1820, the vessel is believed to have split in half after running aground due to a navigational error.

Comet was carrying no passengers at the time of its loss, and Henry Bell and the crew managed to get safely ashore.

A dive survey by Wessex Archaeology in September 2021 confirmed that the visible remains of the wreck which survive on the seabed are likely to be from the front half of the ship.

Photograph by Wessex Archaeology, Copyright Historic Environment Scotland

These include the engine assemblage, possible flue and paddle shaft. Further elements of the wreck are likely to survive nearby.

Historic marine protected (MPA) areas are usually the favoured designation for marine heritage sites in Scotland.

However, in this instance, it has been decided to designate the wreck as a scheduled monument. This offers protection to this potentially vulnerable wreck as an interim measure until a decision is taken by the Scottish Government on designating the site as a Historic MPA.

Dara Parsons, head of designations at HES, said: “In September 2020 we were invited to assess the remains of Comet for designation following its discovery by members of Dalriada Dive Club, Oban.

“There are very few examples of pre-1820 steamships known in the UK. As such the remains at the site of the Comet are extremely rare and merit further detailed study. Henry Bell’s Comet is of international significance as Europe’s first commercial steamship and occupies an important place in the history of steam-powered navigation.

“By designating the wreck with scheduled monument status, this means that visitors can dive on the wreck but must not disturb the wreck or remove artefacts without scheduled monument consent from Historic Environment Scotland, to help protect the remains of this significant vessel.”

Tony Dalton, who coordinated the search for the wreck site, commented: “Over three years of research, exploration and survey by a small group in Argyll established the correct facts behind the wrecking of Comet and enabled us to pinpoint the site.

“Together with Glasgow Museums it was very much a team effort, leading to diving and discovery by John & Joanne Beaton, together with images of the engine, two centuries after it sank.

“Comet was one of the earliest steamships to be wrecked in Britain, and the initial survey by Wessex Archaeology reveals a wealth of surviving artefacts that can improve our understanding of very early steamships.

“We are all delighted that Comet is given the vital protection of designation so that further surveys can gain more knowledge and understanding from this wreck of national importance.”

Designating the wreck ensures that its importance is taken into account in future decisions about its management.


HER Royal Highness Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria, had a huge impact on Helensburgh and Garelochside, where she lived in Rosneath Castle and loved the beauty and quietness of the Gareloch.

The area provided a haven for her in her later years after a fascinating and busy earlier life inevitable for a daughter of Britain’s longest serving monarch from 1837-1901.

HELENSBURGH has always prided itself that a Prime Minister came from the burgh, despite the fact that he is known as “The Unknown Prime Minister”.

A Conservative, the Rt Hon Andrew Bonar Law MP occupied 10 Downing Street for just 209 days in 1922-23, succeeding the much better known Liberal, David Lloyd George, who had served from 1916-22.

A HELENSBURGH man who served as a County Councillor for 23 years was a First World War hero who won the Victoria Cross, the top award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

Colonel George de Cardonnel Elmsall Findlay was born on August 20 1889 in Cardross and died suddenly at his burgh home, Drumfork House, on June 26 1967 at the age of 77.

by Malcolm Baird

THE sad event of 8 September 2022 has set me thinking back to the Queen’s Accession on 6 February 1952.

At this time I was a 17 year old pupil at Fettes College in Edinburgh, keenly studying chemistry and physics while trying to avoid serious injury on the rugby field.

Classes were interrupted by an urgent message from the Headmaster summoning the school to a parade in front of the main building. As we assembled, the whisper went round that King George VI was dead. This came as a shock, because the press and the radio had declared that the King’s health was stable after his lung operation a few months earlier.
Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh had flown out on an African tour, from which they had to return hurriedly upon hearing the news of the King’s death. At the Fettes parade, the Headmaster formally broke the news and called for a minute of silence.

A FOLK singer who came to live in Helensburgh 2007 is famous throughout Scotland and has been described as having ‘a God given voice that knocks you sideways’.

Kirsten Easdale, who now lives with her partner, fine art photographer Steve Niblock, in Arrochar, has performed at major international festivals and events worldwide and supported artists like Shane McGowan and Donnie Munroe of Runrig.

A FORMER professional footballer who spent the last 18 years of his life in Helensburgh managed Manchesder United for five years and Ipswich Town for 18 years.

Butcher’s son Adam Scott Mathewson Duncan, known to his friends as Scooby, was born in Dumbarton on November 2 1888, one of seven siblings, and died in Helensburgh on October 3 1976 aged 87.


Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation – number SC024603


Trustees' Annual Report for the year ended 31 March 2023

The Trustees have pleasure in presenting the report together with the financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2023


Charity name - Helensburgh Heritage Trust Charity number - SC024603 

Address - 28 East Abercromby Street, Helensburgh G84 7SQ


Robert Ryan  - Chairman; Fiona Howard - Minute Secretary (co-opted 27 June 2022); Stewart Noble - Treasurer; Dr Nigel Allan - (resigned 30 November 2022); Cecilia Dunlop ( resigned 30 August 2022); Alison Gildea; Alistair McIntyre; Calum McNicol; Chris Packard - (co-opted 13 February 2023); Chris Sanders                                      

Honorary MembersProf Malcolm Baird (President); Michael Davis; William Petrie OBE JP DL  (died August 2022)

THE HELENSBURGH Town Council visitors book, covering 1947-75, appeared for sale at an auction house in Folkestone in Kent in May — and has been bought by Helensburgh Heritage Trust.

Quite how it got there is a mystery. However the Trust was alerted to its potential sale both by member Penny Johnston and by Phil Worms of the former Helensburgh Heroes project.

Welcome to Helensburgh Heritage

Bells Comet

WELCOME to the Helensburgh Heritage Trust website.

We hope you find it simple to navigate, with 1,702 articles, a Photo Gallery with 2,179 images in 23 albums, letters, 18 document downloads, and links to 113 local websites.

Contributions are welcome, and should be emailed using Contact Us.

Follow this link to see a list of, and links to, all the articles in the various categories.

2023 Annual General Meeting

The Helensburgh Heritage Trust Annual General Meeting will be held at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, 25 October 2023 in the Marriage Suite of the Helensburgh and Lomond Civic Centre, 38 East Clyde Street, Helensburgh G84 7PG. All are welcome.

followed by

Marion Maudsley

The Glasgow Boys – and Girls – in Helensburgh

The Glasgow Boys were a circle of influential modern artists and designers working in Glasgow in the late 19th century – but some of them also worked in Helensburgh, as did some of the Glasgow Girls

George Maclachlan, Esq, Town Clerk of Helensburgh by Sir James Guthrie

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Charity Number

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation