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:


A NEW public house and restaurant in Helensburgh, named after Comet steamship pioneer Henry Bell, opened at the end of May 2012.

The Wetherspoons chain spent £1.4million re-developing the former Kerrs, then Quorum, carpet and furniture showroom near the foot of James Street, and opposite similar premises called Logie Baird after the burgh-born TV inventor.

JLB-display-Maritime-Museum_thumb_medium400_442THREE important Henry Bell and the Comet artefacts cannot be seen at present.

They are normally on show in the Linthouse building at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine, but the building is currently being given a new roof. It is hoped to re-open the facility next Easter.

Comet-engine-w_thumb_medium350_474IT is now some 192 years since the wreck of the first River Clyde paddle steamer, the PS Comet, which was lost on Loch Craignish, on December 13 1820.

Since that time there have been a number of articles written and published about the history of the Comet, her loss, and the salvage attempts made at Craignish. There does, however, seem to be some doubt about exactly what engine was fitted in the Comet at the time of her wreck, and whether or not her engine was salvaged.

Comet-Light-w_thumb_medium250_291THE much-admired Comet street lamps in Helensburgh’s Colquhoun Square disappeared when Argyll and Bute Council radically altered the square.

The changes were part of the CHORD — Campbeltown, Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay, Dunoon — project, which also involved alterations to the seafront.

London_Science_Museum_thumb_medium200_144THREE important Henry Bell exhibits at the London Science Museum in South Kensington are in storage and no longer on display.

Until the summer of 2012 a rigged model of the Comet, Alexander Nasmyth's representation of the Comet on the Forth, and Symington's Dalswinton engine were on show in the Marine Engines area of the Shipping Galleries on the second floor.

J.Craig-OsborneA COMPREHENSIVE booklet written in 2007 by J.Craig Osborne of the Scottish Maritime Museum on 'The Comet and her Creators' is still available.

It tells and shows images of the men who built Henry Bell's Comet, telling the story of the inventor from his birth in Torphichen in 1767 and the men with whom he worked to build and operate the two Comet steamships.

queenshotelTHE Bells and Helensburgh are inextricably linked with the history of the other.

Margaret Bell, wife of Henry Bell, owner of the 'Comet' and Helensburgh’s first Provost, was a Seceeder who travelled to Dumbarton to worship. Later she opened her home, the Bath’s Hotel, for Sunday worship, arranging for a minister to come and preach there.

neil-macleod-painting-w_thumb_medium350_243A PAINTING of Henry Bell's Comet is now available as an A3 print.

It is the work of noted Helensburgh artist Neil Macleod, and a limited number of prints were prepared to mark the 2012 Comet bicentenary.

Comet-2012-logoHELENSBURGH Tree Conservation Trust's Spring Planting in the spring of 2012 included a celebration of the Comet bicentenary.

Members decided to plant 49 trees in Henry Bell Street to mark the occasion. The varieties were Crataegus Rosea Plena and Pauls Scarlet.

Comet-to-Calmac-cover_thumb_medium206_264A BOOK which uses Henry Bell's Comet as its starting point, 'From Comet To Cal Mac', was published at the start of 2012, the Comet bicentenary year.

Sub-titled 'Two Centuries of Hebridean & Clyde Shipping', it looks at the development and establishment of what we know now as Caledonian MacBrayne.

Henry-Bells-Comet-w_thumb_medium400_252WHEN Henry Bell’s steamboat Comet started its career, it introduced the pleasure of spending a day at a seaside resort to Glasgow’s teeming population, eager for a breath of salt water air.

But some thought it was the Devil's work.

Comet-victim-headstone-w_thumb_medium300_375THE second Comet was built at Dumbarton in 1821, and maintained the West Highland service for four years.

When the Caledonian Canal was opened in 1822 she extended her journey as far north as Inverness, and it was when returning from that place on the evening of October 21, 1825 that she came to an untimely and disastrous end.

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