The Wotherspoon Collection The Wotherspoon Collection

About the collection

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James Wotherspoon (1858-1936) was born into a well-to-do family in Glasgow. His father owned a confectionery business but in the 1870s, capitalising on the newly-discovered use of asbestos for steam engine packing, he started up an asbestos and rubber factory, Thus began the family's working relationship with ships and shipping.   

Wotherspoon began compiling scrapbooks of photographs and cuttings relating to shipbuilding in the 1890s. The Mitchell Library acquired this collection of 41 folio albums, entitled In the Track of The Comet, after the name of the first commercial steamboat built and launched on the River Clyde in 1812. This unique and important pictorial record chronicles the rise and progress of shipbuilding and shipping on the River Clyde, the West Coast of Scotland and The English Channel.

It contains: over 4,000 illustrations of ships; portraits of shipbuilders, engineers, ship owners and ship captains; drawings of flags and funnels and views of lighthouses, piers and railway stations. All are meticulously captioned and inserted in sequence, from The Comet in 1812 to the building of the Empress of Britain in the 1930s. There is an alphabetical name index.

Finding aid

Images from the Collection, as well as other items relating to James Wotherspoon, are available on the SCRAN website. You can view these from any PC in The Mitchell Library - please ask library staff for more information.

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