Mu­seum opens with story of the hum­ble puffer

Argyllshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

His­toric pho­to­graphs of puffer MV Spar­tan berthed at Ar­dr­ishaig and the Isle of Muck (1965) as well as at Iona (1968) fea­ture in a new ex­hi­bi­tion at the Scot­tish Mar­itime Mu­seum.

The mu­seum has wel­comed vis­i­tors back for the first time in al­most five months with the 100-ton, 66-foot long ma­jor new ex­hibit and vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence.

For the first time, vis­i­tors can now step inside the hold of MV Spar­tan, the last sur­viv­ing Scot­tish-built puffer in Scot­land, and im­merse them­selves in the story of the hun­dreds of puffers which per­formed a life­line ser­vice de­liv­er­ing ev­ery­thing from cows, cars and cab­bages to Scot­land’s is­lands and re­mote coastal com­mu­ni­ties for more than a hun­dred years.

The per­ma­nent Spar­tan: Inside Out ex­hi­bi­tion charts the evo­lu­tion of the puffer, which came to dom­i­nate cargo trade around Scot­land from the mid-1800s.

Named af­ter the ‘puff, puff’ of spent steam spew­ing out of the boat’s fun­nel, puffers were de­signed to travel where larger ves­sels couldn’t. With their unique flat-bot­tomed hulls they tra­versed the canal high­ways of main­land Scot­land and, where there was no suit­able pier or jetty, they ‘beached’ at low tide, dropped their cargo and sailed away at high tide.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures un­seen pho­to­graphs from the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion. These in­clude im­ages of early 1800s’ steam-pow­ered boats through to the seago­ing steam, and later diesel, puffers work­ing from the 1870s up un­til 1994 when the last ‘puffer’ com­pany, which also owned Spar­tan, Glen­light Ship­ping Ltd, ceased trad­ing.

David Mann, direc­tor of the Scot­tish Mar­itime Mu­seum, ex­plained: ‘We’re de­lighted to wel­come vis­i­tors back and open our doors with such a fan­tas­tic new ex­pe­ri­ence based around Spar­tan, which was the first his­toric ves­sel in the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion when it opened back in 1983.

Spar­tan, along­side SY Carola, which is be­lieved to be the world’s old­est seago­ing steam yacht, is one of al­most 50 of Scot­land’s most im­por­tant his­toric ves­sels, mar­itime arte­facts and ship­build­ing tools in the Scot­tish Mar­itime Mu­seum’s new on­line col­lec­tion of 3D mod­els and 360° vir­tual tours de­signed to help pre­serve and in­crease public ac­cess to Scot­land’s na­tional mar­itime her­itage col­lec­tion. The mu­seum is one of the first of such size in Scot­land to em­bark on a ma­jor 3D scan­ning project to dig­i­talise a whole col­lec­tion.

The Spar­tan on the Cri­nan Canal at Ar­dr­ishaig.

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