The MV Gay Queen - Rothesay

My grandfather James, was Coastguard at Lamlash, Arran, and on his retiral in 1901 he brought the family to Rothesay by puffer. It included himself, his Welsh wife Edith, nee Clay, six children and a parrot named Joey, until he surprisingly laid an egg. My father W Aidan McIver, and Mr John Morris (his wife May , nee Halliday - Pier Builders) had the M.V. Gay Queen built at Fraserburgh and brought through the Forth and Clyde Canal in august 1938.
She was originally launched as the May Queen II (We did have a smaller May Queen I) but were not allowed by the Board of Trade to use it, so used the word Gay which only meant happy in those days.

James and Edith at their Boat Building Yard
opposite 15 Argyle Place, Rothesay.
Photograph taken in 1919

The Gay Queen cruised mostly the Kyles of Bute and Loch Striven from her jetty then opposite the Pavilion. On Sundays she berthed at Colintraive Pier with "bona fide" travellers who were allowed to drink. She was requisitioned for "naval duties" during the second world war with an almost similar vessel "The Maid of Bute" owned by Mr Knox.

Aidan on board the MV May Queen
licensed to carry 80 passengers
constructed 1921

On arrival at Kyle of Lochalsh, two local worthies looking over the harbour wall, said, "we have been waiting weeks for these two virgins". We were given first option of buying the her back after the war and so resumed cruises. Music was provided by Mr Bob Buchanan who played the violin, he was a real character with music and folklore. He lived in Staffa Place. On demob from the services I bought into the firm now called McIver & Morris. The winter was occupied with maintenance to pass the two surveys required by Board of Trade examiners, she carried equipment for 130 passengers. I did try to point out places and things of interest. I regularly sang, so regularly that people in Rothesay on return, knew when to put on the kettle. One lady did say I had a mellow voice, on consulting the dictionary it Meant "over-ripe tending to go off".

I married Janet Duncan (daughter of Duncan(Plasterer), Watergate), in October 1948 and cruised the Gay Queen for 38 years, with many young lads, it was so interesting to see how they fared, later with my son David (his wife Jean, nee Macqueen - upholsterer) until retirement age, but by then people were going abroad or using their cars. Mr George Wilson tried for three years to make it pay, but its day had passed. Fortunately she still cruises in Poole, Dorset, but the denigration of the word 'Gay' meant even her named had to change. She cruises on at the grand old age of 63 years, i.e. 9 years older than the paddle steamer Waverley.

The Gay Queen at her Rothesay jetty.

Herbert McIver, born Bute.

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