Pibroch Puffer at Caol Ila Distillery

A friend from Islay sent me a beautiful old photograph and he mentioned the fact that he enjoys the old images of Islay so much. I think, and hope, that a lot of the readers will enjoy these old images too. I already had quite a few positive comments so for now we stay in the nostalgic mood for a while longer, at least for tonight. The image I show you tonight is taken from an old Islay Guide Book, not the one from Keith Faulks, but another one, older I reckon.

When you visit the distilleries on Islay you must have noticed that, besides being located near the sea, most of them (still) have a pier where vessels can dock. Before the days of roads, lorries and drive on drive off ferries, the whisky casks from Islay's distilleries were shipped away on small cargo boats known as puffers or Clyde puffers. These puffers operated on the west coast of Scotland and the Clyde and were usually powered by steam and later by diesel engines. The image on the right shows the puffer Pibroch loading casks at Caol-Ila distillery. The Pibroch has quite a history and it's interesting to know that there were two Pibrochs. The last one, built in 1957, is lying in letterfrack Ireland, in desperate need of restoration. Below a quote from the Pibroch website: Continue reading...

Built in 1957 at Scott & Sons, Bowling, Glasgow, she was the second puffer to have the name Pibroch. The first Pibroch had been built in 1923, also by Scotts of Bowling, for the Mackie Bros, of the White Horse Distillery of Lagavulin, Islay. She served them and their successors, Scottish Malt Distillers for 34 years and was a familiar sight on her weekly voyages to Islay. She was replaced by the motor vessel in 1957, was sold and renamed Texa. She later became Cumbrae Lass which name she retained until she was broken up in 1967. The present Pibroch was built for the Distillers Company Ltd and she was also involved in the weekly run to the Islay Distilleries. She was acquired by the Glenlight Shipping Company in 1976 and for the first three years she was carrying out general cargo duties on the West Coast of Scotland.

The puffers were immortalized by the hillarious crew of Para Handy on the puffer "Vital Spark." For those who have never seen Para Handy and his crew, and for those who did, I included a fragment of Bad Luck Cargo. Enjoy!

Tag: puffer vital spark pibroch caol ila history

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