The Bell that Crossed the Pond Twice

Supporting the preservation and operation of paddle steamers Waverley and Kingswear Castle

The Bell that Crossed the Pond Twice

Back in August 2018, a man named Brendan Franklin emailed the Scottish Branch to say that he was the owner of a ship’s bell engraved ‘Jeanie Deans’, and he wondered whether we could confirm if this bell was from the Clyde Steamer of that name dating from 1931.

An examination of photographs which Brendan provided confirmed that the bell was the correct style for an LNER ship, and that the bracket was in the correct orientation for the mounting bracket arrangement on the Jeanie. And why would a bell be engraved ‘Jeanie Deans’ if not for use aboard a ship of that name?

We were then able to confirm to Brendan that the bell did indeed appear to be from the 1931 Jeanie Deans, but then we went on to ask what his intentions for it were. We explained that Jeanie Deans was the ‘elder sister’ of the current Waverley, and that the forward lounge bar of the current ship is named the Jeanie Deans Lounge, making it a very appropriate location to display the bell.

PS Jeanie Deans.Peter Reid

Brendan readily agreed to sell the bell to PSPS for a very reasonable price, but at this point it came to light that Brendan and the bell were not in the UK, but in Florida!

The PSPS Scottish Branch paid for the bell plus the carriage from Tampa, and the UK import duties and VAT, and the bell duly crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Glasgow on 27th December. After a quick clean-up it was taken aboard MV Clyde Clipper for the Scottish Branch Festive Cruise the following day – its first cruise on the Clyde in 55 years!

Reunited with the Clyde. The bell from Jeanie Deans on display during the Scottish Branch Festive Cruise.Gordon Wilson

Brendan advised that he had been given the bell by his grandmother, who bought it at an auction in Cold Spring, New York some time in the 1970s. After Jeanie Deans was withdrawn from Clyde service in 1964, she spent two further years in service on the Thames as Queen of the South in 1966 and 1967. As far as we can tell during these years she still had her ‘Jeanie Deans’ bell in position, so it must have been removed either before she left under tow to Belgium for scrapping towards the end of 1967, or just after she arrived there.

If anyone can shed any light on how the bell subsequently came to be in USA, that would be very interesting and very much appreciated. Contact us here.