Glenlee (ship)

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Picture of Glenlee as Galatea in 1922 at Cartagena Harbour.
Career (UK) Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom
Name: Glenlee
  • Archibald Sterling and Co Ltd, Glasgow (1896-1898)
  • Islamount Sailing Ship Co Ltd (Robert Ferguson & Co), Dundee (1898-1905)
  • Flint Castle Shipping Co Ltd (Robert Thomas & Co), Liverpool (1905-1918)
  • John Stewart & Co, London (1918-1919)
  • Clyde Maritime Trust, Glasgow (1993)
Builder: Anderson Rodger & Company, Port Glasgow, UK
Cost: £ 24,000 (1896)
Yard number: 324
Launched: 3 December 1896
Maiden voyage: 13 December 1896
Renamed: Islamount (1898)
Glenlee (1993)
Homeport: Port Glasgow (1896-1898); Dundee (1898-1905);
Liverpool (1905-1918); London (1918-1919);
Glasgow (1993-present)
Status: Museum ship since 1993
Career (Italy) Civil Ensign of Italy
Name: Clarastella
Owner: Società Italiana di Navigazione Stella d'Italia
Acquired: 1919
Homeport: Genoa (1919-1922)
Fate: Sold to the Spanish Navy
Career (Spain)
Name: Galatea
Owner: Escuela Naval Militar de Oficiales, Spanish Navy
Acquired: 1922
Homeport: El Ferrol (1922-1981); Seville (1981-1993)
Fate: Sold to Clyde Maritime Trust in 1993
General characteristics
Type: Three-masted barque
Tonnage: 1,613 GT (gross tonnage)
1,490 NT (net tonnage)
Displacement: ca. 2,990 tons
Length: 201 ft (61 m) LBP, 282 ft (86 m) LOA
223 feet (68 m) LOD (length on deck)
245.5 feet (74.8 m) LOH (length of hull)
Beam: 37.5 ft (11.4 m)
Depth of hold: 22.5 ft (6.9 m)
Capacity: 1490 tons

Glenlee is a steel-hulled three-masted barque, built in 1896 for Glasgow owners, trading as a cargo ship.[1] From 1922 it was a sail training ship in the Spanish Navy. It is now a museum ship at the Riverside Museum on Pointhouse Quay, Glasgow, known as The Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour.


Glenlee was built in 1896 at the Anderson Rodger & Company shipyard of Port Glasgow for the Glen-line of the Glasgow shipping company Archibald Sterling & Co. Ltd. and has a hull length of 245.5 ft (74.8 m), beam of 37.5 ft (11.4 m) and depth of 22.5 ft (6.9 m), the over-all length with the spike bowsprit is 282 ft (86 m).

It has 1,613 GRT and 1,490 NRT. Rigged only with double topgallant sails over double top sails, it was not equipped with royal sails (baldheader rigging) to save costs concerning gear and seamen. As with many baldheaded sailing ships the square sails were a little wider than the sails of a standard rigging to gain sail area for a better propulsion.


The Glenlee docked at it's new home outside the Riverside Museum, Glasgow.

On December 13, 1896, just ten days after it was launched fully rigged and seaworthy, its maiden voyage brought it in ballast to Liverpool and from there with a general cargo to Portland, Oregon. For 23 years it traded as a bulk cargo carrier under the Red Ensign via Cape of Good Hope to Australia, returning via Cape Horn, firstly under the ownership of Archibald Sterling and Co, Glasgow, then as Islamount of Islamount Sailing Ship Co Ltd (Robert Ferguson & Co), Dundee(1898-1905), and finally with the Flint Castle Shipping Co Ltd (Robert Thomas & Co), Liverpool (1905-1918).

Islamount was renamed the Clarastella in 1919 when it changed hands to the Società Italiana di Navigazione Stella d'Italia of Milan, Italy ('Star of Italy' Italian Shipping Company) who registered it in Genoa. The new owner had it repaired and equipped with two auxiliary diesel engines (1922).

In 1922 the ship came into the hands of the "Escuela Naval Militar de Oficiales" ("Officers' Military Navy School") as the Galatea to be used as a sail training ship. During this period the ship underwent a lot of changes to its hull and superstructure. A flying bridge was installed on the poop deck, a flying jibboom was attached to the spike bowsprit, and many other changes such as the installation of accommodation facilities for 300 cadets were made.

In April 1931 it became part of the Spanish Republican Navy. At the time of the coup of July 1936 it was at sea and reached Ferrol, a harbor that had been taken by the Nationalist faction.


After more than 47 years of service as a sail and later on as a stationary training ship it was first laid up in A Graña, Ferrol, its Spanish port of registry. In 1981 the underwater hull was re-plated at the drydock in Ferrol. Later on the more than 85 years old Glenlee was completely de-rigged down to a hulk (all yards with standing and running rigging and even the masts removed) and was towed to Seville to be used as a floating museum, but left forgotten. Some sources even reported that the ship was sunk in the harbour by removing its bronze sea cock valve, but salvaged later on by the Spanish Navy.

In any case the ship was in such poor condition that it was eventually decided to scrap it. In 1990 a British naval architect (Dr. Sir John Brown, 1901-2000) discovered the ship and in 1993 it was rescued from being scrapped and subsequently bought by the Clyde Maritime Trust at auction for ₧5000,000 or £40,000. After making the hull seaworthy (all openings on deck were closed and the flying bridge spanning the poop deck during its service in Spain and the attached flying jibboom were removed) the ship was returned to Glasgow months later in tow from Seville.

The Glenlee figurehead "Mary Doll".

After preliminary works in dry-dock such as the removal of the unnecessary propellers, the check and repair of all the plates below the waterline and new paint, a six-year-long process of restoration began including a new cut wooden figurehead, a complete set of new rigging including the re-assembling and re-stepping of its original masts and re-crossing of the old yards (1998), as well as many other replacements (original deckhouses) and repairs. Its old masts and many of the old yards, which still existed somewhere in Spain, were given back by the Spanish when they realized that the old ship would be really renewed to its original "Cape Horn status", painted grey again with "gun ports".

Except for the hull a new ship had to be rebuilt. All the changes made to the ship by the Spanish and previous owners had to be removed, such as all the cabins built for the trainees and a lot of scrap iron ballast in the frames of the holds. First of all it was given back its original name, Glenlee, by the Lord Provost of Glasgow on July 6, 1993 when the ship arrived in Glasgow for the first time since its launch in 1896 – 97 years ago - at its old and new port of registry - Glasgow Harbour. Glenlee is now recognised as part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection.

As a museum ship and tourist attraction, the Glenlee offers educational programmes, events including exhibitions and is a venue for the West End Festival and volunteering opportunities. Since June 2011, the ship has been open at Glasgow's new Riverside Museum.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schäuffelen, Otmar (2005), Chapman Great Sailing Ships Of The World, Hearst Books, pp. 141–142, ISBN 1588163849. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°51′45″N 4°17′53″W / 55.86263°N 4.298063°W / 55.86263; -4.298063