Estuarial  Fire Boats and St. Mungo     Photos

The entry for the St. Mungo in the Merchant Ship Registry, Part 1 registration was closed on the 8th December 2000 at Granton. At that time she was registered to Folmer Diving Projects Ltd. Her Official Number was 301391. (02920 448868).

The present whereabouts of St Mungo is unknown, if you know where she is or if scrapped, please let me know, I'm looking for an up to date photo of her.

The marine Division started during the war in 1942 with two fire boats. In 1951 Fireboat 518 was found to have dry and wet rot which had penetrated the main timbers and she had to be withdrawn and scrapped. The remaining one was Fireboat 275 which remained in service until replaced by the St. Mungo.

Built in 1911 as "George Wishart the Matyr" at John Cran & Co.'s yard in Leith her name was changed to "Rena" in 1924. A public steamer until 1940 when ownership changed to Glasgow Corporation as she was acquired as a Fire Float. She served as a fire boat in Glasgow Harbour during the second world war, she was damaged by bomb splinters during the Clydeside Blitz of 1941. Length 52.1', Beam 11.5', Draft 5.3', 4 cylinder 8"x12" oil engine.

Purchased for £900 in May 1941 by Glasgow Corporation for use as a Fire Float. She was in collision with another vessel on the 6th of August 1941.



N. F. S. Development on Clyde

A fleet of six fire boats manned by seamen fire-fighters keeps guard on the river Clyde ready at a moment’s notice to tackle outbreaks of fire on the river or adjacent to it.
The force engaged on fire prevention work at Glasgow Harbour numbers 160, and forms the Marine Division of the National Fire Service in the area. It is a war time development. In pre war days outbreaks of fire in the harbour were dealt with by the city fire brigade. In extreme circumstances four passenger ferries belonging to the port authority augmented the land appliances, but they were fitted with pumps of low capacity.
The need for increasing the fire fighting strength which could be brought to bear from the river on fires was emphasised by a serious outbreak in a vessel in 1940, when a number of people had to be evacuated from their homes in the dock area because of the risk of explosion.
The fire boat fleet was the result. It has already proved its value, and there is little doubt that the new division, which at present comprises two sub divisions and eight stations, will be a feature of post war development on the Clyde.
Under the guidance of Fire Force Commander Martin Chadwick, a party of press representatives witnessed a demonstration by the fire boat fleet, which is under the command of Senior Company Officer William Thomson, who was seconded by the Clyde Navigation Trust to the N. F. S. in May last. As depute harbourmaster at Glasgow Mr Thomson earned the civic Life-Saving Medal in 1932, and as the Trust’s firemaster he was awarded the M.B.E. for his work during the Clydebank blitz.


Two types of foam apparatus used for fighting oil fires were seen in operation – the No. 2 Foam Branch (Knapsack Set) and the No. 10 Foam Branch. In the former – the smaller of the two – the tank for manufacturing the foam is carried on the fireman’s back, and is ideal for dealing with oil fuel fires in engine rooms or fires caused by a hot rivet or spark setting oil on the surface of the river alight – a not infrequent happening on the Clyde.
“One of the lessons learned in this war,” said Fire Force Commander Chadwick, “is that in tackling big oil fires you must get all your resources together and make a concentrated attack. It is simply wasting time to tackle the outbreak piecemeal.”
Other equipment demonstrated included a deluge set which can put a curtain of water between a ship and the quay or between two buildings and a revolving branch, used for fighting fires in the holds of ships which cannot be entered because of fumes, etc.
Each of the fire boats has pumps supplying water to four or more delivery points or to a monitor, which is the fireman’s “25 pounder.” The monitor throws a jet of water of such power that on a calm day it can almost span the Clyde. A rocket apparatus which fires a 150 yard line is also carried.
Two more fire boats are to be added to the fleet in the near future.
(The Glasgow Herald, Monday, January 10, 1944. Page 4)



During the year 1942 an agreement was formulated between the Scottish Home Department and the Clyde Navigation Trustees wherein it was decided that the fire fighting arrangements in relation to the River Clyde and the adjacent dockland under the jurisdiction of the Clyde Navigation Trust should become the responsibility of the Glasgow Fire Service, with the result that a new Marine Division now exists with Headquarters situated at Yorkhill Quay.
This station is continually manned by a complement of two Company Officers, 2 Section Leaders, 4 Leading Firemen, 26 Firemen and 3 Watchroorn Attendants. The majority of the personnel have had experience in His Majesty’s Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy. They are equally divided in two watches and operate on day and night shift alternatively.
There are 2 Fire Boats in commission, both are twin screw vessels of the round bilge type, specially built for work in estuarial waters. They have an overall length of 52 ft., a beam of 13 ft. and a draught of 5 ft. 6 ins, below the waterline. The propelling units are petrol driven, six cylinder Chrysler “Crown” marine type engines. The engines have opposite Rotation and generate 78 horse power at a maximum speed of 2000 revs. per minute and both vessels have a speed of approximately 12 knots. Four Leyland heavy pumping units are mounted in the Pump Room of each vessel and obtain their water from suction inlet boxes fitted with special strainers set the hull of the vessel. These pumping units are each capable of an output of approximately 1,200 gallons of water per minute, a total of 4,800 gallon, approx. 22 tons per minute per vessel.
These fire boats when patrolling the River are in constant touch with Area Fire Headquarters by means of Trans Receiver radio sets and they are also equipped with “Loud Hailer” apparatus; also portable telephones which can be speedily put into operation between the fire boat and shore or between the fire boat and the control point on the vessel on fire. Rocket pistol apparatus which can be used to fire a line ashore is also part of the equipment along with the usual scaling ladders and rope ladders used for getting ashore or boarding a ship. The vessels are equipped with gun monitors, salvage pumps, oxygen breathing apparatus, etc.
These two fire floats, as well as fighting outbreaks of fire, play a very important part by boarding various ships on the River from time to time with a view to formulating fire prevention arrangements on board such vessels, especially where the cargoes are of a highly combustible or dangerous nature. I am very pleased to record that I receive the fullest co-operation and assistance from the various members of the Clyde Navigation Trust, and would like to take this opportunity of specially thanking the General Manager and the Harbour Master for the kind co-operation, consideration and facilities they have placed at our disposal in this connection.
(Firemasters Annual Report Year Ending 31st May, 1949. Page 23.)


Two Fireboats, known as Estuarial type craft and powered by twin 6 cylinder Chrysler engines developing 70/75 h.p. at 2,000 revolutions and giving approximate speed of 10 knots. Each boat is 52 feet long with a 13 foot beam, and a loaded draught of 4 feet. In the Pump Room each boat is fitted with four 700/900 gallons per minute pumps set in pairs. The two forward pumps are fitted with connections for Salvage work, in the event of being required to pump water from partially submerged craft. There is also a 10 cwt Ford van on the Station, carrying a portable Scammel and ancillary equipment for Salvage work. A mobile Deluge Set forms another item of equipment. Fireboats are fitted with equipment and apparatus for fire-fighting in Ships, Docks, and as required in co-operation with land appliances.
By Exchange telephone switchboard to Fire Force Control and private lines between Marine, Partick and West Fire Stations. Both Fireboats are equipped with two-way radio.
(Firemasters Annual Report 1st June, 1949 to 31st December, 1950. Page 32.


Appliances and Personnel
Unfortunately during the year it became necessary to scrap one of the existing two fire boats due to the fact that dry rot, coupled with wet rot, had penetrated to the main timbers and hull leaving us with no alternative but to withdraw the vessel from service. Subsequently, after a thorough examination had been carried out, it was decided that the fire boat be broken up and the timbers destroyed. We are now left with only one fire boat and this incidentally meant a re-arrangement of the Fire Service personnel on duty. The complement of Officers and men now on duty in the Marine Division is as follows:-
1 Company Officer
2 Section Leaders
2 Leading Firemen
14 Firemen
2 Watchroom Attendants
The remaining authorised personnel have meantime been absorbed in various city land stations pending a decision being reached in relation to a new fire boat being provided to take the place of the former fire boat No. 518. In my opinion the acquisition of a second fire boat is absolutely imperative if the efficiency of the River Service, from a fire extinction and fire prevention point of view, is to be maintained. The matter is one which is at present being considered by the Glasgow fire Authority.
(Report of the Firemaster, City of Glasgow. 1951. Page 32.)


Prior to the year 1942 the Clyde Navigation Trustees maintained their own Fire Service, but at that particular period, after negotiations between the Clyde Navigation Trustees and the Scottish Home Department (due to the fact that the Glasgow Fire Service was at that period under the jurisdiction of the National Fire Service), it was agreed that the National Fire Service would take over all Firemen, Appliances, etc., as belonging to the then Clyde Trust Fire Service and that same would be merged within the ambit of the National Fire Service.
On the re-transfer of the National Fire Service to the control of the Glasgow Corporation Fire Authority, this previous arrangement was continued, with the result that the Glasgow Fire Service is responsible for firefighting arrangements in relation to the River Clyde and the adjacent dockland under the jurisdiction of the Clyde Navigation Trust with Headquarters situated at Yorkhill Quay.
(From The Report of the Firemaster of the City of Glasgow 1958)



The Marine detachment of the Glasgow Fire Service is responsible for the fire fighting arrangements in relation to the River Clyde and the adjacent dockland under the jurisdiction of the Clyde Navigation Trust with Headquarters situated at Yorkhill Quay. The authorised strength of the Division is :-
2 Station Officers
2 Sub Officers
2 Leading Firemen
18 Firemen
3 Watchroom Attendants


The majority of the personnel have had sea-going experience in the Royal Navy or Merchant Service. Specialised training on fireboats, use of equipment and drill applicable to Marine work is given at Station level.

Area Covered

The fireground covered by this Station includes all the Docks, Basins and Shipyards within Glasgow Harbour and within the City Boundary, and takes in an area within a quarter mile distance of the north and south banks of the River Clyde. Principal purpose of attendance at landward fires is for feeding land appliances sited on the fire-ground with copious supplies of water.

Fire Risks

The Glasgow Harbour is a heavy fire risk and the risk increases with the loading and unloading of cargo, according to type. In addition is the heavy industrial risk on either bank of the river. Among the outstanding risks are Riverside Mills, S.C.W.S., Shieldhall, the Soyameal Factory and Timber Yards at Shieldhall and Princes Dock, the Meadow-side Granary, Merklands Lairages, Sick Children’s Hospital, Kelvin Hall and Bonded Warehouses.

Fire Calls

The fireboat is called to all fires in the Harbour Area and is included in pre-determined attendances in the land Dock districts. In the period 1st January, 1959, to 31st December, 1959, the fireboat responded to

101 calls as follows :—

                January                                                  11
                February                                                10
                March                                                    6
                April                                                       9
                May                                                        7
                June                                                        4
                July                                                         7
                August                                                  14
                September                                             10
                October                                                  7
                November                                              11
                December                                              5
                Total                                                       101

Ships Involved

                S.S. “Mangla “                                                      7.1.59
                M.V. Bulimba (New Construction)                    12.3.59
                MV. “ Irish Hawthorne”                                      14.4.59
                H.M.S. Blake”                                                       19.4.59
                MV. “Egidia”                                                        29.8.59
                S.S. “Clan McAuley                                            21.11.59
                S.S. “Kumba”                                                        23.11.59
                S.S. “Perthshire”                                                  28.11.59
                M.V. “Deerpool”                                                  13.12.59



A Red Letter Day was recorded in the history of the Glasgow Fire Service on Thursday, 21st May, 1959, when the most modern and best equipped fire boat in Britain, the twin-screw vessel St. Mungo, was launched on the Clyde by Mrs. Myer Galpern, wife of the Lord Provost of Glasgow. The St. Mungo which cost approximately £80,000, was the first vessel to be named by the Lady Provost.

Mrs. Galpern had a happy debut, although the boat surprised her by starting to move towards the water a few seconds ahead of schedule. Curtailing the dedication, Mrs. Galpern completed the ceremony before the St. Mungo entered the river in bright sunshine at the Renfrew yard of the builders, Hugh McLean & Sons. Two members of Glasgow Fire Brigade’s pipe band played “Over the Sea to Skye” as the launching took place.

The Lady Provost, wearing a navy blue dress with a matching coat and a blue-and-white hat, went aboard afterwards with Mr. Galpern to inspect the boat, a 68-foot long vessel, with a mass of equipment which will make it the finest fire-fighting unit of its kind in the country.

The pumping machinery will draw water from the river at the rate of 32 tons a minute, and use it in powerful jets from six “monitor guns.”

To deal with oil fires there are foam generators, with an output capacity of 350 gallons a minute. The boat is equipped with suction apparatus for marine salvage work and the electrical gear includes two searchlights on the deck superstructure. She will have a service speed of nine knots.

In the wheel house, apart from the normal steering equipment, there is a V.H.F. radio trans-receiver to keep the vessel in constant touch with fire-service headquarters, a receiver for B.B.C. weather reports, and a sounding device to give the helmsman the depth of water.

A tribute to the new fire boat and the service which will operate her was paid by the Lord Provost at a luncheon in Glasgow City Chambers after the launching ceremony.

“We are leading the whole of Britain by the launching of the St. Mungo said Mr. Galpern. He thought the occasion provided an appropriate opportunity to say a few words about the great service rendered to Glasgow by its Fire Service.

“I do not think anyone will dispute that of all branches of municipal service none deserves greater credit or more encouragement than our firemen,” he said. “We are all well aware of the distress and suffering that can result from an outbreak of fire and it is on the resources of the fire brigade that the security of life and property to a large extent depends.”

I think I can fairly say that whenever the services of our firemen have been requisitioned they have fulfilled their arduous duties most efficiently and fully justified the confidence placed in them.”

Mrs. Galpern, who was congratulated on the graceful handling of her first launching, described the moment as unforgettable. Saying that the St. Mungo embodied all the qualities which had given Clyde shipbuilding its magnificent reputation, she expressed the earnest hope that it would have every success on its “mission of mercy.”

Mrs. Galpern was presented with two mementoes of the occasion. The first was a gold watch, handed over by Mr. Edward McGarry, a director of Hugh McLean & Sons, on behalf of the builders. Mr. Martin Chadwick, Glasgow’s firemaster, presented the other, a model fire bell, as a token of appreciation from himself and the men of his force.

Technical details of the Twin Screw Fire Boat St. Mungo built for the Glasgow Fire Authority by Messrs. Hugh McLean and Sons, Renfrew, and engined by Messrs. Gleniffer Engines Ltd., Glasgow, are as follows :-
The vessel was designed by Messrs. G. L, Watson & Co., Naval Architects, Glasgow, in conjunction with the Firemaster, Mr. Martin Chadwick, and was built under their supervision. Messrs. McArthur, Morison & Co., Glasgow, acted as Engineering Consultants.


                                                Length—Overall ...              ...             ...             ...             68 feet
                                                Breadth—Moulded ...         ...             ...             ...             18 feet
                                                Depth—Moulded ...            ...             ...             ...             8 feet 6 inches

The vessel has a steel hull and is fitted with 6 in. rubber belting right round the hull, which enables her to go alongside other vessels without sustaining damage or creating any friction which may produce sparks.

The main propelling machinery for the vessel consists of two 160 B.H.P., 8-cylinder diesel engines, with a maximum running speed of 900 revolutions per minute, the cylinders being of a 6 in. bore with a 7 in. stroke, supplied by Messrs. Gleniffer Engines Ltd., Glasgow.

Standard reverse and reduction gearing is provided, the controls of which are in the Engine Room, orders being transmitted by telegraph from the Wheel-house.

The vessel will have a service speed of 9 knots.

The main pumping machinery is supplied by Messrs. Merryweather & Sons Ltd., Greenwich High Road, London, and consists of two— 3,000 gallon per minute—4 stage turbine pumps, driven by Ruston Paxman diesel engines, each of 12 cylinders and developing 400 B.H.P. at 1,000 revolutions per minute.

The control point for operating the pumping machinery is normally in the Engine Room, but a secondary control position has been installed on the monitor fire-fighting deck, immediately aft of the Wheel-house.

The vessel is fitted with a salvage suction, the deck head fitting being installed immediately above the pumping machinery on the port side with three independent supply lines, valve-controlled, to which 6 in. flexible suctions can be fitted for marine salvage purposes.

The auxiliary machinery, which comprises of a 27 Horse-Power “Lister-Blackstone” diesel engine, driving a 4 kilowatt generator, is also coupled to a general service fire pump, which will supply water for Foam Generators for oil fire-fighting purposes at an output capacity of 350 gallons per minute.

The electrical equipment on the vessel is up to marine standard, 24 volts supply, and, in addition to supplying power and light for the whole of the vessel, provides electric current for operating two searchlights situated on the deck super-structure. All of the batteries on this vessel are of the nickel-iron (N.I.F.E.) type.

The vessel is installed with six hand-gear operated fire-fighting monitors, two being on the foredeck immediately in front of the Wheelhouse, and four on the firefighting platform immediately aft of the Wheelhouse.

Fire-fighting hose connections arc also provided by means of four 5-way delivery heads, situated on the port and starboard sides of the vessel, fore and aft.

The normal fire-fighting equipment, which includes Terylene fire hose, is accommodated in a special compartment forward of the Wheelhouse, such accommodation also providing storage for oxygen breathing apparatus and oxygen resuscitating apparatus.

Accommodated in the Deck-houses in the after end of the vessel, are the Foam fire-fighting Generators, together with a supply of Pyrene Foam Compound specially stored in accessible compartments under the after deckhead. Under these Deck-houses are the two fuel tanks for all the diesel machinery with a capacity of 500 gallons in each tank.

The ropes and lines on the vessel are all of Terylene, and a certain amount of salvage suction can be carried on the deck immediately below the firefighting platform.

In the Wheelhouse, besides the normal steering gear and Engine Room Telegraph pedestal, is a Pye-Telecomrnunications V.H.F. Radio trans-receiver, which keeps the vessel in constant touch with Fire Service Headquarters, a B.B.C. Receiver, in order to receive the Weather Reports, and an “ Ecko “sounding device, which enables the Helmsman to read off the depth of water beneath the keel.

On the bottom of the vessel, on both port and starboard sides, are the main intakes for the water supply to the pumping machinery, and these intakes are so constructed as to enable them to be flushed out with high pressure jets from inside of the strums, in order to prevent mud or other debris choking the grills.

The vessel carries a collapsible mast, which enables her to pass beneath bridges, and has a loud speaking hailer, which enables instructions to be given to the shore while the vessel is moving down river.

She is also provided with a ship-to-shore telephone and has an internal telephone between the Wheel-house and the Engine Room.

Crew accommodation is provided below the Wheelhouse.

There is no doubt whatever that this efficient fire boat will play a very big part in the economic life of the City of Glasgow in minimising the fire dangers which exist among the many ships entering and leaving the River Clyde, and also the imminent fire risks which prevail within the precincts of dockland, and I would like to take this opportunity of expressing my thanks and appreciation for the very fine co-operation in this connection which we received from the General Manager and members of the Clyde Navigation Trustees.
(From The Report of the Firemaster of the City of Glasgow 1959)


St. Mungo

Whatever happened to the St. Mungo?

Built by Hugh McLean and Sons, Renfrew, it replaced a wartime fire boat on the 21st May 1959. On being withdrawn from service during the early part of Strathclyde Fire Brigade, she was bought by Offshore Workboats Limited who berthed her on the south side of the river at Clyde Place Quay for a number of years.
The purchase of the St. Mungo did not prove to be a viable proposition for this firm, although it is rumoured that they did salvage some valuable metal from her.
In 1979 she was sold to S. & G. Underwater Services, Granton, Firth of Forth. Joint owner and skipper, Mr. Simpson sailed her from her berth on the Clyde to the Firth of Forth, leaving on Sunday at 1230 and arriving at Granton the following Saturday at 1830 hours.
His six day voyage took him from the Clyde to Campbeltown, where he refuelled and then to Islay, from there on to Corpach at the start of the Caledonian Canal through to Inverness and down the east coast to Granton.
This sail was not without problems as Mr. Simpson said, he arrived at Granton 6 days and a thousand break downs later. The most memorable being while steering the boat by use of the screws because the rudder was too slow to respond. At a fork in the canal where the River Ness meets, he used the starboard engine to move the boat to port. As he had over-steered, he went to use the port engine to correct the manoeuvre, to discover it had failed causing the boat to continue to move to port,
resulting in her being grounded up a gravel bank at the edge of a road, much to the amusement of the locals and picture taking tourists.
Mr. Simpson was successful in repairing the engine, and after a series of manoeuvres he managed to release the boat and continue with his journey.
Over a period of two years he refitted the boat himself. All the firefighting equipment was removed, which included the 2 Paxman
pumps rated at 400 h.p., the Lister engine which was coupled to an auxiliary pump and generator, all of which fed 2 monitors forward, with 2.1/2” nozzles, capable of producing 1,500 g.p.m., at 100 p.s.i., and 4 other monitors which were on the raised deck behind the wheelhouse, along with 2 banks of 6 outlets either side of the boat, forward port and midships starboard. Also removed was the raised deck, the on deck storage aft and the funnel.
Mr. Simpson had then to install 7 water tight compartments, to comply with the Department of Trade Certificate, which had not been required while the vessel was on the Clyde. He created a hold where the pumps were and fitted a 35 ton fresh water tank, with part of the engine
room being converted to provide accommodation for 12 passengers.
The boat is still named St. Mungo and powered by its original 2 Gleniffer diesel engines rated at 160 h.p. and capable of 9 knots. She is now used as a workboat, tender and diving support boat.
Mr. Simpson has been approached by a large shipping company who operate a fleet named after Scottish saints, to buy the name St. Mungo. He has no intention of selling the name which is displayed on the bow and stern of the former fireboat, that proudly shares the name of the Patron Saint of the City she served.

Charlie McGrattan
Station Officer
Station A.4 (North West)

(Aye Ready, Winter 1989, Issue Eight. Page 13.)

The fire boat was kept at the river near to the pump house and there were two wooden huts there, one as a dormitory and one as canteen/recreation room. The other building which was a stone building was used as the Watchroom.



MAIN INDEX                         1975 INDEX                         STRATHCLYDE INDEX