Dundee Advertiser Monday 17th May 1897 – SCENES AT DUNOON PIER.
The steamer Victoria made her second Sunday trip down the Clyde yesterday, in expectations of a repetition of exciting scenes at Dunoon pier an enormous crowd waited her arrival. The rumour that a number of Socialists, headed by Graham Hunter, the boss Union smasher, intended landing at Dunoon and forcing their way into the town, if necessary, had raised the excitement to fever heat, and on Saturday the all-absorbing topic of conversation throughout the burgh was the expected riot of the following day. The authorities appeared to have been alarmed at the situation, for a number of country police were drafted into the town, and the Chief Constable arrived from Lochgilphead on Saturday in order to take charge of the police arrangements. The day was an ideal one for sailing, the water as calm as a mill pond, and the sun shone brightly overhead. The crowd began to gather shortly after eleven, and by half-past twelve, at which hour the churches came out, the Esplanade the Argyle Hotel to the Castle Rocks was covered with people. The points of vantage in the Castle Gardens and the Castle Hill were all occupied, and along the east bay groups of interested spectators could be seen. The crowd must have been larger than that of the previous Sunday. It was about half-past twelve when the Victoria was seen coming out from Gourock Point, and her passage across the channel was watched with intense interest by the immense concourse of spectators. The boat kept in mid channel most of the distance, and it appeared that she intended passing the pier without calling, but doubt was soon dispelled, she swept suddenly round and prepared to come alongside bow on the northern side. On seeing this the crowd made for the pier entrance with rush, and soon the road was entirely blocked. The Chief Constable stood outside the gate ready to receive any one who might force an entrance through, and other members of the force took up positions on the new breast walls if to prevent access to the town these outlets. Meantime the boat had come alongside, which was an easy matter owing to the tide being high and on the ebb. Some damage, however, was done the paddle-box in coming in contact with the pier; her timbers could be heard cracking, and several feet of moulding were torn from the wing. Before allowing the passengers to land Mr Reid, the manager of the Company, was seen addressing the passengers from the bridge, who received his remarks with cheers that were heard by the people on shore. The ship’s gangway was then put out, and the first passenger to land was Mr Graham Hunter, who, followed by about 50 others, walked along the gangway to the gates. THE EXCITEMENT ON SHORE became intense. The crowd surged round the entrance, some climbed on the barricades of the new pier works, and others got to the roof the pier buildings in order to see what scene was being enacted behind the pier gates. Meanwhile the passengers, composed of respectably dressed people, had marched up the gangway, knocked at the inner gate, and asked for it to be opened. Of course there was no response, the pier master had received his usual instructions not to open the pier. After a little waiting, Mr Graham Hunter, who acted as spokesman for the crowd, addressed the Superintendent of Police, who was guarding the exit along the new breast wall, to the effect that the passengers made a formal protest against being shut out of the town. They claimed their rights to land. They formally asked permission to so, and tendered their pennies payment of pier toll. They intended raising question of damages, and the responsibility now rested with the Commissioners. The names of the 53 passengers would be sent in due course to the authorities. The company then returned the steamer that had waited at the pier, and the sail to Rothesay was resumed. Apart from a little cheering near the pier entrance, there was no demonstration by the crowd. The return visit was sooner than expected, the boat arriving a little before six, and the crowd in consequence was not so great. As soon as the gangway was got out about a hundred passengers, principally young fellows, came ashore, and made their way up the pier. Mr Graham Hunter expounded his views on the situation to the police and a few others within hearing. Meantime about a dozen youths scaled the pier railing and walked along the breast wall, only to be confronted by another barricade with a policeman behind it. An attempt was made to overcome this two-fold obstacle, and the venturesome youths, after bantering the crowd, scrambled back on the pier. One of the party, however, slid down the breast wall and escaped into the town. Repeated signals from the boat failed to get the passengers aboard again, and it was only after a delay about 20 minutes that the boat officials by means of considerable persuasion managed to get all off the pier, when the steamer immediately proceeded Glasgow.
Edinburgh Evening News – Wednesday 21 July 1897 – THE DUNOON PIER SQUABBLE.
Dunoon Commissioners met in private last night, when the principal business was the present situation in connection with the Sunday steamer and the new by-laws. The meeting lasted two hours, and was of a very disturbed nature, strong language being indulged in all round, especially between Provost Cooper and Commissioner Crosbie, who have always been at variance on the Sunday steamer question. After a heated discussion, the Board unanimously resented the action of the Sunday steamer Company in breaking faith calling at the pier when the directors and managers had personally undertaken not do so until the decision of the Board of Trade had arrived. The members considered would be inconsistent on their part to depart from the line of action they had taken up, and it was agreed to take no steps whatever in the matter until the Board of Trade had given its decision. The Town-Clerk was instructed to write the Parliamentary agents for the borough, Messrs Beveridge & Co., for the purpose of ascertaining if the Board of Trade had arrived at decision, as it was commonly reported in Glasgow and elsewhere that the finding was against the Commissioners. In the event of word coming from the Board of Trade, the Commissioners agreed to meet again on Friday night further discuss the situation. Fading that, matters would remain as they are.
Edinburgh Evening News – Monday 26 July 1897 – THE DUNOON PIER SCENES. BARRICADES AGAIN SMASHED.
The Sunday steamer Victoria left Broomielaw, Glasgow, yesterday morning at half past 10, her departure being watched by large crowds. The crowd which watched the steamers departure from Glasgow was thin indeed compared the enormous crowd which greeted her approach to Dunoon. The number of people who collected was probably not under 12,000. As the Victoria came close the pier hearty cheers raised from those on shore. The directors of the company were anxious to avoid anything of an unseemly nature, and though determined put their case to the test, were desirous of approaching the authorities with proper decorum. It was, therefore, arranged that only three passengers should land, that they request an entrance from the pier, and on refusal, to lodge formal protest. This plan was carried out, and had matters ended there there would have been little to complain about. But, unfortunately, there was a repetition of the scenes with which Dunoon has become familiar of late. The three gentlemen to whom was delegated the task of lodging a formal protest are Mr Austin, Hubner, and Angeletti, who all travelled from Glasgow. Encouraging cheers were raised as they marched up to the pier gates to interview the superintendent of police. It was very brief interview. The first of the trio demanded admission as Englishman, the second claimed admission a Scotsman, and the third a foreigner. The official courteously pointed out that the gate was locked, and he had not the keys. Upon having made their protest the three passengers returned to the steamer. Other passengers were landed on shore by means of a steam launch. Things promised to pass off quietly.
OUTBREAK OF DISORDER.
But hardly had these gentlemen returned to the steamer than crowd came rushing from the old pier, lined the landing stage, and shouted encouragement to those on board. Demands that a gangway should be put out were made, and ultimately this point was yielded. The crowd on the pier, which was largely composed of youths, was considerably swollen by the passengers who had landed from the steamer. An impetuous rush was now made for the old pier; and, amid intense excitement, barriers were scaled and an inlet to the town forced. The police—there were ten of them in attendance—made no effort to interfere. The steamer then proceeded on her passage to Rothesay. She returned to Dunoon half-past six, her approach being again watched by dense crowds. The scenes this time were even more exciting, and the attitude of at least a section the crowd was more threatening. Those who had got off the steamer on the former occasion made a rush on to the old pier climbing the barriers. A large number again left the steamer and joined the excited crowd at the gates. The method of entering by climbing the barriers seemed too tame for a large number the people, and a vigorous attack was made on the gates, which were smashed. Then the multitude swarmed into the pier. It was exciting moment, and once or twice there seemed promise of a conflict between the populace and the police. This was happily, avoided. Some of the wilder spirits among the crowd seemed to court such a conflict, but the officers behaved with admirable temper. Matters soon quietened down, and as the steamer left the pier on her homeward journey loud cheers were raised.
Dundee Courier – Monday 02 August 1897 – CLYDE SUNDAY SAILING. A NEW MOVE.
Quite a change took place in the proceedings connected with Sunday sailing on the Clyde yesterday. A large crowd had gathered along the Dunoon Esplanade and Castle Hill in anticipation of something happening. It had been rumoured during the week that the steamer was leaving the district, and it was reported further that about 700 passengers were to land on the pier and force the gates. The local authorities had been approached during the week by the management of the steamer Company, who indicated that there would be no disturbance if the pier gates were opened until the case was settled a. law. The local authorities, however, would not meet with the management, and the consequence was that no one knew what was likely to happen. In order to prevent a riot, all the constables in the Cowal district were gathered into Dunoon in the morning. The broken gates had been mended and the barricades repaired. The boat was an hour late, but the crowd waited on. Instead of proceeding to Dunoon, however, she made, straight for Kirn, which is about one mile from Dunoon Pier, and there landed about sixty passengers by means of her own small boats, after which she steamed slowly past Dunoon Pier without calling, the whistle blowing and the crowd cheering at a great rate. In anticipation of what was to happen at night about 5000 people walked to Kirn, and the Victoria, once again ignoring Dunoon, slowed up at Kirn and took aboard her passengers. The whole proceedings were carried on in a most orderly manner, not the slightest attempt at anything like a disturbance. The Chief Constable of the county was present, but there was no need for any police supervision. The coup was unexpected, and the sequel is awaited with interest.
Dundee Courier – Wednesday 04 August 1897 – DUNOON PIER SQUABBLE.
Dunoon Commissioners met privately Monday night, when the Piers Committee’s recommendation to take civil action against the Sunday steamer for contravening the byelaw by landing passengers Dunoon Pier on Sundays was rejected by majority of two votes. The situation, therefore, remains unchanged. The local authorities expect the police to arrest, for malicious mischief anyone breaking through the pier, and, on the other hand, the police authorities maintain that the action should be a civil one. It is considered probable that police protection will now be withdrawn.
Dundee Evening Telegraph – Monday 16 August 1897 – EXCITING SCENE AT DUNOON PIER. YOUNG MAN’S PLUCKY RESCUE.
The large crowd of people who assembled Dunoon Pier yesterday afternoon in a perfect downpour rain to watch the arrival of the Sunday steamer witnessed a plucky rescue of a lad who fell over the into the water. The new portion of the esplanade to the north side of the pier, part which has been railed, was lined with spectators, a number also standing unprotected part the breast wall close to the head the old gangway. James Smith, aged 12 years, who resides Cinny Cottage, Clyde Street, was among the latter, and just while every one was endeavouring get a glimpse of the small boats engaged in landing passengers from the Victoria near Kirn Pier he slipped over into the water. As the tide was very high at the time there was nothing for the lad lo catch hold of, so he struck out manfully in an attempt to swim to the slipway, some 50 yards off, but he soon began to show signs of distress, and cried out for help. In an instant a young man named James Gilchrist, a clerk, belonging to Partick, was over the rail, and, divesting himself of his jacket, plunged in, and, swimming towards the lad, held him up until a small boat arrived. Smith was pretty much exhausted when lifted into the; boat, and although he had a narrow escape with his life the crowd could not help bursting into a fit laughter when the lad, after coming round, commenced to roar because his father would give him a bating when he, got home. Gilchrist’s plucky rescue was loudly cheered by the spectators.
Leicester Chronicle – Saturday 28 August 1897 – SUNDAY SAILINGS ON THE CLYDE. AN ALARMING INCIDENT.
An exciting scene was witnessed in the Firth of Clyde off Dunoon, on Sunday afternoon, during an attempt to land passengers by means of ferry-boats from the steamer Victoria, popularly known as the “Sunday breaker.” When the vessel began its Sunday trips, passengers were landed at Dunoon pier in violation of the bye-laws passed by the Local commissioners, but this custom was some time ago departed from on account of the opposition, and the fact that the subject of violation of the regulations was practically sub judice. Since then large ferry- boats have been utilised to convey passengers from the steamer to the shore and vice versa. On Sunday one of the boats having come alongside several passengers made a rush to get on board, with the result that the boat capsized and ten persons were thrown into the water. A strong breeze was blowing at the time, which rendered the work of rescue a matter of great difficulty, and, as the vessel was drifting rapadily, one of considerable risk. Ultimately all were rescued, but the occurrence filled the other passengers with dread. They absolutely refused to enter the other boats, and clamoured to be landed at Dunoon Pier. This was done, and in presence of several thousand spectators and a detachment of police they clambered over the barricades and entered the town
Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser – Saturday 28 August 1897 – SUNDAY SAILING ON THE CLYDE. BOAT UPSET WHILE LANDING PASSENGERS.
The proceedings at Dunoon in connection with the landing of passengers from the Sunday steamer, which have formerly been regarded as a source of amusement to visitors, last Sunday, assumed an exceedingly grave character, and what seemed little short of a miracle averted what might have been a grim tragedy in the presence of about four thousand spectators who lined the Esplanade and the Castle Rill. The steamer Victoria proceeded as usual to land her passengers by means of ferry boats at Sinclair’s boating station, but owing to a strong westerly breeze which was blowing the task was attended with considerable difficulty, the steamer being carried so far out into the firth by the strong current whenever her engines were stopped that the distance to be traversed by the boats was in some cases nearly a quarter of a mile. Two journeys were completed without mishap, but while one of the ferry boats was preparing to start the third journey it capsized, and the occupants, numbering either nine or ten, were thrown into the water. The accident occurred a good distance out from the shore, and as the ferry boat at the time was taking on passengers on the lee side of the Victoria, and both were drifting rapidly out, only a few of the spectators were aware that such a thing had happened until it was seen that lifebelts were being thrown into the water, while an ordinary small boat was also observed being hurriedly lowered in the direction of the steamer. There was great commotion on board–women screaming, and passengers rushing wildly to tide. The majority of those in the water, however, showed a good deal of coolness, and were rescued without much difficulty. In one instance, however, loss of life was very narrowly averted, all efforts made to get one young man out being unsuccessful for a time. It was only with the greatest difficulty that he had could be kept above water, but do what they could they felled repeatedly to lift him up. After an elapse of about ten minutes it was discovered that his vest was caught in one of the rowlocks of the boat, which was then upturned, and the only way to free him was to right the boat. This was done, and the young man was lifted on board in an almost unconscious state. Restoratives were applied, and he gradually came round, although he was suffering from severe nervous shock. After all those who were seen struggling in the water were rescued, a rumour got afloat that some one was missing, but this proved to be unfounded, although one of the immersed is reported to have said there may have been another in the water for all he knew. The accident was caused by the passengers rushing too rapidly into the boat, which caused it to tip under the sponse, and it almost unaccountable how some of the occupants were not drawn under by the suction of the steamer, as she was drifting at such a rate.
After this alarming affair, the rest of the passengers wishing to land at Dunoon, point blank refused to go into the ferry-boats, in spite of the appeals made to them by the steamboat officials. One gentlemen told them he would not take £5O and land in a ferry-boat, and amid all this protestation and a demand was made that they should be landed at the pier, the cry being, “ Storm the pier.” The management of the steamer had no alternative than to obey the demand, and the Victoria came alongside the quay the people on shore made a rush for the entrance gate, which was guarded by four policemen. After some delay, the mooring ropes were made secure and a gangway thrown to the pier, amid cheering by the and spectators, and about fifty passengers were landed, including several ladies. The first dozen or so to reach the gate scrambled over the top of the pay-box and dropped down on the Esplanade in front of the policemen, who did not interfere with them, each passenger being cheered as he appeared on the top of the temporary structure. The next batch to come did not see the fun of doing any climbing in the matter, and as a barrow happened to be lying handy, this was seized by an indignant youth, who hurled it with tremendous force against one of the gates, which, however, withstood the ramming. Three irate passengers withdrew the one-wheeled rammer for the second attack, and with a combined rush burst the gate open, smashing the wheel off the barrow. The three men then gave their names and addresses to the police, and marched off, followed by the rest of the passengers. The gate which had been forced open was fastened up again after the crowd dispersed, and it was fully expected that the scene would be repeated when the steamer called in the evening. It seems the passengers were informed on landing that they would be lifted at Kira, but they did not feel inclined to face the ordeal of embarking in ferry-boats. But they made their way to Dunoon Pier again as the steamer returned, and gaining admittance by climbing the rail, they went on board the Victoria quietly, without creating any disturbance whatever. The police, in order to keep down any rowdyism, kindly advised the passengers to go on to the pier by rail, Instead of bursting open the gate—an act which the spectators did not fall to appreciate. Altogether over a hundred passengers were landed, while a number of English tourists embarked and went to Rothesay, others refusing to go after the ferry-boat capsized.