THE CAIRN LINE OF STEAMSHIPS CO. LTD. 1876 – 2005Gilbert T. Wallace

May 2020: Gilbert Wallace has generously decided to make this book freely available at the link at the end of this review. Via the 2 links you can either read the book on-line or download it to read offline. Please respect the author and credit Gilbert should you use any extract for purposes other than private research. Thank you


This book provides a finely detailed history and account of the Cairn Line and represents a remarkable feat for the author who has self published the work. Although Gilbert Wallace only sailed with the Cairn Line for four years in the 1950’s prior to taking up employment ashore, upon retirement he decided to find out what had happened to his old company and the result is a fascinating and detailed record of a line from the golden era of British Shipping which has now, along with nearly all the others, sadly disappeared. Anyone who has attempted any research will appreciate the amount of time and care for presentation that has resulted in this book. In addition to listing all the vessels associated with the Line the book is lavishly illustrated with photographs, line drawings and paintings. The first ship of the Cairn Line of Steamships to carry the Cairn name was the Cairngowan in 1883 and although the company was purchased by the Furness Withy Group in 1967 the name survived and last three ships bearing the Cairn name (Cairnash, Cairnelm and Cairnoak) were sold in the centenary year of 1983. The ship listings in this book are expanded by a comprehensive history which provides detailed descriptions of the ships, routes and cargoes as well as a wealth of interesting supplementary information regarding this Company which was finally placed into Members Voluntary Liquidation on 15th March 2005. A4 soft cover format, 96 pages with 82 b/w photographs, 11 colour photographs and images. ISBN: 0-9550078-0-1.

Price: £15.00 (Postage: £2.00 UK, £3.00 EU, £3.30 Worldwide).

Payment in sterling by UK cheque, postal order or bank draft to:

Gilbert T. Wallace,

3 Milton Gardens,

South Edinburgh.

Scotland. EH15 3PG

Tel/Fax: 0131 669 5878

2 Responses to “THE CAIRN LINE OF STEAMSHIPS CO. LTD. 1876 – 2005”

July 3rd, 2012 at 21:03

You may already be aware, however I published a second book, namely “The Cairn Line of Steamships and Nautical Tales beyond Leith” in 2008. A4 212 pages, with drawings, sketches, & photographs , B/W & some colour.. Price was £25, now £20 including P&P. Includes my 4 years , and careers of 30 mariners from sailing ships to steamships, who all had a connection with the Cairn Line, be it one trip, or more. From 1885 to 1959. There are two pages of additions/amendments to first book. Mob 07929499851. Forward by Captain Paul Wright, Master in Cunard Line.

March 17th, 2018 at 00:06

Cairndhu 1952/56. Have both your books, Most interesting read. I have many photos of cairns ships. A long association with cairns, gramp from 1905 until myself in 1956.


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