Glenlee, a three-masted barque, was launched from the Bay Yard Port Glasgow on the 3rd of December 1896 for the first owners Archibald Sterling & Co. It took just another ten days to complete fitting out before the ship sailed in ballast to Liverpool. Here Glenlee loaded with general cargo and sailed via Cape Horn to Portland, Oregon on the NW coast of America. So began 23 years under the 'Red Duster' (Red Ensign).
Glenlee had been built by the yard in order to keep the various trades employed and the first owner was a relative of the builder, Anderson Rodger. As soon as practicable Glenlee was sold to Robert Ferguson, a ship owner in Dundee, and renamed Islamount. It was under this name that the vessel traded for 20 years.
In 1919, Islamount completed the final voyage at Cette (now Sète) in France. Here the ship was sold to Italian owners and renamed Clarastella. The first engines and a generator were fitted at this time. Very little is known regarding this period of Italian ownership.
In 1922 the ship was sold to the Royal Spanish Navy for use as a sail training vessel. The vessel was renamed Galatea and performed this role for over 47 years. For almost all of this time the home port was Ferrol in the north of Spain.
Galatea was laid up in 1959, at first in Ferrol. Galatea was moved to Seville for the impending Seville Expo but did not participate and was in a fairly desperate condition when recognised by the Clyde Maritime Trust in 1992 as a Clydebuilt vessel. The ship was close to being sold, probably for scrap.
Galatea was saved from the breaker's yard and returned to the Clyde. Re-registered in Glasgow once more under her original name of Glenlee, the ship was restored by the Clyde Maritime Trust.
This Clydebuilt vessel is now a museum ship celebrating Glasgow's mercantile, maritime and shipbuilding traditions. Glenlee is the only steel square-rigged cargo vessel remaining in the whole of the UK, and one of just five such Clyde built vessels remaining in the world.
Today, Glenlee once again floats on the Clyde, the river of her launch, at a specially designated berth alongside the Zaha Hadid designed, Riverside Museum.
After over a century of adventures (see History), Glenlee stands as a prime example and testament to Clyde Shipbuilding, the Scottish maritime tradition and Glasgow's mercantile success. Owned and run by the Tall Ship Glenlee Trust the aim is, with your support to keep the ship free to enter.
The restoration on board will show you how Life at Sea used to be in those days of sail. There you will find information on the shipyards of the Clyde, exhibitions (What's On), and of course our popular cafe. You can walk the decks once again and imagine the passages through storm and sunshine during the ship's life at sea.
This information is a very brief outline of a fascinating history of a square rigged ship. If it has captured your interest, there is much more information available in the books to be found in the shop or in other publications of interest listed on the bibliography page.