The Late Mr Homer Campbell, Liverpool.
Kirkcudbrightshire Advertiser February 18th 1921.
Interesting Kirkcudbright Reminiscences.
Our obituary column of last issue contained an announcement of the death of Mr Homer Campbell, who passed away at Liverpool on the 5th inst., at the advanced aged of 83. His demise calls to memory many interesting reminiscences of the shipbuilding trade in Kirkcudbright – an industry which has long vanished.
Mr Campbell was the last survivor of the Kirkcudbright ship and boat builders. He was the fourth son of Mr Homer Campbell of Messrs Homer and James Campbell, shipbuilders, and served his apprenticeship with the firm, who were the builders of vessels well known in their day. At that time another shipbuilder in the town was Mr M’Ewan, whose premises were on the site adjoining Gas Lane, and better known as the Old Sawpit, and were built about the year 1820 for sawing wood for shipbuilding purposes. There was a drawing loft on the top over the sawpit, and the premises were also furnished with a furnace for steaming the planks so as to allow of bending. Mr M’Ewan was followed by Messrs Jenkinson & Peel, who built a number of vessels.
The yard of Messrs Campbell was on the Moat Brae, and they launched a good few vessels of smaller dimensions than in the other yard, one of the best known being the schooner “Lynch.” Mr Campbell was at the building and launch of the last vessel which left the stocks of the Moat Brae. This was the launch of the “Lizzie and Kate.” According to custom there was a general holiday in the town on account of the launch, which coincided with the celebration of the centenary of the birth of the National Poet in 1859. There were no fewer than five balls in the “Whisky Jean” of the poet that night, one of them, more immediately connected with the launch, being held in Messrs Williamson’s store in Castlebank, near the Moat Brae. Afterwards the firm build the last Kirkcudbright ferry boat, a model of which is in the Stewartry Museum.
Another well known vessels on the building of which Mr Campbell was engaged was the “Countess of Selkirk,” which belonged to the port of Kirkcudbright for many years. She was built at Garlieston, and now lies a wreck in Ross Bay. Her last cargo was one of lime, and in a gale she sprang a leak on the way to her home port. The water, coming in contact with the lime, set the vessel on fire and she had to be beached. Another experience of the firm was a memorable storm, when fifteen vessels were driven ashore in the vicinity of Mutehill, Messrs Campbell being entrusted with the duty of getting them off and repairing them. The firm was latterly known as Campbell and Stitt.
When quite a young man Mr Campbell left Kirkcudbright and followed the sea before retiring on shore, and was resident for many years in Liverpool as a ship carpenter. Mrs Mackenzie, Castlebank, widow of William Mackenzie, ship carpenter, is the last survivor of the Campbell family, members of which had been long settled in Cumberland before migrating to Kirkcudbright.