Book Synopsis

Based on real people and events, this is  gripping factual account of the repercussions of the milestone launch of the world’s first 4-masted iron merchant ship in 1875. The phenomenal success of this large square-rigged sailing ship, named County of Peebles, prompted R&J Craig of Glasgow to launch a further eleven fabulous jute clippers. Initially they traded between Cardiff, East India and Dundee, and were referred to as the Scottish East India Line. R&J Craig’s bold decision to build sailing vessels, during the ascendancy of steam power, created an unanticipated demand for 4-masted iron and later steel windjammers. these flourished at the peak of the ‘sailing ship era’, and continued for 50 years longer than predicted. One of these, the County of Roxburgh, was perhaps the fastest merchant wind-ship ever created. The careers of each of the twelve renowned 4-masters are revealed in detail for the first time in one publication. Remarkably the dilapidated hulls of the County of Peebles (Magellan Straits, Chile) & County of Roxburgh (stranded mid Pacific) still survive. New and previously unseen material on the people and vessels of R&J Craig is unveiled for the first time.

Briefly introducing the first 13 ships, the book gives vivid descriptions of R&J Craig’s 12 large jute clippers, in separate chapters, from previously unpublished records. Some of the most faithful reproductions of original photographs, of the era, are incorporated throughout. Such images have survived in private records and maritime archives scattered around the world.

In view of the importance of this period of Scottish maritime history, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has most graciously added a foreword.