MV Bute approaching GourockThis website has been created and is maintained by the crew of the MV Bute. Please note that this site is not an official Caledonian MacBrayne web site and has been created to show some of the interesting photographs that we have collected over the years and to give some brief information that our passengers often ask about. We hope that you enjoy our site and please feel free to contact us if you have any interesting information that you would like to share with us.

The story of our ship began on 22nd March 2004, when the contract was signed to build a new ferry for the Upper Clyde Wemyss Bay / Rothesay route. It was signed at the Headquarters of Caledonian MacBrayne at The Ferry Terminal in Gourock, and the order was placed with the Remontowa Shipyard in Gdansk in Poland, at a reputed cost of £8.75m.

This was only the second vessel ever constructed outwith the UK for the Company. The previous one being the Ullapool / Stornoway ferry Suilven which was built in Norway in 1974.

The ship being constructed under Yard No.1333 was launched, sideways, into the River Motlawa on 9th Feb 2005. After completing fitting out, she commenced sea trials on 30th May. She was handed over to her owners, Caledonian MacBrayne, on 22nd June and set sail the following day for her home in Scotland. Her first port of call in Britain, was Portland Harbour in Dorset, where she refuelled on 27th June, and she arrived at Gourock shortly before midnight on 28th.

She carried out berthing trials and crew familiarisation at the two piers she was built to serve --Wemyss Bay and Rothesay-- during the next few days.

On Friday 1st July, while alongside at Rothesay, and with a large number of invited guests on board, our ship was named BUTE by Mrs Marjory Bulloch, wife of the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute. This was a most apt choice of lady to 'do the honours' as both she and her husband are former teachers in Rothesay Academy. He is organist in Trinity Church, where his wife sings in the choir.

At the naming ceremony Bute was Blessed by a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Very Rev James L. Weatherhead. This, too, was a most appropriate choice, for not only is he a former Moderator, but he is a Chaplain to Her Majesty in Scotland, and more significant to Bute residents, he is a former Minister at Trinity Church in Rothesay.

Wemyss Bay Station - Connection for the trains to the ferryBute undertook her Maiden Voyage on 11th July, with the 11.00 sailing from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay. Most appropriately, she took over from the 1978-built Saturn which was the only other vehicle ferry specifically built to serve Rothesay.

Since then, Bute has sailed only on the route for which she was built--The only slight deviation from this has been using Gourock on rare occasions when Wemyss Bay has been closed by stormy weather.

The construction of an end-loading linkspan, to eventually replace the side-loading one, at Rothesay necessitated laying Bute up for almost 10 weeks early in 2007. During this time she spent time at Gourock, James Watt Dock in Greenock, King George V Dock in Glasgow, and Roseneath in the Gare Loch. She also, briefly, visited Sandbank and Fairlie for routine underwater surveys.

Otherwise, Bute has devoted her life to serving the Scottish Island after which she is named, its residents and tourists visiting it. And it is hoped that her life there will surpass even that of the previous car and passenger ferries which served the island so faithfully in the past.

As with all the other Hebridean and Clyde ferries, Bute sports Caledonian MacBrayne across the black part of her hull, and on the upper part of the superstructure, the URL www.calmac.co.uk. Also in the superstructure they have their names spelt in Gaelic - in the case of our ship, Eilean Bhoid (literally 'Isle of Bute').

Like all her fleet mates, Bute is British Registered (Glasgow), has a British crew, and is owned by Scottish Government Ministers.

Both of the piers served by Bute have their origins dating from the 19th century.

Until the advent of the first generation of vehicle-carrying ferries in 1954, cars were driven on and off the passenger steamers by means of wooden planks when the tides were suitable.

The first Ro/Ro ferry on the Rothesay route was Cowal on 1st Oct 1954. This system allowed vehicles to drive on/drive off at all states of the tide by means of a mechanically operated hoist platform which took about 5 cars at a time, down to a 'garage' below the passenger deck.

In 1977 this mode of loading/unloading vehicles was replaced by linkspans at both Wemyss Bay and Rothesay. Glen Sannox was the first vessel to use both of them. Actually this was the last Clyde ferry route to be modernised.

Wemyss Bay was of the standard end-loading style, but at Rothesay it was a side-loading one. However in 2007 that was replaced by an end-loading linkspan. Interestingly that was built at the same shipyard in Poland which built our ship. And it was Bute, herself, which had the honour of being the first to use it. That was on her last arrival of the day on 17th December that year.

Rothesay pier used to have a famous and attractive clock tower which is sadly long gone, but the modern terminal is one suitable for the 21st century. Originally owned by a Harbour Trust, Rothesay pier is now owned by Argyll and Bute Council.

Wemyss Bay still has a most imposing clock tower.The pier was originally Railway owned but it is now owned by Caledonian Maritime Assets, although the adjoining station buildings are still under Railway ownership.There is a covered walkway for pedestrian passengers through the station and down to the pier and to the ship's gangway. This walkway which, along with the station itself, is famous for its glass and steel curves (it is a listed building) remains as a reminder of many years ago, when at busy times, hundreds of people arrived by train to catch the paddle and turbine steamers for Rothesay (and in these days, also for Millport).

Both piers have very modern gangway structures ( incorporating lifts for mobility disabled passengers). While, by no means could these be classed as attractive, they are exceedingly functional and what is expected in this modern age.

While it is obvious that vehicles arrive at, and depart from, our two piers, Bute and her identical (2 years newer), sister ship Argyle are exceedingly well connected with other public transport.

At Wemyss Bay there are train services every hour from Glasgow, and in addition, there is a bus service linking us with the city every 15 minutes. From Ayrshire, there is a bus every 15 minutes from Largs, and also a frequent bus service from Ayr and other towns.

Although Bute was ordered by, and for, Caledonian MacBrayne, the owning Group was restructured in October 2006. Consequently Caledonian MacBrayne was renamed Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), and became owners of all the vessels in the fleet. The ships are now leased to, and operated by, CalMac Ferries Ltd (CMF). Both Companies are wholly owned by Scottish Ministers. Caledonian MacBrayne and CalMac are trading names of CalMac Ferries Ltd.