Glenorchy, the Thames and “more funnel power”…

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By Gordon Frickers 50 x 81 cms (20″ x 32″), Oils, sold.

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The painting

A typical Glen line ship, Glenorchy,  on Thames Reach, London.

The Original painting was commissioned by and sold to a former officer of the Glenorchy, John Wilson,  who wrote on the 12.11.13, Delighted to hear that you are well and remember the Glenorchy……….she was a super ship to sail on……….I am still in touch with the second mate; amazing really after 49 years“.

She was a super ship to paint too.

The atmosphere and colours of the scene are based on the artist’s childhood memories.

The ship is being handled by tugs as she makes her way up river.

The Thames barges under sail and the lighter on moorings were once a common sight, taken for granted, now vanished.

Circa 1954, even the livery of the tugs are exactly correct.

The artist spoke to people in the haulage company, Alexander Towing just before they retired.

Two of the staff remembered the old Empire class tugs, hastily built in large numbers for war time service, many continued to work into the 1970’s, some apperated by Alexander Towing who bought them when Alexander towing purchased business of William Watkins.

The tug in the foreground is Sun XVII, although owned by Alexander Towing she was at that time still in her original William Watkins colours, as shown here.

William Watkins was the first steam tug company to operate on the London River, the river Thames and quick to purchase a fleet of  government surplus Empire class tugs.

The only alteration made to Sun XVII after the war was the fitting of an enlarged funnel.

The old salts referred to that as adding “more funnel power“…

Glen Line originated as the ‘Glen’ name suggests in Scotland. Most of  their ships carried the prefix ‘glen’, a glen being a wooded valley.

Alan C. Gow and James McGregor families started the business in Glasgow during the mid 1850’s as cargo and voyage brokers who shrewdly  grasped the opportunities offer by steam powered ships.

The company rapidly expanded to work world wide and in partnership with several other famous merchant ship companies, Shire Lines, The China Navigation Co., China Mutual S.N. Co, Elder, Dempster Co. Ltd , Alfred Holt & Co the Blue Funnel Line to name but a few.

GLENALMOND (2) built 1950 by Vickers, Armstrong & Co. at Newcastle,  10109 grt, scrapped 1974 was the last Glen ship.

For further reading to better understand the Glen Line we recommend a visit to the web site ‘Red Duster’ & enter ‘Glen Line’.

Contact Gordon Frickers if you would like to own a similar painting to “Glenorchy on the Thames“.

Contact Us

T: + 44 (0)1865 52 2435 

or Skype ‘gordonfrickers’

Email: info at

Gordon Frickers © 31,12,15


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