The Ballachulish turntable ferry film is taking me to many varied places, mostly across Scotland in search of what has happened to them, but yesterday it led me to across the border to Liverpool.
It was also an opportunity to explore the city a little, as I needed to capture establishing shots for the sequence. As seems to have happened on every shoot day for the film, I stepped out of Liverpool Line Street railway station into glorious sunshine, Immediately I am faced with beautiful architecture directly opposite of St George's Hall, reminiscent in structure as some buildings in my home city of Edinburgh.
I was also struck by the friendly and helpful nature of everyone I met. On numerous occasions I stopped various people to ask for directions and everyone was very patient and helpful. At one point down on the waterfront of the River Mersey, a man with half bottle of wine in a brown bag staggered over to me and asked, ever so politely, if I minded if he sat nearby and had a drink.
I wandered around shooting various iconic things of Liverpool, such as a row of Liverpool Footbal Club scarves, and buildings, such as the Royal Liver Building. There are three buildings side by side; the Port of Liverpool Building, the Cunard Building and the Royal Liver Building, known collectively as the Three Graces. These are not that old, built at the start of the 20th century between 1903 and 1916.
As I was pondering what to film next to represent Liverpool in the film, I spotted a crowd of people gathered around a collection of four bronze statues. Curiosity took over, in case it was something worthy of being in the film. Remember, I want to find things that will say Liverpool, in the film. As I got nearer to the bronze figures I had a bit of a Doh! moment.
They were of John, Ringo, Paul and George, otherwise known as the Beatles!
The main reason I had made the three and a half hour journey was to visit the offices of GL Watson and Co, the original designers of the last seven Ballachulish ferries. Hidden away in their archive were the original drawings and paperwork relating to each ferry. One in particular was of interest, the Glen Duror, as I have been trying for some time to establish if the beached wreck at Gairlochy, north of Fort William, is in fact her. Early afternoon yesterday, as I stood in that hot office in Liverpool, staring down at her original drawing, I had my answer: the wreck at Gairlochy is NOT the Glen Duror of Ballachulish.
GL Watson was founded in 1873 by George Lennox Watson, the first yacht design company in the world, in George Square in Glasgow. Up until this moment I had often wondered why the Ballachulish ferries had been designed by a company way down in Liverpool, but now I understood, that at the time they were still based in Glasgow.
They designed what is regarded to this day as the most successful racing yacht of all time in the America's Cup, that of Brittania. Now they have one of the worlds finest archives of drawings with ongoing conservation and reproduction work, and they are heavily involved in the restoration of old vessels.
Satisfied that I had the material I came for I bid farewell and headed for home, but not before popping my head into the Cavern a reproduction of where the Beatles first made their mark.