There was an end and a beginning in Clyde ferry history on 30 June with the final vehicle-carrying services between Gourock and Dunoon coinciding with the start of Argyll Ferries’ passenger-only link under a six-year £10.6 million contract which was awarded by the Scottish Government.

The route’s first car ferry was the newly-built Arran in 1954 and it was fitting that the last sailings were made by Saturn (1978/899gt), one of the series of replacements for Arran and side-loading sisters Bute and Cowal. Saturn joined 1974-built ‘Streaker’ sisters Juno and Jupiter, which were designed to load using a stern ramp at Gourock and side doors at Dunoon.

The Dunoon service, with longer hours of operation and better train connections at Gourock, is now in the hands of the 244-passenger Argyll Flyer, bought from Irish owners, while Argyll Ferries have also purchased catamaran Ali Cat, used on a charter through Red Funnel since 2002.

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