September 28, 2007

A birthday fit for a Queen

This on

"THE BEACON of Clydebank’s shipbuilding heritage, the QE2, paid her penultimate visit to the Clyde last week to celebrate her 40th birthday in home waters.

Thousands of delighted spectators gathered on the banks of the river at Greenock’s Esplanade to pay homage to the world’s most famous ship built at John Brown’s.

Despite disappointing weather, visitors travelled from across Scotland and beyond to mark the return of Cunard’s most successful vessel to Clydeside.

To mark the occasion, around 300 former shipyard workers, special guests, and dignitaries were invited on board the QE2 for a special tour, meal and champagne reception.

They were treated to a rapturous and colourful display by the Red Arrows who proudly flew above the ship in a spectacular performance.

At precisely 2.28pm the liner sounded its horn to mark the 40th year to the second since she was launched by Her Majesty the Queen in Clydebank.

Clydebank Provost Denis Agnew told the Post he was proud to be invited on board and represent the birthplace of the QE2.

Councillor Agnew worked in John Brown’s as a store boy when the Cunard liner was being built and he said it was a poignant moment for him being able to celebrate its birthday.
He said: “I had never been inside it before and it has had two refits since then so I don’t know if there is much original work there.

“This is the last real boat built that was launched on the Clyde. It was a pity it couldn’t be brought up to Clydebank.

“To be in such a significant and magnificent boat was a real honour.

“It is the best of Scottish engineering built in Clydebank and that makes me very proud.”
Former John Brown’s worker Bill Kean also caught a glimpse of the QE2 of which he was an integral part of the construction team.

He travelled to Greenock along with his son, but despite not being invited on board, he was privileged to be able see her after 40 years.

Mr Kean said: “We got very near the ship and we managed to take some photographs.
“There were thousands of people who had never been on the boat lining the shores, it was terrific.

“I have never really seen her since she left John Brown’s and my last picture of her is the ship going down the Clyde.

“It was a great day.”

Clyde Taylor from Clydebank, who also visited the ship says he was disappointed that the ship was slightly obscured in the dock.

He said he was glad to see the vessel and even passed his “ship lines” on to a friend who was going on board.

Mr Taylor told the Post: “We got there at 6.30am but they had put the ship in such a place that we couldn’t get any photographs.

“But it was still impressive to see her.”

The QE2 will return to Greenock next year when she celebrates her farewell voyage.

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