The loss of the “Vivid”

Monday 8 July will mark the centenary of one of the odder incidents in the history of the Royal Technical College: the sinking of the College’s training ship Vivid off the coast of Oronsay, less than a day into her maiden educational voyage. It’s a topic I’ve been interested in since I came across it in the Strathclyde “Archive Item of the Month” pages in August 2012. For a while I was toying with writing a post or two about it, but as this hasn’t happened a good second-best seems to be to direct your attention to an account of the episode on a different site.

The Loss of the Vivid is a rather unwieldy article which contains altogether too many footnotes, but to the best of my knowledge it’s the best, because the only, account available of an incident that ties together a surprising number of themes in early twentieth-century Glasgow. The Vivid scheme started as what we’d now call a “legacy” project from the Comet centenary celebrations, became a rather financially precarious component of the College’s attempts to make itself relevant to local industry, and foundered due to what appears to have been a moment of carelessness in the middle of the night. At the same time, it’s a vivid (npi) illustration of an era when Glasgow and the Clyde could still regard themselves as a world-renowned centre for industry and engineering — and it would be unfair to the ship to draw too many parallels with more recent schemes with a similar academic and financial footing…

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