Oral History Project




How to take part in our Project

We would love to hear any memories of our station and old photos too!)

If you live nearby, we would like to interview you if possible. Otherwise, we will hopefully work out how to record a ZOOM interview with folk who live outside the area!  Until then if you could jot down your memories using this simple format:

  • Your name and contact details (Phone (s) & email)
  • What age are you? (optional)
  • How are you connected to Wemyss Bay, and what period of time was this?


Then tell us the following:

  • Any particular aspect of the station’s history that you remember
  • Any stories relating to the station and the people who worked here
  • Can you remember arriving in Wemyss Bay by train or ferry?
  • What was your first impression?
  • Have you visited the station recently and if so, how much has it changed?

If you have photos we will be happy to scan them and send them safely back by post. Please tell us if so.

Get in Touch


    The Book Shop.
    Wemyss Bay Station,
    Wemyss Bay. PA18 6AR

  • SHOP MOBILE  PHONE 07532 083 778

Normal Shop Opening hours
Monday – Saturday 10 am – 4 pm


Some Memories of Bygone Days

June Campbell, who stays in Edinburgh, had an aunt and uncle who lived in the clock tower flat in the 1950s. Below are two photos of her  grandparents and great aunts who often stayed at the house., photographed on the steps and on the pier.


I travelled through the station from 1945 till 1975. My whole family made summer trips to Rothesay between the late 1800s to the 1960s.  The earliest photo I have  is around 1900 and shows my great grandmother with many of her 12 children, including my grandmother, standing, I believe, on the pier waiting for the steamer.  The distinctive tower and houses can be seen in the background.  The family, including small children, all carry a variety of bags and suitcases, and appear to be very ‘dressed up’, straw hats and all.

The real connection to the station came when my uncle, who worked as a railway guard in the 1950s, got to be a tenant of the tower house, which meant that family could stop off for a cup of tea, or even stay overnight, before making the yearly pilgrimage ‘doon the watter’.

I have several photos of my grandparents and other elderly relatives, from the early 1950s, posing on the steps of the clock tower house.  I remember staying in the house on several occasions as a child of about 8, and the excitement of climbing the tower to watch my uncle attend to the clock.  For me the inside of the house was very spacious and I remember the unusually high ceiling and large windows with net curtains.

Naturally I have clear memories of getting on the train in Glasgow and the thrill of joining a huge queue of people making their way to the boat at Wemyss Bay.  Through a child’s eyes the whole of humanity seemed to be on holiday, and it was very joyful, as the photos on the pier show.  Once we got on the steamer my Dad always took us down to see the engine room, and I know that when he was a boy in the 1920s he had an uncle who was a steamboat captain, and he was allowed to go onto the captain’s deck.

Sadly I have not been in the station for 50 years!  But I have very happy memories of steam trains, of getting grit in my eyes from the thick smoke,  through opening the compartment window, and sticking my head out.  I also recall the steady stream of workers having their well earned Fair holiday, as they snaked their way through the station to the paradise that was the Firth of Clyde!

June Campbell

Station Staff in the early 1930s

Station Staff in the early 1930s. One of our members is the grandson of the station master depicted, who was in charge at Wemyss Bay from the early 1930s until he died shortly before the end of WW2



The Malcolm Campbell shop at the station - Early 20th Century

The Malcolm Campbell shop at the station – Early 20th Century


I have only childhood memories of holidaying ‘Doon the Water’

One week before the holiday, usually the Glasgow Fair, my mother would begin preparing the trunk with holiday clothes. Consequently, for about one week any old clothes could be worn.

I remember disembarking from the ferry – it could be the top, middle or lower decks, depending on the tides.

I remember the slot machines along Rothesay promenade, the queues both in Glasgow and Wemyss Bay stations, having breakfast, lunch (always packet soup) and dinner.
The mystery bus tours from Dunoon were great entertainment, always finished off with a ceilidh in some church hall somewhere.

Doon the Water holidays were simple affairs, often wet and soggy, but the best time of the year.

“Come as You Go” shows were also fun.
Isabel Smith Shop Volunteer

My memories of Wemyss Bay Station and Pier are from the early 1950s when as a young child my parents took me on the steam train from Glasgow to Wemyss Bay to visit my great aunts Miss Elsie and Miss Marjory McKenzie who lived in Montgomerie Drive, Skelmorlie.

As I got older my cousins and I would visit on our own, walking up Station Road to meet our great aunts with whom we stayed for a few days in the school holidays. From their bungalow we loved to watch the steamers sail up to the pier through the binoculars and sometimes we would have a picnic on the little beach by the pier.

Such was the impact of those early memories I am now retired and living happily on Shore Road in Skelmorlie!

Elspeth Lindsay Strefford

I am another Friend of Wemyss Bay Station and I saw your article in the Largs and Millport Weekly News about wanting to know the experiences of people who came “DOON THE WATTER FOR THE FAIR” – and I thought I could respond to that.

Although I now live in this neck of the woods – I am originally from Glasgow – and as you know during the Glasgow Fair weeks many people deserted the city to go on Holiday. My family always headed for Rothesay.

I can remember the thousands of people at Central Station waiting for a train to take them off on their holiday – and my mum dad, sister and me were part of that crowd. I always knew it was nearly time to go on holiday when my mum started packing the hamper. All the bed linen and all the clothes that were to be worn on holiday went into the hamper. This happened about a week before your holiday started. The train Company then came and picked up the hamper, took it away and it was delivered to your “digs” before you arrived. This meant that we hardly had anything to wear left. But it was always great to see the hamper going away – because that meant that the holiday was going to happen soon!

I can remember being on the train. And I think the engine that pulled the train was usually the Aberdonian or The Tornado. I remember the noise of the train and the smell of the train – that’s a good memory. I remember once when I had followed my dad when he went the door of the train to have a cigarette – and I popped my head a little bit out of the window to see what was there – and my face got covered in the smoke from the engine – mum was not happy!

I remember being at Wemyss station and asking my mum if we were in a palace! I also remember spinning round and round to look at all the glass in the roof – and I got dizzy and bumped into of the posts – oh boy did I have a black eye!

From the railway station we went on to one of the paddle steamers to make our journey over to Rothesay. I can remember the Waverley, The Duchess of Montrose, the Queen Mary and the Caledonia.

Once in Rothesay the first thing we bought was a pail and spade for when we went to the beach – I always called these a Spale and Pade!

Marion Martin


I saw that you were looking for memories of the station in bygone times and thought you might be interested in the following wee snippet.

My mum Nancy Carnduff (nee Logue) was born and lived in Skelmorlie all her life, passing away a few years ago at the age of 93.
At the age of 16 in 1939 she got a job in the station bookstall / kiosk. She ran down Station Road from Skelmorlie every morning to open up the kiosk, probably at around 6am, for business people arriving to catch the first train.

I remember her telling me that Lord Inverclyde’s groomsman rode his horse into the station every morning to collect newspapers for the castle.

For my own part, my memories of days of steam at the station are the smell of steam and smoke – which was by no means unpleasant – and the incredible noise made by the engines sitting at the platforms. As a child I found the noise quite intimidating.

I also recall the gradual transition from steam trains to diesels. Travelling by steam train was more enjoyable by far!

David Carnduff Inverkip

Early postcard view of the ferry walkway in 1905

Early sepia view of the ferry walkway in 1905

I lived in the Pier house with my parents from about 1967 to 1975 when I got married. As a student I had a Saturday job in the station bookstall with Josie so I can remember a few of the staff including “wee Dick” who did the flowers and Mrs Carson who was the cleaner amongst others. Chris Dench,WestKilbride

Below is a link to our YouTube Channel, with a video of Chris’s Dad winding up the clock., which was originally filmed and shown on STV