Queensferry Crossing

Caravan Park,  Pettycur Bay, near Kinghorn, Fife  -  Late 1940s

 Holiday Caravan near Kinghorn, Fife.  Bob Gournay, now living in Biggar, Lanarkshire, spent holidays here in the late 1940s.

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland



Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay who remembers sailing on the Queensferry ferry in the late 1940s for weekends spent at his caravan near Kinghorn, Fife

Bryan wrote:


Weekends in Fife

"I was first on the Queensferry crossing, about five years old, in the late 1940s, when we went across regularly to my family’s ‘caravan’ at Pettycur Bay near Kinghorn.

It was nothing like the huge site and posh caravans that are there now. Ours was in tiny field, just off the road, near where the entrance to the caravan park is today."

Converted 1920s Bus

"I say ‘caravan’, because that’s what we called it. In truth it was a dilapidated 1920s, single-decker bus that a joiner friend of my dad hastily converted into living quarters – a couple of rooms with raised platforms for mattresses and little else.

The separate driver’s cabin was converted into an indoor loo, containing a large galvanized bucket type of thing with a wooden seat, that would be instantly condemned as a highly dangerous health risk to the entire Fife coastline nowadays."

Singer Sports Car

"The picture shows our minus five star ‘caravan’ behind the car, with another old bus waiting in the wings for a similar top-quality conversion. Our car was a pre-war Singer Sports (a posh Hillman), which had been up on bricks in a lock-up in St Leonards for five or six years during the War, as petrol for private use was difficult to come by."

Family Outings

"On most Saturday lunchtimes, between Easter and September, we would set off from Edinburgh for the ferry. Somehow, we shoe-horned ourselves into the car. Me, my mother and father, two aunties, my granny – and sometimes my great granny - a bit like a Broons’ family outing."

Boarding the Ferry

"As there was little ground clearance left, we all (except grannies) had to get out of the car and walk on to the ferry – which saved bottoming the car as it went from the ramp on to the deck. Boarding or disembarking could be a bit tricky depending on how high or low the ferry was sitting in the water, or how much it was being pitched about by the swell."

The Crossing

"While the adults got back in the car for the crossing, my dad and I would go up on the front, upper deck. There was always a great feeling of anticipation when the ropes were thrown onto the boat, the paddle wheels started turning, and we edged away from the pier and off, wind and spray in our hair, out to sea.

One of the high spots was a train crossing the rail bridge, with smoke belching from its stack, passengers waving out the windows and throwing coins out for luck. While some of the pennies, ha’pennies and farthings hit bits of the bridge and fell on to the tracks, some must have reached the waters many feet below. I suppose there’s a few quid in ‘old money’ sitting on the sea-bed on either side of the bridge."

Reaching Fife

"At North Queensferry, we had to reverse the process, walk off the boat and get into the car once it was safely on dry land. We didn’t get very far, as we always stopped in Aberdour for an ice cream slider (wafer) or cone, before making the short trip to the ‘caravan’ near Kinghorn."


"The weekend was spent around Kinghorn, in the harbour, or down on the beach across the road. I can remember my dad taking me a few hundred yards along the road to the spot where, in 1285, King Alexander III of Scotland fell off his horse and over the cliff to his death."

The Last Ferry Home

"On Sunday evening, we all piled into the car for the return journey home to Edinburgh. For some reason, we always seemed to be going for the last ferry, which my dad didn’t want to miss as this meant the long trip round by the Kincardine bridge.

Sometimes, even if we got to North Queensferry on time, there would be too many cars waiting in the queue, and we’d have to head for Kincardine anyway."


"The return ferry journey routine was the same, we walked on and off the ferry as my dad (with grannies) drove the car. Back at Queensferry, the heavily-loaded car always struggled very hard to get up the steep brae from the Hawes Inn.

The Ferry

Brian later sent me this photograph taken on one of  the journeys that his family made between South Queensferry and  Kinghorn.

Crossing from Sqout Queensferry in the 1940s   -  Forth Rail Bridge in the background ©

Please click on the small image above to enlarge it, and to read Bryan's comments on it.

Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland,  April 19, 2007


Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland,  June 13, 2006




Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland


My Dad's Lorry

"For several years, I used to go on the ferry in my dad’s lorry. Lorries were much smaller then and the ferry could take at least a couple at a time. The lorry was a six ton Bedford, very often overloaded, with its load roped extra tightly so it could handle the embarking, disembarking and pitching of the boat."

Loading the Ferry

"The ferrymen loading the ferry would get the lorries to wait until they had loaded cars to the left and right of the entrance, leaving a space in the middle for lorries.

Everything was done at a brisk pace, with lots of hand signals and loud instructions from the good-humoured ferrymen, so the ferry wasn’t delayed."

 Queen Margaret and Robert the Bruce

   The Forth Rail Bridge and the ferry boat,Queen Margaret, on the Queensferry Passage at South Queensferry ©

"I remember the ferries (Queen Margaret and Robert the Bruce) had a wooden, sleeper-type deck with a large turntable in the middle.

Cars would drive on to the turntable when instructed to do so, and be turned left or right through 90 degrees, so they could fit closely together facing forward or aft.

If you wanted to get out the car, you had to do so quickly as the one parked next to yours would often be too close for you to open the doors."

Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland,  June 13, 2006




Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland


The Last Ferries

"I was last on the Queensferry crossing two or three months before they were cast aside in 1964.

It was a sad day when the Queensferry ferries were replaced by the road bridge – and equally sad that no-one thought to preserve one of these well-loved boats.


Thank you, also to Graham Ferguson for sending me this photo of one of the ferries at South Queensferry in the early 1960s.'

A ferry  -  probably 'Mary Queen of Scots'  -   at South Queensferry ©


Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland,  June 13, 2006




Michael McRitchie

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Michael wrote

Queensferry Crossing

"My great-grandmother, Ann Elizabeth Gawn of Granton (1842-1907) married John McRitchie in 1862.  The McRitchies were ferrymen and innkeepers in North Queensferry for centuries. The ferry crossing was described as slow, difficult and dangerous, faithfully reflecting the family traits.

Parish records show that Alexander McRitchie married Helen Walwood in 1687 though I can't link them to my own line beyond 1716 when gt-gt-gt-gt-gt grandparents David McRitchie and Janet Douglas were married.  The last McRitchie in North Queensferry, Alex the piermaster, died in 1914.


"Do you know where I might  be able to find any old pictures of the ferry crossing, especially sail vessels? We know the family owned some as we have the will of John McRitchie (d.1823) which describes one sloop in great detail.

 I'm working on a book for the family (nothing fancy, probably A4 or A5 stitch bound) and I have several accounts and booklets relating to the crossing, but the ferry pictures are elusive. 

Any help gratefully received!"

Michael McRitchie, Comber, Northern Ireland:  October 20, 2009


The period that Michael is speaking of is too early for photography, so any pictures that are found are likely to be old engravings, etchings, paintings or sketches.

If you can suggest anywhere that Michael might be able to find such pictures, please email me, then I'll pass your message on to him.

Thank you.    Peter Stubbs:  October 23, 2009




Melville Watson

Thank you to Melville Watson who wrote:

Queensferry Crossing

"I used to live at Craiglockhart.  We used to use the Queensferry Crossing when we went to Blairgowrie.  It was a huge adventure for me, especially in winter time"

Melville Watson:  August 5, 2010


The Queensferry Passage

Granton - Burntisland Ferry

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