VIC 27 was built in 1943 by Isaac Pimblott & Sons, Northwich, on the river Weaver in Cheshire. During WWII, the yard is reported to have built twenty-one VICs for the Ministry of War Transport in two variants – 66 foot and 80 foot. In one year, the yard is known to have produced 8 boats – that is one approximately every six weeks!
The Liverpool register for 1943 shows the VIC 27 on the 25th of August as No. 20 with an official number of 168863 under the ownership of the Ministry of War Transport (MOWT).
Although some historical articles about VIC 27 suggest that she worked in the Liverpool area for a time, we now know she left Liverpool very soon after being commissioned and headed for the West Coast of Scotland (Source: Log of VIC 27 held in National Archive at Kew – see copy here). She spent about a month in Liverpool, probably getting crew and making ready for her war transport work, and then she sailed to Greenock via Lamlash.
After the war she was transferred to the Admiralty on 10th March (at 1.30 p.m. to be precise!). This was under the Act of Transfer of Functions dated 30th March 1946. The registry of the vessel was then closed on the 10th March 1947 – “vessel taken over by Admiralty”.
In 1966 she was purchased by Ardrossan Dockyard Co. who sold her on to Glenburn Shipping of Glasgow.
In 1968 she was lying at Ardrossan, still simply called VIC 27, when she was purchased by the Edinburgh philanthropist, Sir James Miller, and converted at Granton for the carriage of 20 passengers and used as a youth training vessel out of Oban. In 1969, following the completion of the vessel’s conversion, Miller had her renamed AULD REEKIE. To view an article about the boat’s conversion to youth training vessel, click here.
In March 1979, she was sold to Bathgate Brothers (Marine) Ltd of Edinburgh with a view to her being used for charter. During the period of their ownership, she was used by the BBC for the filming of the 1994 TV series The Tales of Para Handy featuring Gregor Fisher. (see The Para Handy Story) The name Vital Spark (Glasgow) was painted on her bow and stern, although she was never formally renamed. The vessel was also an attraction at the Glasgow Garden Festival on the Clyde in 1988. Apart from these brief moments of fame, Auld Reekie lay in Crinan Basin all in all for about 30 years.
In September 2007 she passed into the ownership of Archie McArthur at Inveraray pier. He planned to rename her Maggie but never did so, and sold her a year later, still officially named Áuld Reekie. It was at this point that her restoration began at Crinan Boatyard and the Auld Reekie is now under the ownership of the Boatyard.
Map showing key locations in the VIC 27 story