A PROUD son has told how his father helped build Port Glasgow’s iconic Comet replica and sailed on board the vessel during its maiden voyage.

John Brown, 74, says his dad Robert ‘Tanner’ Brown would have been heartbroken if he’d lived to see what became of the historic landmark, which was removed from Port Glasgow last year after being condemned due to its deteriorating condition.

Robert played a major part in manufacturing the engine for the Comet replica, which was built in 1962 to mark the 150th anniversary of the paddle steamer’s inaugural sailing.

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The replica - an exact copy of Henry Bell's 1812 original - was seen as a symbol of the area's maritime heritage.

Greenock Telegraph: Proud son tells of father's role in building Port Glasgow's iconic Comet replica.

The father-of-three had a career at Greenock’s John G Kincaid which lasted over 50 years and was in his early 50s when he took on the task of building an engine for the vessel.

Robert and his fellow yard workers had no drawings of the engine to work from and instead had to rely on other means to build it.

John told the Telegraph that constructing the reproduction engine had been a tricky task for his talented father.

He said: “They built it more or less from scratch, there were only one or two old photos they had to go off.

“He was one of the top engineers at the engine works on Arthur Street, so they asked him to work on the project.

“It took them a few months to build it, I was only 13 at the time.

“It was a labour of love and a challenge as well for him and the guys working on it.

“There was a lot of work to get it right so it must’ve been a great feeling once the engine was built and he could see it going.”

Greenock Telegraph:

Robert’s efforts earned him a spot on board the Comet replica during its maiden sailing to Helensburgh and back.

John said his father had been proud of his role working on the ship and had told his children about it on several occasions.

Following its maiden sailing, the Comet was moved to Port Glasgow town centre, which remained its home until it was dismantled and removed early last year following a period of sustained deterioration due to its exposure to the elements.

Inverclyde Council is currently exploring options to replace the Comet and has set up a group to look into the costs of what is being described as 'a full-scale representation'.

John hopes that a solution can be found which will restore the replica to Port Glasgow’s town centre.

Greenock Telegraph: He added: “I’m glad dad wasn’t here to see what happened to it, it’s a sad state of affairs.

“It would break his heart to see what happened to the Comet, it ended up being pulled apart basically.

“I’ve seen the talk about them wanting to put a replica back in.

“First of all, they’ll have to fund it and I think if they can they absolutely should do that.

“It’s about history and tradition, it was the first commercially successfully steamboat in Europe.

“You look across the continent at some of the places and the yards and to think that the Comet was built here is incredible. We need to keep hold of that.

“We need to get something in place, whether it’s built from timber or whatever. As long as it looks like the original and people can come and see it.”