William Gibb

An article that appeared in the Scotsman on 16th October 1933

A model of a clipper built ship six feet by three feet was hung in the Parish of Church of Tulliallan yesterday. The model used to hang in the Sailor’s Loft in the old church, but when the new church was built a hundred years ago there was no Sailors’ Loft and the ship was taken by its owners, the Sailors’ Box Society, to the Commercial Hotel which they used as a club. Since then it has been housed in the lumber room. Through the offices of Colonel Mitchell it has now been re-rigged and hung behind the pulpit.

Two days later a letter appeared in the same newspaper asserting that the ship was NOT the one which hung for many years above the Sailors’ Loft in the former church but one which had been made by Captain William Gibb, a native of Kincardine, which he named the Wm Gibb after his Grandfather. A reply to this letter, published a few days later, asserted that 1one of the oldest inhabitants of Kincardine had to attend quarterly at a room in the Commercial Hotel to receive  the handsome sum of  1/- from a military gentleman from Stirling Castle. The boy’s father had been lost at sea and he was entitled to this Government Insurance money. He saw then, 75 years ago, the ship that hung in the Sailors’ Loft hanging in the hotel. That boy and William Gibb grew up together and my old friend remembers that it was the talk of the town when Gibb took it in hand to re-rig the model. It was not then stated that he was trying his ‘prentice hand at making a full sized model if my friend’s memory is to be trusted, but several other old inhabitants corroborate him independently’. The writer goes on to say that the former letter does not account for the old model and asks, “Did Gibb destroy it – or use part of it to make a new one?” In answer to this challenge the writer of the first letter made these points:

  • that William Gibb made the model, which had been hung in Tulliallan Church on 15th October, during a space of calm weather at sea:
  • that it remained in his parents’ house for some time but proved to be too cumbersome for the limited accommodation of their room:
  • that it was given into the custody of the Shipowners’ and the shipmasters’ Society for safe keeping and was hung in the large room of the Commercial Hotel.

He adds that the model in the Sailors’ Loft was probably that of a schooner or sloop of 60-120 tons which were the only type of ships belonging to the town at that time and that the style of the Wm Gibb proclaims her period – a clipper of the same style as the Cutty Sark. The evidence contained in the three letters indicates that the ship which was removed from the Sailors’ Loft was to be seen in the Commercial Hotel as late as 1858: that William Gibb undertook to re-rig it and that the ship ‘Wm Gibb’ which he made when he was an apprentice at sea, was placed in the Commercial Hotel’s large room and is the one which is now in Tulliallan Church. One wonders what happened to the original? Did Gibb find the task of re-rigging it impossible? Was it accidently destroyed? Or was it removed when the ‘Wm Gibb’ was hung in the large room of the Commercial Hotel? We ask the questions. The answer eludes us. But nothing can alter the fact that it was through the kindness of Colonel Alexander Mitchel that the ship was acquired for the church or the appropriateness of the gift, made in the centenary year of the opening of the church, as a perpetual reminder of what had been the principal industry of Kincardine during the time of its greatest prosperity.