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Books and Videos

We've tracked down quite a few books on Puffers which have proved useful and interesting reading. These are listed below, to help other Puffer fans, you can click many of the images and be taken through. to Amazon where the book is available for sale - much easier than trying to track these down in local bookshops.

The Clyde Puffer by Dan McDonald

This is the book for anyone interested in Puffers. It documents the history of the boats and describes a voyage on one of them. Lavishly illustrated with black & white photographs and even a plan of an early boats suitable for model makers.

Steam Coasters and Short Sea Traders

Covering general costal trade boats from Puffers upward, this books is a real luxury. Quite a tome that is worth the cost due to the beautiful watercolor side views of boats. Very interesting for the more general enthusiast.

BBC "Vital Spark" Videos

Based on the Para Handy stories, these were filmed in the 1907's. Very entertaining as well as interesting for the views of the last days of Glasgow Docks in full swing.

DVD 5 episodes of the 1970's BBC series

Video One - Features 'A Drop O' The Real Stuff', 'Bad Luck Cargo' and 'The Marriage'.

Video Two - Features 'The Quarrel' and 'Highland Voyage' a fifteen minute film made in 1964. 

The Light in the Glens by Len Patterson

A useful book covering the rise and fall of the Puffer trade including operator and cargo details. Well illustrated with both B&W and a couple of colour photos. Front piece has a blueprint of a 1935, open cabin, 66ft Puffer, the SS Skylight.

One Man's River by Len Paterson

Good picture book. There is a chapter on Puffers with some history. The books really covers the shipping of the Clyde from 1920 to 1980 with all the boats and ships that were to be found there. Quality of reproduction of the black & white pictures is first class and the photos themselves are well composed and often full of fascinating detail.

In the wake of the Vital Spark by Stuart Donald

Stuart Donald has researched the background to the Para Handy stories. His book looks into the life of those who sailed Puffers, the areas they lived and worked in. It also includes a list of characters and glossary of terms used in the stories. Fascinating background if you want to know more of the men who lived and worked on the boats.

Colours of the Cut by Edward Paget-Tomlinson

Not specifically about Puffers but it does contain a section on the very earliest type of this boat. Beautifully illustrated with watercolour paintings of working boats.

The Vital Spark: The Illustrated Para Handy

Of course if you really want to know Puffers, you need to read the stories. Very funny even today.

Puffers Puffers by Guthrie Hutton

A nice collection of photographs of Puffers with a useful history.

Clyde Shipping, the twighlight years

Clyde Shipping, The Twightlight Years

I'll confess to not owning this one though it is an excellent book and covers a wider range of shipping than others on this page. There are Puffers but mostly you see other larger boats in the Clyde. Good for archive photographs and industrial atmosphere.

The Maggie

The Maggie

An Ealing Comedy about a Puffer. How can you go wrong with this classic black & white film ?


Railway Modeller Magazine - March 2009

Excellent article by James Pottinger plus a 3mm:1ft waterline plan of a puffer

March 2009 Railway Modeller Magazine
email Philip Parker
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