BY 1889 Alex Campbell's ship based at Bristol - the Waverley - had established itself as one of the finest passenger ships plying on the channel.

Fast at around 18 knots, with superb cuisine 'better than most hotels - but much more reasonable prices', and comfort, had made Captain Alex's mind up that the family firm's future was not in Scotland but on the Severn Sea!

Plans were already afoot for a new White Funnel steamer to be built to join the Waverley and so reunite the Campbell brothers, Peter and Alexander.

But in 1889 Edwards and Robertson made the first move, with their answer the 'fine new, fast etc' Lady Gwendoline.

Built by J.McArthur & Co at Paisley, her length was 210 feet, her speed was supposed to be fast, but due in no small measure to poor handling of the boilers, there soon began a chapter of mishaps which ended in litigation which the steamer firm lost.

Amazingly this brand new steamer - the showpiece of the Edwards and Robertson fleet - was an absolute flop, with breakdowns and accidents littering her short career with the firm.

It proved an expensive episode and was something of a watershed in the fortune of the firm.

She was disposed of after just two seasons, to a firm in Hamburg who renamed her Ariadne. She didn't last too long there either and was next found at Cherbourg in 1896. She finally disappeared from Lloyd's Register in 1924.

Edwards and Robertson were determined to repair this loss - and they did - with a superb passenger vessel, the Famous Lorna Doone.

But as a mainstay they first acquired the old Clyde vessel Bonnie Doon.

* Next time: The Bonnie Doon