Inverbervie’s famous ship designer
Hercules who? Well, indeed! But in his day Hercules Linton was a well-known shipbuilder and famous as the designer of the fastest ship in the world.
Hercules Linton designed and built the famous tea clipper Cutty Sark. She was named after the garment worn by the young witch Nannie in Robert Burns’ poem “Tam o’ Shanter”. You may remember how Nannie pulled the tail from Tam’s grey mare Meg as he fled from the witches.
All of which goes to explain the rather unusual statue at the northern edge of the small coastal town of Inverbervie, Kincardineshire*. Hercules Linton was born and is buried in Inverbervie. And the statue’s a copy of the original figurehead from the Cutty Sark ship.
There Nannie flies, clutching Meg’s tail, in her skimpy “cutty sark” or short shift. (In the poem the sark was from Paisley so it probably wasn’t plain white, but Paisley-pattern would have been harder to paint on a ship.)
Hercules Linton’s greatest ship
Cutty Sark, now a major attraction at Greenwich on London, was launched in 1869. Building her bankrupted Hercules Linton’s company, but she made a fortune for her owners.
The clipper sailed the route between England and Shanghai, carrying tea on the return journey. This was a serious race, with intense rivalry between the clippers. Whichever ship got the tea home first got the best price for her cargo.
Cutty Sark later carried wool from Australia, and was subsequently sold to a Portuguese trader. She then returned to Britain and served as a training ship for naval cadets until 1938. She finally came to rest at Greenwich in 1954, 54 years after the death of her creator.
Other local attractions
A couple of doors away from the memorial is Inverbervie’s other famous landmark, the Bervie Chipper fish-and-chip shop, a great place to sample some of the local produce. You can park in the square opposite the Chipper and take a walk down to the beach while you eat.
A few miles up the road is Arbuthnott, where you’ll find the Lewis Grassic Gibbon Centre.
*The historic county of Kincardineshire is now technically part of Aberdeenshire.
Some of the above came from the plaque on the wall by the statue. The rest is from the Undiscovered Scotland biography of Linton (http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usbiography/l/herculeslinton.html)
and from the Royal Museums Greenwich site (http://www.rmg.co.uk/cuttysark/history-and-collections/history/1922-to-present).
And if you can’t remember the poem, you can read it in full here: http://www.robertburns.org/works/308.shtml.