Robert Young

 

Robert Young

 

Robert Young or 'Bob Young', one of my Grandfathers, was born in Cloughey Co Down in 1896. His father Hugh Young and Ellen McCappin moved to Troon shortly after his birth and he came as a 'babe in arms'. At this stage he was the fourth child of what was to be 10  children. The family moved into the legendary 'Harbour Row', 19 Harbour Road.

His fathers trade was a Sailmaker and he came to work at the Shipyard in Troon. Troon at this time had strong links with North East Ireland particularly Co Down. Sailmaking was rapidly on the decline and he became a labourer.

By 1912, aged 16, Bob turned to the sea for employment where many of the family had worked in Cloughey and Portavogie and also in Troon. he joined the paddle Tug 'Troon' owned by the Glasgow and South Western Railway and employed towing ships into Troon.

In 1914 'Bob' joined the Royal Navy and was to serve throughout the First World War. Based at 'Portland', as part of Portland Minesweepers. Initial training was at HMS Victory,  he served on HMS St. Cuthbert a  hired converted Trawler 311/15  1x12 pounder gun. He may also have served on HMS Research (Ex Investigator) renamed 5/11/1887. Paddle Survey vessel 520 Tons 155x24ft. 1x6 pounder, Chatham Dockyard, 4/12/1888. Sold 29/7/1920 to Ward at New Holland.

During the War he acted as a gunner on the Minesweeper and patrolled around the British Coast. He even once came into Troon for repairs. One of the highlights of the War years was the salvage of a ship the S.S. Neils for which the crew received a 'Navy prize' a special payment.

 

Bob had two particular friends one in Portavogie, Danny Kyles, and Malcolm from the North of Scotland who served with him in the Royal Navy.

After the War, Bob served in the Merchant navy and made passages to Italy. Whilst this was good fun for a young man, marriage and a young family meant looking at other more local opportunities. This came in the way of his sister Jane Young and her husband Alexander Baillie. Alexander Baillie was a shrewd businessman who also was from Co Down. They already had a flourishing Ships chandlers business at Troon harbour. With the money Bob left the Royal Navy with they started operating 'puffers'. These were small steam driven coastal vessels which served the islands of Scotland and Northern Ireland particularly with coal and are particularly associated with the west of Scotland.

Bob had learned a number of skills and his navigational knowledge was used to pass on to others. Soon his other brothers were working in the business. There were several boats and  Bob worked on most of them. There were many tales and exploits. One mishap occurred on particular note

In a book 'OFF SCOTLAND' - A comprehensive record of marine and aviation losses in Scottish Waters by Ian G Whittacker ISBN 0-9531977-0-0, the following is recorded.

Name                Position              Nationality Type Dimensions Date of loss Comment Cargo

ELIM (ex Gael), 5526.25 0505.00, TROON SS 1897 85G 8/5/1932 Stranded at Cleats Point Arran, Cpt Young

ShipName : GAEL
ShipType : Lighter
ShipBuilt : 1897
ShipBuilder : J & J Hay Kirkintilloch
Owner : J & J Hay

Fortunately the Elim was refloated. After its sale to new owners the Hafton was not so fortunate.

There were a number of family disputes and Bob, being independently minded left. Subsequently the untimely death of Alexander Baillie led to Jane Young slowly disposing of the business. After leaving he went to work at the West of Scotland Shipbreaking Company at Troon. Again he was to be followed by some of his brothers. He became a crane man and retired in the early 1960's. The Shipbreaking was a steady job but not particularly well paid. However from time to time bargains were to be had from the ships. He lost the top of one of his fingers when it got caught in the Crane gear. It is alleged that he lost his hair prematurely when Sam his youngest son ran a clockwork toy through it and it had to be cut to get it out.

He married Mary Jane Palmer who also came from Co Down, on the 21 July 1920 at186 Argyle Street, Glasgow. At time of marriage lived he lived at 11 Bank Terrace, Troon. Initially they lived at 10 Harbour Row, Troon. The family got a house at 6 Wood Road known locally as 'Coney Island' but moved to a bigger one at No 16 subsequently. After the war  they moved to a new development at Muirhead  'Beverley Hills' in Central Avenue but the Road layout was changed into what was become 7 Afton Gardens. 

After retiring he had a small job for a while on deck chair hire at the beach. He was always interested in ships. He liked his garden and although not 'sporty' loved Putting at the shore, was always difficult to beat. The Wrestling on a Saturday was compulsory watching. He was a regular attendee at the Seaman's Mission in Troon. He would read a chapter of the Bible every night and claimed it  would read take a year to read it then stat again. I was always impressed how he could real off the books of the bible in the correct order in seconds. Another knack was the ability to collect those useless sort of things that kids love. So when you would visit he would have a years worth of the 'Broon's' and 'Our Wullie' or a set of cards from the PG Tips packet or Typhoo Tea.

Bob suffered some heart attacks and eventually died aged 75 in 1971. He was buried in the family grave in Troon Cemetery.