Glasgow business figure gifts ‘substantial sum’ to keep iconic Clyde steamer afloat

John Watson and Queen Mary
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A retired businessman has donated a “substantial sum” towards the restoration of Clyde steamer TS Queen Mary.

John Watson OBE stepped in to the help the project after it was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cancelled tours of the ship which is berthed in Govan have meant a loss of income for the trust behind the ship’s restoration.

Queen Mary
Queen Mary, Glasgow Science Museum.

Hyndland-born John, who sold his international printing business for a reported £15m, provided help through his charitable foundation.

The philanthropist and entrepreneur – who grew up in Falkland Street – said he was delighted to help fund the project.

John said: “The restoration of this magnificent ship will bring huge benefits to the city of Glasgow and the Govan community where it is berthed both in terms of education and heritage.

‘Very generous’

“It is essential that this goal is reached and The Watson Foundation is pleased to be helping to make this happen.”

Iain Sim, Chairman of TS Friends of Queen Mary, said: “John Watson OBE has been a very generous patron of TS Queen Mary since she returned to Glasgow.

“I am delighted that The Watson Foundation has made this substantial gift.

“It is especially important since all of the charity’s capital is committed to delivering the detailed design phase of the restoration project”.

John Watson OBE
John Watson OBE was born in Hyndland.

The public tours ground to a halt at the start of the lockdown – wiping out a vital income stream which helps pay for the ongoing restoration of the renowned vessel.

Crawford Paterson Vice Chairman of TS Friends of Queen Mary said: “The challenge which covid-19 has presented to all charities has been monumental.

“We do not receive any public funding and rely entirely on donations to fund our revenue costs.

“The substantial reduction of that revenue due to the cancellation of our monthly tours would have had a very negative impact on our project, were it not for the quite wonderful generosity of The Watson Foundation.”

John’s family printing company John Watson and Company was based in Port Dundas.


The Watson Foundation has been an ongoing contributor to the restoration work of the ship.

Previous donations have included funding to restore TS Queen Mary’s magnificent teak decks and windows.

The steamer carried tens of thousands of Glaswegians “doon the watter” during its many years of service.

Once completed, it will be permanently berthed at Govan.

HRH The Princess Royal is the Royal Patron of the ship.

* Title image of TS Queen Mary, credit: David Millar.

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