In 1851 G.&J. Burns sold their West Highland steamer services to David Hutcheson & Co. One of the conditions of the sale was that Hutcheson take on David MacBrayne, a nephew of the Burns brothers, as a junior partner. When David Hutcheson retired in 1878, David MacBrayne, at the age of sixty-five, took the company over and renamed it, Ever since MacBraynes has been an integral part of life in the West Highland and islands of Scotland, and since 1973 as part of Caledonian MacBrayne. At the heart of this book is a unique collection of glass slides and glass-mounted medium format negatives originally belonged to Captain Alex Rodger. Special attention is given to four steamers, Columba, the premier paddle steamer operating in UK waters, Iona, her predecessor on the Royal Route from Glasgow to Ardrishaig, and which had a remarkably long life of seventy-one years, and the two turbine steamers Saint Columba, which succeeded Columba on the Royal Route, and King George V, which made the Staffa and Iona cruise from Oban her own from 1936 to 1974. The other paddle and screw steamers in the fleet are not ignored, neither are the motor vessels, which were used by MacBrayne from the early 1900s onwards, and the 'wee red boats' which tendered to the larger vessels at ports without a pier, particularly at Staffa and Iona.
Iain Quinn has written numerous books on Clyde paddle steamers, including Turbine Excursion Steamers. Alistair Deayton is a well known author and an acknowledged expert on West Coast steamers. He has written numerous books on the subject including the hugely important Directory of Clyde Paddle Steamers. He lives in Glasgow.