During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, there were several shipyards on the River Tay near Perth. These primarily built wooden sailing vessels. However, steamers were also constructed at Perth; the shipyard owned by James Brown built the wooden paddle steamer the Union in 1821. Ship building continued at Perth until the 1890s, although it had begun to decline in the 1850s. There are extensive maritime records concerning many of the ships built at Perth, and property documents regarding some shipyards are preserved in Perth and Kinross Archives (for instance, PE/46/11/Bundle12). Interdisciplinary study of Perth’s shipyards would be desirable.
There was also a lengthy tradition of building smaller, often rowing, vessels for use on the River Tay. For example, the salmon fishing industry encouraged the production of considerable numbers of traditional Tay cobbles (cobles) – small flat-bottomed boats typically used for fishing or as ferries. The small boat building tradition on the Tay has continued into recent times. However, our understanding of how this trade, and the design of the boats built, evolved over the post-medieval period is limited at present. As there have been extensive changes to the use of the River Tay, and to traditional boat building in the area, within living memory, it might be advisable for research into this aspect of the region’s past to be undertaken in the near future. This would enable local community memories to be compared with the study of written records and whatever physical evidence can be uncovered.