The four vessels are very similar, if the names on the hull are not visible how can each be identified?
The photographs aside may help as will reference to the images in the Gallery section of this site.
The clues to look out for are the last two ferries built have diagonal steps running from the paddle housing to the wheel house. The earlier vessels have vertical steps.
The Sir William Wallace and the Mary Queen of Scots can then be identified as the Wallace is larger, this results in a longer gap between the paddle housing and the ramp.
It is still difficult to separate the
two older vessels however Ian Campbell the son of Duncan Campbell an
Engineer on the ferries came up with the solution.
"On the Bruce the
main access ladder was forward of the bridge, and aft of the bridge on
the Margaret. Even more visible from a distance was the arrangement of
the saloon windows. Margaret had an even spacing of 2 portholes, 2
square windows and 2 portholes. On the Bruce there was a porthole between
the two square windows, and only one porthole on each side for the store
over the rudder."
The Sir William Wallace and the Mary Queen of Scots have diagonal steps but
they are not the same as the photos aside show. The Mary's steps go to
the top of the Bridge while the Wallace's go to floor level of the
Bridge. Many thanks to Stephen Reid skipper of the Robert The Bruce for
There is another way to identify the Sir William Wallace, it is the only vessel in the fleet
with two Lifeboats. The 'nearside' lifeboat on the Wallace is slung from an inboard jib/crane
whereas the equivalent boat on the other vessels is slung from a pair of traditional outboard davits.
The Wallace is the only boat to have a second lifeboat, which oddly enough is slung from traditional davits.
Thanks go to
Alan Murray-Rust who helpfully advised this useful identification