I really enjoyed the Saltcoats Harbour Open Day yesterday despite the blustery weather.
I was really interested to see inside the old Custom’s House and to meet the Harbour Committee and hear all about the Committee’s creative plans to regenerate the harbour which would be a real benefit to the town. They deserve all the support that we can give them to help them realise their vision.
And it was a real treat to ‘meet’ Saltcoats's very own Captain Elizabeth (Betsy) Miller.
She lived from 11 June 1792 to 12 May 1864.
Her father, Captain William Miller was a successful Saltcoats timber merchant and a sea captain. Betsy was the oldest of eight children and employed in the family shipping business as an office assistant, helping look after the records and accounts. The seagoing side of the business was meant to go to her brother Hugh. However, he drowned in an accident at Ardrossan Harbour so Betsy, now in her 30s, took command of the family's brig, Clytus, and its 14 man crew.
For more than three decades she sailed between Ayrshire and Ireland in all weathers and was the first woman sea captain certificated by the Board of Trade. Her fame spread far and wide.
Known locally as "the Queen of Saltcoats", Betsy continued to sail until she was 70 and then handed over command of the Clytus to her youngest sister, Hannah, and retired. She died two years later.