IT was a "mammoth task" to capture a world in miniature.

As a centre for shipbuilding, Glasgow is renowned throughout the world with its prestige reflected in the city's internationally significant collection of ship models.

Cared for by Glasgow Museums, there are 676 ship models in the collection from the Clyde's most famous ships, such as the RMS Queen Mary, to river steamers, tea clippers and tugs.

Now they are being showcased in a new book, which took more than a decade to compile: Glasgow Museums: The Ship Models – A History and Complete Illustrated Catalogue.

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Emily Malcolm, the catalogue’s lead author and curator of Glasgow Museums’ ship model collection since 2003, said: "Glasgow Museums internationally important collection of ship models is unparalleled, it provides a historic record of ship-building in the west of Scotland and is a true asset of the city.

"This book beautifully illustrates each and every one of the city’s 676 ship models, ranging from the eighteenth century, through every decade of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries right up to the present day.

"For the first time ever we can show the collection in its splendid entirety.

"Moreover, we can gain a real appreciation of the extent and quality of the ship models and through them understand our strong maritime history, something which is synonymous with the river Clyde the world over."

The book has been launched on the eve of the UK Maritime Heritage Forum, being held at Riverside Museum today and tomorrow.

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Some of the most famous ships launched on the Clyde are represented, such as the RMS Queen Mary and HMS Hood, as well as models of historically significant vessels, including the first European passenger steamer Comet and the world’s first turbine-powered vessel King Edward.

An extensive array of fine amateur models include everything from tiny miniatures made by French prisoners during the Napoleonic Wars to the much-loved Clyde puffer and even a talented example of the familiar ship in a bottle.

Amassed mainly through a uniquely successful relationship between shipbuilders, ship owners and Glasgow Museums over the last 150 years, the models range in size from a few centimetres to over six metres in length and represent ships built on every part of the Clyde.

Models made for and by great Glasgow shipbuilders, smaller specialist shipyards and a wealth of skilled, amateur model makers are on show.

Visitors to Riverside Museum had a rare opportunity to inspect one of the finest models in the collection, a model of HMS Argyll, an armed cruiser launched by Clyde shipyard Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd in 1904.

The large glass case that houses this and several other models was opened to celebrate the launch of Glasgow Museums: The Ship Models – A History and Complete Illustrated Catalogue.

Emily was joined at the launch by Cemal Ozturk, the last professional ship model maker in Glasgow.

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Professor John R Hume, historian and long-time supporter of Glasgow Museums, added: "It was a pleasure to assist Glasgow Museums in their endeavour to catalogue all 676 models in the city’s collection.

"They are to be congratulated most warmly on undertaking such a mammoth enterprise.

"The superb photography and design of the book is immediately striking and allows readers to appreciate the extraordinary depth and quality of this internationally important collection."

The industry ship models were often constructed to refine the design of a new vessel or to illustrate and promote a completed vessel at exhibitions.

Most were built at a scale of 1:48, one inch to four feet, and in one of two forms; a half hull, which shows one half of the hull as if divided down the centre line of the vessel or a full-hull, which was usually fitted with a realistic framework of how the finished ship would look.

First displayed in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum’s ‘Ship Court’, the models were moved to the newly created ‘Clyde Room’ at the Museum of Transport on Albert Drive in 1978.

By the time the museum moved to the Kelvin Hall in 1988, the Clyde Room had become a much-loved feature, so it was recreated on a larger scale and proved incredibly popular.

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Riverside Museum now displays around one quarter of Glasgow’s world famous ship model collection, which remains a favourite exhibit with visitors.

Emily added: "Models have always been interpreted as representations of a real ship.

"Researching this book has enabled us to consider ship models more fully as objects in their own right.

"We have sought to highlight the work of the generally uncredited craftsmen who made the models.

"Their dexterity and creativity as individuals is inspiring, and collectively they have left an exceptional cultural legacy from the heart of shipbuilding and maritime trade on the Clyde.

"We are very much looking forward to hosting the UK Maritime Heritage Forum at Riverside Museum this week.

"It’s a joy to be able to launch this book while we have some of the country’s most esteemed maritime experts with us in Glasgow."

Glasgow Museums: The Ship Models – A History and Complete Illustrated Catalogue is now available to buy at Riverside Museum and can be ordered from

It is co-published with Seaforth Publishing for £35.