THERE had, apparently, been sceptics - "Dismal Jimmies" in the words of the Evening Times's columnist, Man in the Street - who had been pouring cold water on efforts to restore direct sailings between America and Scotland once the war came to an end in 1945. But the arrival of the Cunard White Star liner Britannic at Greenock in May 1951 was a fitting response to them.

Some 547 passengers, 334 of whom were American citizens, landed at Greenock. The town's provost, Robert Boyd, boarded the vessel along with members of the Scottish Tourist Board to welcome the tourists. Princes Pier was decorated with flags and bunting for the occasion, and a pipe band played as the visitors disembarked. Thousands of people lined the quayside to greet friends and relatives.

Many of the tourists had chosen to travel direct to the Clyde on the Britannic rather than embark on the Queen Mary, which had left New York on the same day. James J Mariner, senior vice-president of the Cook Organisation in North America, said that while it was too early to say how the travel season would work out in the end, US bookings for Britain had increased considerably by the time he sailed on board the Britannic.

It was just a shame the weather didn't play its part in Greenock that day; "heavy rain put the damper on the whole scene," reported The Bulletin, "and many among the waiting crowds were drenched before they met their friends."