THE days when the Forth was crowded with battleships will be recalled at a presentation in Dollar next week.

Dollar History Society will hear from Andrew Kerr who is bringing an illustrated lecture describing the challenges of protecting and operating the British Grand Fleet during World War One.

With some 200 ships, the group of ships was based at Scapa Flow at the beginning of the war and the battlecruisers moved to Rosyth in December 1914.

However, it took until April 1918 to make the estuary safe enough for the rest of the fleet to form up, by then every significant harbour had been taken over for military use.

Mr Kerr is a retired lawyer with a lifelong passion for ships and the Royal Navy. He was the consultant naval historian for the recent BBC programme 'Scotland's War at Sea' and was a member of the Scottish Government's Battle of Jutland Commemorations Working Group.

He said: "I served in the RNR [Royal Navy Reserve] for 15 years, and have had a lifelong interest in naval matters.

"I suggested about three years ago that the World War One commemorations might present a good opportunity to fill what I regarded as a major gap in general knowledge and awareness, namely the hugely important part played by Rosyth Dockyard and the Forth estuary as a base for the Grand Fleet, especially towards the end of the war, when Admiral Beatty abandoned Scapa Flow and brought the whole fleet south.

"Very little is said about it in the Scottish National War Museum in Edinburgh Castle, and until recently even less was said about it in the local museum in South Queensferry."

The historian therefore secured information panels which were erected not far from Hawes Pier and hopes to have duplicates placed at suitable locations around the estuary.

He added: "The little town is an immensely popular tourist destination, but until recently nothing whatsoever seems to have been made of this fascinating and important chapter in its long history."

The society meets next Tuesday, December 12, at Dollar Academy's Dining Hall, starting at 7.30pm.