Glenlee was built in 1896 at the Anderson Rodger & Company shipyard of Port Glasgow for the Glen-line of the Glasgow shipping company Archibald Sterling & Co. Ltd. and has a hull length of , beam of and depth of , the over-all length with the spike bowsprit is . She has 1,613 GRT and 1,490 NRT. Rigged only with double topallant sails over double top sails, she was not equipped with royal sails (baldheader rigging) to save costs concerning gear and seamen. As with many baldheaded sailing ships the square sails were a little wider than the sails of a standard rigging to gain sail area for a better propulsion.
On December 13, 1896, just ten days after launch, her maiden voyage brought her in ballast to Liverpool and from there with a general cargo to Portland, Oregon. After a 23-years career as a bulk cargo carrier under the Civil Red Ensign in the Cape Horn and Australia trade, Islamount ("Islamount Sailing Ship Co. (Robert Ferguson & Co.)" of Dundee, 1898-1905, and "Flint Castle Shipping Co." (Robert Thomas & Co.) of Liverpool, 1905-1918) ex Glenlee was renamed the Clarastella in 1919 when she changed hands to the Italian "Società Di Navigazione Stella d'Italia" of Milan ("Italian shipping Company Star of Italy") being registered in Genoa. The new owner has her repaired and equipped with two auxiliary diesel engines (1922). In 1922 the ship came in the hands of the "Escuela Naval Militar de Oficiales" ("Officers's Military Navy School") as the Galatea being used as a sail training ship. During this time the ship underwent a lot of changes to hull and superstructure. A flying bridge was installed on the poop deck, a flying jibboom was attached to the spike bowsprit, and many other changes such as the installation of accommodation facilities for 300 cadets. After a more than 47 year service as a sail and later on as a stationary training ship she was first laid up in A Graña, El Ferrol, her Spanish port of registry. In 1981 the underwater ship was re-plated at the drydock of Ferrol. Years later the more than 85 years old Glenlee was completely rigged down to a hulk (all yards with standing and running rigging and even the masts removed) and towed to Seville to be used as a floating museum, but left forgotten. Some sources even report the ship was sunk in the harbour by removing her bronze sea cock valve, but salvaged later on by the Spanish Navy. Anyway the ship was considerably vandalized to be eventually scrapped. In 1990 a British naval architect (Dr. Sir John Brown, 1901-2000) detected her and in 1993 she was rescued from being scrapped and subsequently bought by the Clyde Maritime Trust at auction for ₧5000,000 or £40,000. After making the hull seaworthy (all openings on deck were closed, the flying bridge spanning the poop deck during the service in Spain and the attached flying jibboom were removed) the ship was returned to Glasgow months later in tow from Seville. After preliminary works at drydock such as the removal of the unnecessary propellers, the check and repair of all plates below the waterline and a new paint, a six years lasting process of restoration began including the new cut wooden figurehead, a complete new rigging including the re-assembling and re-stepping of her original masts and re-crossing of the old yards (1998), and many other replacements (original deckhouses) and repairs. Her old masts and many of the old yards which still existed somewhere in Spain were given back by the Spaniards when they realized the old ship will be really renewed to her original "Cape Horn status", painted grey again with "gun ports". Except for the hull a new ship had to be rebuilt. All changes made to the ship by the Spanish and previous owners had to be removed, e.g. all cabins built in for the trainees and a lot of scrap iron ballast in the frames of the holds. First of all she was given back her original name Glenlee by the Lord Provost of Glasgow on July 6, 1993 when the ship arrived the first time after her launch in 1896 - 97 years ago - at her old and new port of registry - Glasgow Harbour. Glenlee is now recognised as part of the "Core Collection of historic vessels" in the UK by the National Historic Ships Committee. As a museum ship and tourist attraction, the Glenlee offers educational programmes, events including exhibitions and venue for the West End Festival and volunteering opportunities.
Four other Clyde-built tall ships are still afloat: