www.Ayrshireroots.com   and   www.Ayrshireroots.co.uk

Genealogy Section






        Shipwrecks off the Ayrshire Coast and Ailsa Craig


  pre 1740

Portencross Galleon


Lady Margaret






Duke of Edinburgh




Glen Campbell






Iron Duke














Storm Lights






Marjorie Seed


U - 33










Glen Sheil




Portencross Galleon  There is no doubt that there was and probably still is, the wreck of a large wooden ship which dates from pre 1740 lying somewhere off Portencross. It could be a ship from the Spanish Armada which sailed up the Clyde.


Lady Margaret   A three masted wooden sailing ship launched in 1769. She left Greenock on 17th January 1770 destined for James River, Virginia under the command of Captain James Kippen. She was hit by a violent storm and the captain decided to return to Greenock.  By the 23rd January 1770 she was back off Arran and the Little Cumbrae. In the violent gale she was swept eastwards onto the rocks just south of Portencross Castle.


Trelawney  455nt. Wooden sailing ship launched in 1809.  On 22nd January 1819 she sailed into the Clyde on the final stage of her voyage from Jamaica to Greenock. Captain David Reid and a crew of 25. In heavy fog ran aground on the sands between Stevenston and Irvine. Four local men took a boat into the surf and attached a line. Tragically on the return trip the four plus eleven of the crew they had rescued were drowned. Further crew were drowned during the night. At around midday the following day five sailors from Irvine went out in a boat and succeeded in rescuing the remaining six crew. Street in Stevenston named after her - Trelawney Terrace.


Cleveragh  216nt Wooden Schooner. Built in Stockholm. Launched 1851. She sailed from Liverpool on 19th December 1865 with a cargo of coal bound for Pernambuco, under the command of Captain Hourigan. As she reached Innistrahul the wind suddenly increased carrying away her jib boom . They struggled on for a few more hours but the pumps were now manned constantly and she was becoming difficult to handle. The captain decided to run for Troon to make repairs. On the 27th December 1865 on sighting the light at Troon Harbour they turned east towards the harbour and ran aground on the Black Rocks which lie just offshore. and then washed onto the shore, despite dropping her anchors. She became a total wreck. Her captain and crew made it safely to the shore.


Duke of Edinburgh  797gt Iron paddle steamer. Built by R Duncan & Co, Port Glasgow. Launched 1866. (ex Earl of Dublin). Had always been an unlucky ship her career being a catalogue of accidents and disasters. She left Dublin bound for Glasgow on the 18th January 1870 with a cargo of cattle and 30 passengers. As they approached Ailsa Craig the weather became foggy and  Captain Byrne ordered engines slowed. Travelling at 13 knots she headed into a fog bank and ran ashore on the island with such force that more than half the length of the vessel reached above the high water mark. The sound of the crash was heard by a number of vessels and the  crew, passengers and even the cattle were on their way in other vessels. Most of the cargo was eventually removed and a strong south westerly gale on the 3rd February broke her in two amidships, and she became a total wreck.


Chasun  1381gt Iron paddle steamer owned by the China Steam Navigation Company. She was an unusual craft, more reminiscent of a Mississippi steamboat than a Clyde Steamer. She had left Glasgow on the 8th October 1874 bound for Shanghai but on reaching Waterford had to return to the Clyde due to a fault in her engines. On the 21st October 1874 she encountered a violent storm which forced her to run for Ardrossan Harbour. She was within 200 yards of the safety of the breakwater but was swept, out of control, onto the Crinan Rocks and immediately began to break up. Frantic efforts were made from those ashore but were not helped by there being no coastguards, who were away on exercises. The sea quickly broke the ship in two as a small tug tried to get a rope to the vessel. The smaller forepart of the wreck was washed into the harbour and those on board this section were saved. The remainder of the ship was stuck fast on the rocks and was soon smashed to pieces as the horrified crowd looked on. Fifteen of the crew including the captain were drowned.


Glen Campbell 729nt. Iron barque. Built by Bartram & Co. Sunderland. Launched March 1875. Sailed from Le Havre bound for Glasgow on 10th January 1881.The Master Peter McEwan refused to accept a tow some distance prior to Ailsa Craig and when the tug's master finally got to board, three unsuccessful attempts were made to get a line aboard the tug and she ran ashore on the island and was badly holed. The crew abandoned and rowed ashore. She was eventually stripped of her spars, rigging, sails and fittings and abandoned.


Bruce  80gt. Steel steamship. Built by Scott & Son, Bowling. Launched 1875. Sailed from Irvine on the 27th January 1882 with a load of manganese waste. As she left the River Irvine a strong southerly wind was blowing and when she turned north west about one and a half miles from the bar she heeled over to port in the beam sand and sank. A tug was immediately sent to the rescue but by the time it reached the scene only Captain Burrows remained alive.


Valkyrien  381nt. Wooden barque. Launched 1850.  Inward bound for Glasgow on 11th December 1883 while abeam with Pladda she was overtaken by hurricane force winds and driven out of control towards the Ayrshire coast. Attempts to hold her only resulted in anchor cables parting. She was eventually driven ashore just north of Dunure Harbour. Miraculously only one live was lost. She broke up the moment she ran aground.


Iron Duke 32nt Iron paddle tug. Launched 1877.  On 10th December 1883 she left Glasgow bound for the south end of Arran where Captain McBride intended to seek towing work. Throughout the following day she headed south in hurricane force winds. Disaster struck when her engine broke down seven miles west of the Heads of Ayr. She was eventually driven ashore just north of Dunure Harbour and immediately began to break up. The six crew members abandoned ship however Captain McBride was washed away. his body being recovered the next day.


Austria  1083nt Iron Steamship. Built in Newcastle. Launched 1884.She left Fiume in the Adriatic on 28th September 1884 with a crew of 21, a stowaway and about 1800 tons of general cargo. Captain Helig had set a course up the Clyde on the 15th October 1884 in good weather and fog free, and retired. Despite noticing land ahead, before any action could be started she ran aground on Ailsa Craig. After violent arguments with the captain the first officer Mr Henry took command of the situation. Shortly after daybreak a tug took Mr Henry to Ardrossan and salvage operations were organised. The Captain and second officer were subsequently found responsible for the loss of the Austria.


Pennon  94nt Iron Steamship. Built by T. B. Seath & Co, Glasgow. Launched March 1883.She had sailed from Duddon bound for Glasgow. On the 23rd January 1889 she ran ashore on Ailsa Craig in thick fog. A salvage team attempted to repair her damaged hull but a gale on the 1st February caused considerable damage and the vessel was lost.


Frey  1192nt Wooden barque. Built by T. J. Southard, Richmond, USA. Launched 1871.  December 1894 had been the worse month for shipping casualties in the history of the Clyde. On the 29th December 1894 the she was inward bound to Greenock with a cargo of timber from the USA Mountainous seas whipped up by storm force winds lashed her as she dropped anchor in the lee of Lady Idle, off Troon, and fired her distress rockets. It was impossible to launch the Troon Lifeboat but the Irvine Lifeboat launched and rushed to the scene but due to the heavy swell she was unable to come alongside her. One by one the crew jumped into the surf to be picked up  skilfully by the lifeboat crew.  However as the lifeboat with the sixteen crewmen and thirteen lifeboatmen approached the safety of Troon Harbour  she was capsized by a huge wave throwing everyone into the sea. The boat righted itself immediately and allowed all but two of those on board to clamber back to safety and reach Troon Harbour. The abandoned Frey broke from her anchor and eventually came ashore on the rocks off Seafield near the mouth of the river Doon, south of Ayr.


Coronella  108nt  Wooden Brigantine. Built by Miller & Co, Walton, Nova Scotia. Launched 1862.  She left Glasgow bound for Dingle in Ireland with a cargo of coal. As they passed Belfast Lough on the 21st December 1894  the experience a howling gale which increase to hurricane force. She had her sails and rigging torn to tatters and was swept out of control towards the Scottish coast as the crew clung for their lives to the remaining rigging. As the vessel was washed ashore at Port Ronald, Troon, a number of local men risked their lives by clambering over the rocks to wait for the Brigantine to run aground. The instant she grounded they threw a rope to the ship and helped her terrified and frozen crew struggle ashore through the swell and spray. All six crew reached shore safely.


Secret  78nt. Wooden schooner. Built in 1865. She was on a voyage from Hayle in Cornwall to Glasgow with a cargo of eighteen tons of dynamite, in six hundred casks, under the command of Captain Francis Thomson. On the 11th February 1896 she experienced gale force winds and her mast snapped as she passed the Heads of Ayr and she was driven helpless, across Ayr Bay and onto the Black Rocks off Troon. The crew of four took to the ship's boats and after two cold and wet hours reached the shore. The next morning she rolled over on the rocks and vanished in a huge explosion sending wreckage up to a mile and shattering nearby doors and windows.


Ahdeek   998nt Iron steamship. Built by Short Bros, Sunderland.  Launched 1881.  She had been anchored off the Saltpan Patches waiting on a storm to pass to allow her to enter Ayr Harbour with a load of iron ore on the 11th December 1898. However a signal was received  ordering the vessel to proceed to Troon and discharge there. Unfortunately she had bottomed heavily while at anchor and had punctured her stern ballast tanks and damaged her propellor and rudder. She managed to clear the reefs and was assisted by tugs, however Captain Moore gave the order to abandon ship as she was taking in water quickly. The crew were transferred to another tug in the lifeboat. The Ahdeek was towed towards Troon Harbour but suddenly foundered  about one mile west of Troon Harbour. 


Storm Lights  24nt. Iron paddle tug. Built by J. T. Eltringham, South Shields. Launched 1886. She was on a voyage from Ardrossan to Belfast on the 23rd November 1898 under the command of her master George McGugan. She ran aground on the Carlton Dog Rocks about six mile south of Girvan. The crew landed safely. The vessel was a total wreck


Carrick  195nt. Steel steamship. Built by D & W Henderson, Glasgow. Launched 1885.  Owned by the Ayr Steam Shipping Company On the 26th May 1906 she was returning to Ayr with a cargo of cattle under the command of Captain Leadbetter with a crew of eleven and six passengers. She was in a collision with the vessel S. S. Duke of Gordon in dense fog close to Ailsa Craig. The Duke of Gordon tore into her starboard side ripping a hole in the hull. Two crew jumped onto the Duke of Gordon and the Carrick quickly launched her lifeboat. Before they could all get aboard she settled down and sank taking the Captain , who refused to leave the bridge, the cabin boy and two of the passengers with her. All the others were rescued by the S. S. Mastiff.


Variag  6500dt.  Protected cruiser. Built by Cramp & Co, Philadelphia. Launched 1899. Completed 1901. On the 5th February 1920 she left the Gareloch under tow on her final voyage to the scrapyards. on the 6th February 1920 a strong gale had built up which eventually proved too much for the tugs to control the rolling hulk. She ended up stranded on the beach at the north end of Lendalfoot Bay. The Ardrossan Salvage Co were engaged to refloat her. After considerable bad weather caused more damage to her hull the Company withdrew from the salvage as it was now uneconomical. A German contractor commenced salvage work in 1924 and this continued until 1926.


Marjorie Seed   1162nt. Steel steamship. Built by Osbourne & Graham, Sunderland. Launched 1907.  She left Rothesay Dock, Clydebank for her voyage to Huelva with a cargo of coal and coke on the 26th December 1924.The weather was fair and it remained fair when she ran aground later on Lady Isle. No satisfactory explanation has been given for this serious error in navigation. The crew were taken off by lifeboat. She was badly holed in her post side. 


U - 33  745dt. German submarine. Type VIIIA. Built by Keil Shipyard, Germany. Launched July 1936. The U33 had left Wilhelmshaven  on 5th February 1940 under Kapitanleutnant Hans Von Dresky and a crew of Forty. Her daring, almost suicidal task, which had been ordered by Hitler himself, was to lay mines in one of the Allies most valuable seaways, the River Clyde. They arrived in the Clyde on the 12th February 1940. HMS Gleaner a Royal Navy mine-sweaper in patrol on the Clyde that night and made hydrophone contact with the submarine. After three depth charge runs the submarine was brought to the surface. The crew in the conning tower surrendered but had to jump into the sea when the submarine exploded after it's preset dynamite charges exploded scuttling it.  Twenty survivors were picked up and a number of bodies, which were later buried in a communal grave in a Greenock cemetery. The submarine was sunk five miles south of Pladda.


Dasher                                  HMS Dasher Webpage


Aarla  265nt.  Steel motor yacht. Built by D. & W. Henderson, Glasgow. Launched 1903   Built as a private steam yacht. In October 1939 she was  purchased by the Admiralty for war service as an anti-submarine patrol vessel. After the war she lay at her moorings of Tighnabruaich until June 1947 when she was purchased by the Park Lane Shipping Company intended for service as a pleasure steamer. On the 16th June 1947 Captain R. D. Young declared the ship fit to sail and set sail with eight crew for Lowestoft, via Ardrossan for fuel. What happened has never been established as there were no survivors from the sinking south of Ailsa Craig 


Margaretta  1694nt. Steel ore carrier. Built by J Blumer & Co. Sunderland. Launched 1904.  She was bound for Glasgow under Captain Sundell with a cargo of iron ore when she ran aground on Ailsa Craig on 22nd December 1952. Lifeboats fro Girvan and Campbeltown rescued all the crew. The ship was refloated on 29th December and towed to the Gareloch for repair.


Brigadier   268gt. Steel tug. Built by J. Crown & Son, Sunderland. Launched in 1942. She left Greenock on 19th October 1960 to assist two Norwegian tankers into the Shell Refinery Terminal at Ardrossan. As she approached Ardrossan Harbour she was engulfed in a snow squall and ran aground on Horse Island, tearing her hull on a shallow reef. The Ardrossan Pilot , Neil McDonald, had observed the incident set off and picked up the shaken crew. Salvage was carried by Metal Industries who broke her up as she lay.


Glen Sheil  195gt.  Steel cargo vessel. Built by Livingston & Co, Peterhead. Launched 1959. She left Ayr Harbour on the 29th June 1973 bound for Sheildhall in Glasgow. As she crossed Ayr Bay her hold started filling with seawater due to the hatch boards not being covered by a tarpaulin. She developed a list to port, which cased the 215 tons of coal cargo to shift and she eventually foundered.  Only one of the seven crew survived, being only alerted to the danger shortly before she sank.


Kaffir  98gt. Steel cargo vessel. On the morning of 23rd September 1974 she was illegally taken out of Ayr Harbour by her engineer and eventually went ashore 200 metres north of Monkey Pier. Efforts to refloat her were not successful and she was written off.


The Book


Clyde Shipwrecks


 - contains more details on all of the above incidents and many more shipwrecks in the rest of the Clyde. If you wish to order the book at a price of 12.95  you can order direct, from Amazon, by clicking here.  For more information and to ORDER






& .co.uk



Copyright 2000-15   The contents of these webpages are copyright.