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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 761175

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NR26NW 8003 2059 6790

N55 49.4 W6 27.7

NLO: Port Ban [name: NR 208 679]

Smaull [name: NR 214 685]

Coul Point [name: NR 188 644]

Loch Indaal [name centred NR 26 57].

Formerly entered as NR26NW 9109.

BELFORD steamer, master J. H. Marshall, of Sunderland. Bound from Barry to New York. No cargo. 24 crew lost. Lost 9 Feb 1916, 1.30pm. Smaull, Islay, 10 miles from Loch Indaal Lighthouse. Cause of wreck 'Loss of propeller. Drifting along the coast of Ireland for 10 or 12 days in a helpless state through loss of propeller. Came ashore, smashed up by the sea and has now quite disappeared'.

[Contemporary] source: Lightkeeper, Loch Indaal Lighthouse.

Quality of fix = PA

Horizontal Datum = OGB

General water depth = 6

Circumstances of Loss Details


The BELFORD was built in 1901 and wrecked at Smaull, Islay, whilst en-route from Barry to New York. It was owned at time of loss by Christie & Co.

Source; Dictionary of Disasters at Sea.

Surveying Details


10 March 1975. The wreck is very broken up and what remains is in about 6 metres of water at 55 49 24N, 006 27 42w approximately.

Report by P Sellars, 11 February 1975.

Hydrographic Office, 1995

WRECK AT ISLAY. SHIP DRIFTS FOR 10 DAYS. FEARED LOSS OF ALL HANDS. The wild western coast of Islay was on the 9th inst. the scene of a wreck of a steamer of about 3000 tons, and there is only too good reason to fear for the loss of the entire crew of probably about 13 men. A wild gale of north westerly wind was blowing on the 9th and a drifting steamer was observed by one of the coast watchers in the early morning, but did not suspect her to be in distress. About 2.00pm a mast was observed above the rocks, and hurrying to the place, found a steamer close up to a high rock.

The coast near Smaul is the wildest in Islay, with high rocks towering above the land - one of the worst places at which a vessel could strike. She was the BELFORD of Sunderland (Capt. J H Marshall). Her papers showed that she was bound from Barry to New York. When off the coast of Ireland her propellor struck some wreckage, breaking the blades, and the vessel had drifted helplessly in the storm since January 30th. The log records the constant sending up of distress signals, and it is surprising how the steamer could have drifted such a length of time without having been observed. The boats were gone, and it is probable that the poor fellows saw their vessel nearing the huge rocks, took to the boats and were lost.

The body of the 2nd mate, a young man of 29 was washed ashore near Ballinaby about the time of the wreck, and evidently life had only been extinct for a very short time. The body was interred at Kilchoman churchyard. A broken boat has also come ashore.

Since the BELFORD struck, very wild weather has pervailed and on Saturday evening only the after half of the steamer remained. Huge seas were dashing her in pieces.

Source: Oban Times, 19 February 1916.

(Classified as steel steamship, in ballast: date of loss cited as 9 February 1916). Belford: this vessel stranded at Smaull, Islay. Capt. Marshall.

Registration: Sunderland. Built 1901. 3216grt. Length: 98m. Beam: 14m.

(Location of loss cited as N55 50.10 W6 27.70).

I G Whittaker 1998.

The photograph (taken after stranding) that is reproduced by Blackburn illustrates a general cargo vessel of conventional type, with three islands, two masts and apparently four holds.

The location assigned to this record remains unverified.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 23 July 2003.

S Blackburn 1986.

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