The Saint Tudwal was a small rear engined steam coaster, built by Swan Hunter at Newcastle (Yard No. 204) and launched in 1895. Her tonnage was 207 gross, 105 nett, and her dimensions were 115’x 20.5'x 8.8'. The Saint Tudwal was engined by J P Rennoldson, and had a 2 cylinder compound steam engine. She had around five previous owners before being bought by a Mr Alex Johnston of Carrickfergus in 1933.
On the evening of Sunday 12th August 1934 the Saint Tudwal was heading south through the Sound of Islay en route to Londonderry with cargo of 200 tons of coal. Bad weather had hampered their trip from Goole and it had taken her 5 days to reach Islay, having encountered gales coming through the Pentland Firth.
Around 8pm she passed McArthur’s Head lighthouse and altered her course south towards Ardmore Point. Its not clear what circumstances lead to her grounding, whether a navigational error or as the skipper claimed defective steering gear, but around 8.30pm she grounded on rocks off Carraig Mhor, 3 miles south of the lighthouse springing a number of hull plates in the process.
After inspections below deck by Captain Hill and her four crew, they proceeded on their voyage with the bilge pumps running at full rate. When off Ardbeg it became clear that the pumps were not keeping pace with the influx of water and Captain Hill gave the order to abandon ship and shortly after the crew pulled away she settled down by the bow and sank in what was estimated to be 35 fathoms of water. The crew later landed at Ardbeg and were given shelter and food and travelled to Glasgow the following day aboard the SS Clydesdale.
Saint Tudwal slideshow
The Wreck Today
The wreck of the Saint Tudwal lies in 59.7 metres on a flat mud and shell seabed in position 55°36.122N 006°01.841W. She lies 070/250° with her stern to the north east. The hull rises no more than 2-3 metres above seabed level and what is left of the engine room casing perhaps another 2.5 metres. A net is caught on the stern and runs along the port side of the wreck as far as the hold. This is a substantial piece of net and great care should be taken when close to it, the net rises 5-6 metres above the wreck and makes the mark easier to find on the sounder.
The condition of the wreck is fair considering its exposure to the North Channel and large Atlantic swell. The vessel must have hit the seabed with great force as the bow is well buried in the seabed, the bow winch is just visible. The wreck rises above the seabed around the base of the mast and continues to rise at a shallow angle along the length of the wreck to the stern where the rudder and propellor are visible under the overhang.
The Saint Tudwal is not the most scenic of wrecks, however it is intact, which makes it one of the few within a couple of miles of the Islay coast. Visibility varies the best I have seen is around 8 metres, the worst 3 metres and dark, although I am sure at certain times during late summer the visibility should be in the region of 10-15 metres.