One of the larger vessels to become a total wreck around the Isle of Arran was the cargo passenger steamship Britannia. Owned by the Anchor line of Quebec and Montreal, she was launched from the yard of Tod & McGregor of Partick, Glasgow in June 1863. She was powered by a compound steam engine of 360nhp powering a single screw. Her iron hull had dimensions of 261.5′ x 33.1′ x 21.5’ and net tonnage of 1118 tons. The ships official number was 45984.
On Tuesday 28 January 1873 the Britannia was inward bound to Glasgow from Alexandria and Malta when she ran aground on Torrylinn Beach, Isle of Arran. She had encountered strong winds accompanied by dense fog in the North Channel causing her to veer far off course, and while breakers were seen before she went ashore the crew were unable to take any preventative action.
News that a large ship had gone ashore on the south west of Arran soon reached Glasgow. The salvage steamer Dispatch and the tug Flying Squall left Glasgow the same day with representatives of the owners and a salvage team aboard. Initial attempts to re-float the Britannia were hampered by continuing bad weather. However, part of her cargo of wheat, beans, cotton, and olive oil was successfully removed during the following week, along with her sails, ropes and loose fittings.
Attempts to re-float the Britannia were finally abandoned in early February as damage to her hull and engine room had become so extensive she was considered beyond economical repair. The wreck was advertised for sale in March 1873, to be sold by public auction on 21st March in Glasgow. We have been unable to establish the outcome of the sale although a Greenock owned smack called the Elizabeth was lost at Torrylinn Beach in June 1873 and the loss notes that it was employed with work on the wreck of the Britannia.
A Board of Trade inquiry took place between 12-14 March 1873 in Glasgow to establish the cause of the loss. The judgement of the Court was that the loss of the ship was caused by her master, Thomas Morrison, and his certificate was suspended for 6 months.