The Cornelian was a rear engined steamship owned by William Robertson of Glasgow and part of the Gem Line of general cargo vessels working around the UK coast. She was launched in February 1890 by Scott & Son of Bowling (Yard No 77). Constructed from steel and iron the hull measured 142.6’ x 25.1’ x 11.1’ and tonnage was 387 gross and 139 net. She was powered by a triple expansion engine supplied by Muir and Houston of Glasgow.
The Cornelian ran aground on the Drochart, the most northerly of the Genoch Rocks – 1 mile south of Corsewall Point. The accident occurred on Wednesday 30 September 1908 while on a voyage from Glasgow to Llanddulus Quarry near Colwyn Bay. The vessel had encountered fog in lower part of the Clyde yet her master Ritchie was still running the Cornelian at almost full speed when they ran ashore around 2am. Fortunately the Cornelian was in ballast otherwise the damage may well have been a lot worse.
Initial inspections revealed some openings in the fore-hold but the vessels pumps were able to manage. The vessel was in an exposed position from south to north, but the weather held, with mainly easterly winds and smooth sea. A salvage team were onsite the following day along with the Salvage Association’s surveyor. A decision was taken to carefully blast away rock below the hull and this allowed the vessel to be dropped nearly 3 feet. A diver and attendant we’re also on scene and assisted with inspections, placing explosives and patching of the hull. A salvage tug arrived and assisted with placing of anchors offshore on 5 October. By midday on 7 October everything was in place for an attempt to float the stranded vessel on the evening high tide, and fortunately the Cornelian floated off around 9.45pm and was towed round to Stranraer in Loch Ryan and beached. After further work to the hull the following day she left Stranraer arriving at the repair slipway in Ayr harbour on 9 October.