The Cuirassier, a small rear engined coastal steamer, was owned and managed in Glasgow by Duncan Gardner. Purchased in 1892 from the Boston & Hull SS Company she worked the west coast routes carrying mainly small general freight. Built in 1860 by Richardson Duck & Co Ltd of Cleveland the vessel measured 95.4′ x 19.6′ x 7.8′ and a net tonnage of 54t.
On Sunday 15 July 1894, while outward bound from Glasgow to Bonawe with machinery and horse bedding, the Cuirassier ran ashore north of Little Cumbrae Lighthouse. The seabed around this part of the island drops steeply and, as the tide rose, she slipped from her precarious position and sank. Contemporary reports indicated that she had gone down in twelve fathoms.
The Wreck Today
The remains of the Cuirassier lie approximately 500 metres north of the lighthouse in position 55° 43.571’N, 04° 57.804’W. Lying up and down a steep mud and shingle slope, she lies in depths much deeper than reported at the time of her loss. She lies in 30 – 36 metres from bow to stern. The wreck is well broken with the only recognisable part being the aft section from boiler to stern. Here the hull has sunk into the soft mud seabed and projects no more than 1 metre above seabed level. The engine and boiler are both partially buried in the mud and probably only rise around 50cm above the mud and debris filled hull.