The iron steam trawler Edison was launched from the Beverley yard of Cochrane and Cooper Ltd (Yard No 225) on 17th September 1898. She measured 115.3′ x 21.0′ x 11.6′ and her tonnage was 196 gross tons, 53 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by Amos & Smith Ltd., Hull delivering 60 registered horse power.
Built for Francis and Thomas Ross’ Hull Ice Company Ltd she was registered in Hull H430. In December 1914, just after the start of World War One, she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted for service as a minesweeper including the fitting of a defensive deck gun.
The records of the loss of Edison show that there was no full consensus reached on the cause of her stranding at Arnoil, Lewis on 6th July, 1915. She was under the command of Sub-lieutenant Townend RNR who was an experienced seamen who had been an instructor in navigation at the Grimsby Navigation School before the war. Townend had taken over from the trawler’s normal skipper, Sub-lieutenant Vialls, who had been invalided for failing sight. Townend’s experience make the navigation error that was suspected at the time seem unlikely. At the official enquiry the more likely, but not widely held, opinion was that the new position of the ship’s gun and some re-arranging of metal tow wires stowed aboard may have caused a deviation in the ship’s compass which took her off course and onto the rocks.
Irrespective of the reason it is clear that the course of the Edison, intended to be WbyS1/2S from her departure point off the Butt of Lewis, took her close inshore north of Point Arnol where she ran aground and became a total wreck. The records of the incident don’t mention any casualties so it seems likely that the crew escaped safely ashore.
For the purposes of fixing an approximate location for this wreck we have assigned the position of 55° 21.383’N, 006° 37.263’W. This position is not based on any diver or survey related information. This position is on the north west side of Bo Arnol, a prominent reef close to the position of the wreck marked on the Admiralty enquiry papers.