The Haileybury was launched on 28 November 1901 and completed in February 1902. She was one of ten vessels constructed to the same basic design by her builders William Pickersgill & Sons Ltd. at Southwick in Sunderland. These vessels were steel cargo steamships with dimensions of 324.0’ x 47.1’ x 21.7’; and tonnages were 2888 gross and 1809 net. Designs were tweaked to suit individual buyers requirements but the general layout and hull dimensions remained the same. The ship layout was – 33’ foc’sle at bow, foredeck with two hatches, central bridge deck 96’ long, aft deck with two main hatches, and a poop deck at the stern 31’ long. The Haileybury was powered by a single triple expansion steam engine developing 282nhp. While researching the Haileybury we were unable to find any photographs so decided to look at her sisterships and amazingly we found that two of these had also met their end off the west coast of Scotland. The two vessels are the the SS Esbo which sank 20 miles to the north, off Girvan in 1936, and the SS Veni that ran aground off the north coast of Islay in 1948. Stories on these vessels can be found on this site by clicking on the names. Pictures of the two vessels are included here.
The London registered steamship Haileybury sank off the Galloway Coast on 22nd February 1918 after being torpedoed by the German submarine SM U-91. The vessel took many hours to sink which allowed the crew plenty of time to abandon ship, unfortunately the master and one crew member were killed as a result of the attack. SM U-91 made her escape and went on to sink 40 ships (c96,000 tons) before surrendering on 21 November 1918 at Harwich as part of the WW1 armistice. She was later broken up at Briton Ferry, South Wales in 1921, and her deck gun survives as part of a war memorial in Chepstow.
The Wreck Today
The wreck of the Haileybury lies approximately 5 miles south west of Corsewall Lighthouse, in position 54° 55.173’N, 005° 16.010’W. General seabed depths around the wreck are 44 metres with shallowest depth on the wreck of 34 metres. The wreck lies 070°/250° with stern at the NE end of the wreck.
One of the most striking features of the wreck is the prominent stern castle, with gun still in place, pointing towards the shore. The gun and counter stern section is a blaze of colour with anemones and soft corals, of special note are the crimson jewel anemones which have colonised the gun and pedestal. The wreck is a substantial size, and will take a least one dive to fully explore.
A word of caution, the wreck is swept by strong tides on both ebb and flood and can probably only be dived at slack water, while this should be checked locally the authors believe this to be around 1.5 hours before HW/LW Greenock. This will vary on phase of tide, as will the period of slack water.