The small steel coastal steamship Hare was built at Scott and Co Ltd., Bowling and launched on 19th February 1892. She measured 120.0′ x 20.1′ x 9.4′ and weighed 224 gross tons, 92 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by Fisher and Co Ltd. of Paisley delivering 50 rhp. Built for her first owner Charles H Pile of London she was purchased only two years later by the Kelvin Steamship Company of Glasgow who renamed her Kelvinside. She changed ownership three more times before she was purchased by her final owners Alexander Dempsey of Wigtown in April 1923.
In the early hours of the morning of 4th August 1932, Kelvinside left Whitehaven heading for Quoile Quay, Strangford Lough with two hundred tons of iron ore under the command of Captain Dempsey. On board he had his usual crew of seven men expecting an uneventful voyage on a route often travelled by the vessel and it‘s crew. However, at around seven o’clock in the morning, when less than halfway to their destination and five or six miles off the Mull of Galloway, the engine’s main injector pipe burst. The engine almost immediately cut out and sea water began pouring in through the broken pipe, with no power to run the pumps it was soon obvious that the Kelvinside was in trouble and would founder. When no-one responded to their distress signals Captain Dempsey ordered the crew into the two ship’s boats with their belongings and they safely disembarked before the ship slipped beneath the waves. The crew were to spend many uncomfortable hours rowing the fourteen miles to Portwilliam which they finally reached around 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
The Wreck Today
The wreck of the Kelvinside is charted in 22 metres of water in position 54°38.561’N, 004°37.555’W on a flat gravel and broken shell seabed. The wreck is well broken but still maintains recognisable ship features with the stern (1), with it’s intact rudder and propeller, the most obvious features. Midships the large boiler (5) rises from the broken wreckage of the remainder of the ship. Forward the bow (9) is also in tact standing three metres proud of the seabed. The area of the wreck is subject to strong tidal flows making safe exploration of the wreck only possible at slack water.
We would like to thank Newton Stewart Sub Aqua Club (BSAC 1853) for kind permission to reproduce their ‘Wreck Tour’ image of the Kelvinside from their website. This and information on other shipwrecks in the Solway Firth area can be found here https://www.nsdivers.co.uk.