The steel steamship Nancie Thomas was launched from the Glasgow yard of Rennie, Ritchie & Newport (Yard No 376) on 29th August 1922. She measured 130.3′ x 22.6′ x 9.8′ and her tonnage was 311 gross tons, 116 net tons. She was powered by a 2 cylinder compound steam engine by Gauldie, Gillespie & Co. Ltd., delivering 76 rhp. Her official number was 145976.
Built for Thomas Coasters, she operated on various west coast routes until sold to Lamont’s (shipbuilders) of Greenock in early 1935. She is then noted as being owned by a firm of ship owners in Glasgow, Robert Cameron & Company in July 1935, and later that year her name was changed to Kyle Skye, she remained with these owners until her loss.
The Kyle Skye was on a voyage from Campbeltown to Workington in ballast when she ran aground in poor weather at Cleats Beach, on the south coast of the Isle of Arran. The date of the grounding was 25 October 1940 and 4 days later during a strong southerly gale her stern swung onto an adjacent reef and as the tide ebbed she slipped off and was left lying on her port side. The wreck was eventually abandoned and became a constructive total loss, her register was closed in December 1940. We have been unable to trace any mention of lifeboat service for this casualty, nor reference in the general press, and conclude that the crew probably reached safety ashore on Arran.
She was subsequently visited by a salvage contractor, W H Arnott Young of Dalmuir but its not known whether they worked the wreck, as it lay close inshore and surrounded by reefs. The pictures below record their visit to the wreck most probably in the spring of 1941, by which time her timber wheelhouse had been swept away.
The wreck, lies on a very exposed section of coastline, open to strong winds from the west through south to due east. As a result it’s likely the wreck would eventually be broken by the sea rather than human intervention.
The Kyle Skye, which we visited in 1978 is well dispersed, with sections of the wreck on either side of the cleit (dyke). However the main part, the stern section, lies on the west side and still appears to rest on its port side which is buried in the pebble and shingle seabed. Parts of the wreck occasionally show at very low spring tides. The wreck can be located in approximate position 55° 26.417’N, 05° 15.600’W. and is around 100 metres from the shore.
Access to Cleats Beach is via a farm track immediately after Clachaig Farm, half a mile west of Kilmory and is normally signposted on the main road between Kilmory and Blackwaterfoot (A841).
We would like to thank W. Sloan Smith for allowing us to reproduce pictures from his photographic collection which records the work of the ship breaking company – W.H. Arnott Young & Company Ltd., of Dalmuir and Troon.