Built as a steel general cargo steamship, first launched in January 1907 from the yard of Osbourne & Graham & Co., Sunderland. Physical dimensions were 279.3′ x 40.1′ x 18.1’ and net tonnage of 1162t. Powered by a single triple expansion steam engine delivering 190 nhp and manufactured by Richardson, Westgarth & Co Ltd., Sunderland.
In her short seventeen year career the Marjorie Seed was renamed five times and had six owners. Her original owners, British Maritime Trust Ltd. of West Hartlepool, who launched her as Westhampton in 1907, sold her within the year to Furness Withy & Company. They in turn sold her to the Anglo Hellenic Steamship Company Ltd. of Greece who named her Elli in 1909. She returned to West Hartlepool, Furness Withy and her original name only a year later. In 1913 she was sold to J. Gaff & Company, Glasgow, who sailed her for two years under the name Amphion. She then spent nine years from 1915 to 1924 under the ownership of the Kelvin Shipping Company as the Baron Cathcart before being sold to her final owners, the Seed Shipping Company of Newcastle, who named her Marjorie Seed.
As she left Rothesay Dock, Clydebank for her voyage to Huelva with a cargo of coal and coke on 26th December, 1924 the weather was fair. The weather remained clear as she passed the Cumbraes and headed south towards Ayr. It is therefore a mystery why, a few hours later, she ran aground off the north east tip of Lady Isle. No satisfactory explanations have been given for this serious error in navigation on a clear, calm day but, around 6pm, her radio distress calls were picked up at Troon. Soon a lifeboat and a tug were alongside the half submerged steamer, picking up most of the twenty four crew. Four of the crew remained aboard to inspect the damage and were taken off later to report water four feet deep in the engine room.
At this stage it was hoped that she could be raised but fate and the unpredictable Scottish winter weather were to take a hand, as the wreck was battered by a severe south west gale for the next week until all hope of successful refloating had vanished. An underwater inspection in early February revealed that the Marjorie Seed was badly holed in her port side, her keel buckled and her stern post broken. She was obviously a total wreck. She was extensively salvaged over the ensuing months and years until nothing of any significant value remained on the seabed.
The Wreck Today
An interesting aspect of the story of the Marjorie Seed is that, for many years, she was the unwitting victim of a case of mistaken identity. Nearby lies the wreck of the SS Ahdeek which had been known as the Marjorie Seed until, in 1987, the two wrecks were positively identified by the discovery of the maker’s plate on the Ahdeek and a bell bearing the inscription Westhampton on the Marjorie Seed.
The wreck of the Marjorie Seed lies in approximate position 55° 31.869’N, 04° 43.826’W (GPS) in a general depth of 7-9 metres. The remains are spread over a wide area of rock and shingle seabed and provide an interesting, if not spectacular, shallow dive over broken plates and girders. The wreckage rises only a metre or so from the uneven seabed.