Launched from the yard of Fleming and Ferguson Ltd of Paisley on 31st July 1890 the Imogen was an elegant, luxurious twin-masted schooner rigged steamship with a single single funnel midships. She measured 165.5′ x 24.1′ x 14.1′ and weighed 330 gross tons, 156 net tons.
She was ordered by the wealthy Australian J. R. Wood as a wedding present for his bride, the famous actress Elizabeth Jennings. Most of her fittings were solid brass, and even her toilets were highly decorated with blue flowers in the lavatory and around the china wash-basins. Despite the luxury of her design and her fittings she was also a very good sea boat and ideal for cruising among the Western Isles. A series of other owners followed – each one changed her name, so she became successively Lord Byron in 1891, Katoomba in 1892, Tighnamara in 1894 and finally Verona in 1895. In the early 1890’s her engines were updated by Bow Mclachlan of Paisley with the installation of a state of the art 4 cylinder quadruple expansion steam engine which provided 140 nhp. Even as Verona she continued to change owners until, in November 1914, when she was the property of Hugh Andrews (Warkworth Shipping) of Newcastle she was hired by the Admiralty for war duties.
HM Auxiliary Yacht Verona was ordered to take up anti-submarine patrol duties off the east coast of Scotland from a base in the Moray Firth. There she was equipped to attack any U-boat she might meet, with small guns on her counter-stern and two more at the bow, near her long bowsprit. Later she was modified to take a single depth-charge, which was simply rolled over her stern. She was never to use the guns or her depth-charge against any of the big mine-laying UC-class boats which were sinking large numbers of Allied ships in minefields laid off the Scottish coast.
On February 24th, 1917, Verona herself was sunk when she hit by a mine laid by the German submarine UC-33 commanded by Kapitanleutnant Martin Schelle, off Portmahomack, Easter Ross. She sank in less than a minute, she took 23 crew with her including her Captain, Charles Peter Wilson.
The broken wreck of the Verona lies in 40 metres in position 57° 51.649’N, 03° 38.592’W. While the wreck is well broken, her bowsprit and bow are still visible lying with a heavy list to starboard. Midships just forward a major break in the hull, probably the result of the explosion when the Verona hit the German mine, the engines and boilers are also well preserved. The sleek lines of the luxury yacht are also visible at the well preserved, sweeping undercut stern.