The iron steamship Victoria was launched from the Pallion yard of Short Brothers Ltd. (Yard No 132) in 1882. She 290.6′ x 40.1′ x 20.2′ and her tonnage was 2128 gross tons, 1397 net tons. She was powered by a compound steam engine by J Dickinson, Sunderland delivering 200 registered horse power. She was built for Mr J W Taylor of Sunderland who transferred her ownership to the Taylor and Sanderson Steamship Co Ltd in 1889. She operated from her base in Sunderland on both Transatlantic and North Sea routes.
In February 1891 she loaded a cargo of 1500 tons of sugar and 350 tons of further general cargo and departed for Sunderland under the command of Captain J Harrison who had a crew of twenty two men and thirteen passengers aboard. After a stopover in her home port she left for New York on 25th February. On 27th she passed safely through the Pentland Firth and headed out into the Atlantic but, when she was about sixty miles north west of the Butt of Lewis, they encountered a strong west south west gale which created mountainous swells running directly on their bow. At 1am on 1st March the vessel dropped into a particularly deep trough and a huge wave slammed into the ship staving in her bunker hatches and stripping the flaps on the port side engine room skylight. As a result she took on a considerable amount of water which extinguished the fire for the starboard boiler and flooded various other compartments below deck. The crew scrambled to re-seal the various openings but, although this was done successfully, she was now severely disabled.
With the terrible weather continuing, Captain Harrison struggled to keep her under some control and finally the port boiler fire also flooded and the ship was left without power. A sail was rigged to give them some control as she drifted back eastwards driven by the strong winds from the west. Using this Harrison hoped to guide his ship through the Pentland Firth and reach some shelter off the Scottish east coast. At 2am on 2nd the drifted past Cape Wrath and soon after the SS Byphorst approached her but was unable to offer any assistance as the huge swell continued to buffet both vessels leaving Victoria to drift on. By the afternoon of the 3rd the wind had veered to the north driving Victoria towards Dunnet Head. The Longhope lifeboat reached the ship but again was unable to render much assistance. At 5:30pm Victoria’s port lifeboat was lowered but it immediately capsized. By 7pm the starboard lifeboat was safely lowered and the passengers and crew were able to disembark and reach the Longhope lifeboat which had been standing by and were then taken to South Ronaldsay. The abandoned Victoria then drifted ashore at Skarfskerry where she became a total wreck.
Presumably the wreck was substantially salvaged at a later date but some scattered wreckage still remain in water up to 12 metres deep in approximate position 58° 39.133’N, 003° 16.750’W four hundred metres west of Scarfskerry Haven.