Glenboig bricks found on a shipwreck in Lamlash Bay, Holy Isle, Arran, Scotland

Many thanks to Claire Hallybone and Craig Cameron for much of the following information.

Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, Glenboig, Lanarkshire.

Alternative brickworks include:

  • Glenboig Star Fireclay Works, Glenboig, Lanarkshire.
  • Glenboig Fireclay Works, (Old Works) Glenboig, Lanarkshire


08/10/1907 – The loss of the Janet McNicol by Valeman – The Janet McNicol was an Ardrossan registered wooden smack owned by Mr Alexander McNicol of Brodick, Arran. She had been carvel built by Messrs J. & H. Halliday at Rothesay in 1875 and was 42.5 feet in length, 14.8 feet in breadth and had a depth of hold of 6.4 feet, giving her a gross tonnage of 23.15 tons and registered tonnage of 19.49 tons.

On 8th October 1907 at Irvine, the Janet McNicol, loaded a cargo of bricks for Brodick and sailed at 10:00 a.m., under the command of Mr. John B. McNicol, son of the owner. The crew consisting of Neil Stewart, mate, and Alexander Russel, deckhand. The Janet McNicol sailed over to Lamlash Bay where she anchored near the north-west end of Holy Isle, about three hundred yards from the shore. It was a safe anchorage, almost opposite a farmhouse and the farmer, Mr. John McIntyre noted that the master and mate came ashore in the vessel’s small boat around 4:30 p.m. They returned around 7:00 p.m., perfectly sober as both men were total abstainers. Around 9:00 p.m., the farmer notes that the Janet McNicol’s light was visible. She had on board more than two gallons of the best paraffin oil, and properly fitted side lights, as well as a regulation galvanized iron anchor lamp of the best quality. Around 2:05 the following morning, the farmer went down to the slip to check on his boat. It was much darker and there were squalls and he could not see the smack or the light. A Saltcoats fisherman, John Shedden was anchored of King’s Cross and saw the Janet McNicol anchor and also saw the lights of the vessel at 9:00 p.m. and again at 2:00 a.m. as he was on deck with his brother at that time. Later both the farmer and the fishermen saw the mast-head and side lights of a small steamer enter Lamlash Bay from the south.

The steamer was the Belfast registered Glentow, owned by Mr. Hugh McCalmont McGildowny of Ballycastle. Built of steel by Messrs. McArthur & Co., at Paisley in 1905, the Glentow was 108.5 feet in length, 19 feet in breadth with a depth of hold of 8.6 feet and 159.25 gross tons, 59.98 tons net. She had left Prince’s Dock in ballast at 8:00 p.m. under the command of Mr. James Kissack with a crew of six. It was raining and blowing from the north-east and the master decided to see shelter in Lamlash Bay around 2:00 a.m. The Glentow entered the bay from the south around 2:30 and proceeded at 5-6 knots, slowing to 2-3 knots as the point of anchorage was approached. The master was at the wheel and noted that he struck some object on his port bow and could see part of the mast reflect his starboard green light. He stopped and saw the light on the smack. He called out but got no answer. The mate indicated that he saw a light come up from the cabin or forecastle of the smack but after about 15 minutes it was extinguished. A deckhand on the Glentow named Nelson, said he heard some cries but the master did not take any further measures.

At 7 a.m., farmer John McIntyre went out in his boat and discovered about 4 feet of the mast of the Janet McNicol standing above the water but no sign of any wreckage. He went to the Glentow but got no response and then alerted the Coast Guard. A diver was summoned and went down in the afternoon. He saw that the stern and four or five feet of the post quarter had been cut off but was unable to enter the forecastle to ascertain if there were any bodies present.

The subsequent Court of Inquiry found that the loss of the Janet McNicol and the loss of life was due solely to the neglect of the master of the Glentow.

Below – Janet McNicol at Lamlash Quay c.1900.

10/10/1907 – Belfast Newsletter – Supposed loss of two lives. A report was received in Glasgow yesterday that early that morning in Lamlash Bay the smack Janet McNicol, of Ardrossan, had been run down by the Belfast steamer Glentow, and that two young men, the occupants of the smack, had been drowned. The names of the young men are John McNicol and Neil Stewart, and they both resided on the Island Arran. They had been assisting the farmer of Holy Island in the harvest work and returned to the smack at night. Yesterday morning it was seen that the smack had sunk, only her topmast being visible. The farmer crossed Arran and informed the coastguard, who instituted inquiries and ascertained from the master of the Glentow that, in running into the bay for shelter about three o’clock in the morning, he had struck a small vessel, which had no lights visible. Both lads would be in their bunks asleep at the time, and there is little doubt that they were drowned. The punt belonging to the smack was found full of water, as if it had drifted ashore when the smack went down.

11/10/1907 – Northern Whig – Collision off Lamlash. Feared loss of two lives. A shipping disaster of a melancholy nature has occurred in Lamlash Bay. It seems that last week the smack Janet McNicol, of Ardrossan, was brought to anchor in the bay, near the Holy Isle, until the weather would moderate, and the Master, John McNicol, and the seaman, Neil Stewart, landed and assisted in harvest work, returning each evening. On Wednesday morning everybody was amazed to find that the smack had sunk, nothing but her topmast remaining to view. Word was received some time later from Mr Anderson, fisherman. King’s Cross, that he had found the vessel’s punt on the shore, near his house, and fears were entertained that both men had perished. The steamer Glentower (Glentow), Belfast, had also run into the bay in the course of the night for shelter, and the coastguard, who put off to go to the scene of the disaster, ascertained from the captain that on coming to anchor at three o’clock in the morning he had struck the smack, which had no lights that were visible. It is now thought that McNicol and Stewart were in their bunks when the vessel collided and that they went down with the smack.

Below – 28/11/1907 – Formal investigation into the loss of the Janet McNicol … The Janet McNicol, according to the evidence of her owner had a cargo of bricks, loaded at Irvine; for Brocick (Isle of Arran) …

02/12/1907 – Lloyd’s List – The Summary Court of Procedure in connection with the loss of the smack Janet McNicol through collision with the Belfast steamer Glentow, in Lamlash Bay, on Oct. 9. has recently been given. The Court found that the Janet McNicol was at the time of the collision exhibiting a proper anchor light, which was burning brightly; that a good and proper look-out was not kept on board the Glentow; that the collision and the foundering of the Janet McNicol were caused by the smack being run into by the Glentow; that the master of the Glentow did not take proper and sufficient measures to ascertain whether assistance was required and to render it if necessary; and that the serious damage to and loss of the Janet McNicol and the loss of life were caused alone by the neglect of the master of the Glentow. On account of the captain, McKissock, of the Glentow, having no certificate, the Court severely censured him and ordered him to pay £10 towards the cost of the expenses of the inquiry.

Below – Canmore

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