Current / Last Route
Ministry of War (Transport)
A sea loch on the North West coast of Scotland near Ullapool
Scott & Sons Ltd, Bowling
British Polar Engines Ltd.
2 SCSA 5 cyls. 9 3/16”-16 9/16” (made and fitted 1948).
Hoist & Lifts:
Unknown: Glasgow - Islay / Portree
Unknown: Oban - Various Islands (Sheep Transport)
The longest-serving MacBrayne cargo- inherited by the Scottish Transport Group was the single-screw LOCHBROOM, built during the Second World War and in the Company's service since 1948. Until the advent of the modern car ferry these cargo-vessels – all based at Glasgow and venturing out by the Firth of Clyde – served a host of Hebrides and far-flung West Highland communities, carrying fencing, agricultural equipment, bolls of this and crates of that and pretty well anything that could not be consigned to the post. Each could also take a few passengers, though facilities were inevitably limited and their voyages, naturally, could be inordinately long.
When MacBrayne's acquired the EMPIRE MAYSONG, built by Messrs Scott & Sons at Bowling during the war but never completed, it was with a view to putting the coaster on the weekly Glasgow-Stornoway cargo run. Peacetime had left the EMPIRE MAYSONG forlorn; she had originally been commissioned by the Ministry of War (Transport) and of a standard “C” type of which 39 had been built – 23 with diesel engines and 16 powered by steam. With two masts and derricks for two holds, EMPIRE MAYSONG would have served King and Country in the Far East. Instead the advent of peace had found her still incomplete, without the triple-expansion steam engines for which she had been designed.
She was also given new funnels of wider diameter at that refit, but the Parsons turbines – the port set ran on quadruple expansion; the starboard set at triple expansion ahead and both identically astern – hummed on to the end. Turbine steamers like KING GEORGE V, while not quite as manoeuvrable as their paddle contemporaries, were wonderfully smooth and vibration-free in operation and ideal for the pleasure cruising of their day.
MacBrayne's towed their new acquisition to Ardrossan, stripped her of her superstructure (the original bridge was very close to the bow, not a Company feature) and fitted her out as a cargo and livestock carrier for their West Highland services. An internal-combustion engine was installed, too, supplied by British Polar Engines Ltd. The lucky LOCHBROOM also acquired the latest cargo-handling equipment and the crews' accommodation was, by MacBrayne standards of the time, of an exceptionally high order.
She was never, in fact, assigned to the Stornoway service; G E Langmuir records that she made her first voyage to Islay and Portree, “and proved most successful.” Later she was based at Oban during the sheep-sales season. And that was pretty well it for the next twenty-odd years – relief at Islay and landing island sheep at Oban.
LOCHBROOM saw little service under STG ownership and was discarded before the advent of CalMac in 1973. Sold in July 1971 to Focomar Shipping Co. Ltd, and renamed FOCOMAR, she left for Piraeus on 14th August 1971. She was lost in Greek waters when she grounded and sank, north-west of Andros Island, on 19th September 1974.