Current / Last Route
David MacBrayne Ltd.
The Loch she was built to serve on in the Moidart area.
J Barr & Son (Craigendoran) Ltd, Dumbarton
Bergius Kelvin Co. Ltd., Glasgow.
Kelvin Diesel, Type K3 - 1 Oil 4 SCSA 3 Cy 6” x 9”.
Hoist & Lifts:
1953 - 1962: Loch Shiel Service
1962 - 1970: Iona Tender
Until late in 1967 there was no road from Lochailort to Acharacle, on the West Invernesshire mainland, and access to the latter community was difficult and most readily achieved by entraining for Glenfinnan (on the Mallaig railway) and then sailing down Loch Shiel by launch. In 1951, following a recommendation by the Highlands & Islands Advisory Panel, the authorities invited David MacBrayne Ltd to assume this service in succession to the weary operatives of the Loch Shiel Steamboat Service Co. Ltd. MacBraynes had last run a ship on the enclosed freshwater loch in 1897!
An order was duly placed with Messrs Barr in January 1953 for two motor launches and the first – launched as ROSALIND – was completed in October 1953.She sailed by way of the Crinan Canal and the Sound of Mull to Salen on Loch Sunart and was then taken overland to Loch Shiel. She was launched there with some difficulty but on 28th October made her first trip to Glenfinnan and back.
Her name, however, went down like a concrete kite (as did that of CELIA, proposed for her sister on the stocks at Dumbarton.) After consultation, the Company hastily redubbed her LOCHSHIEL.
She was much faster than her predecessor, the little steamer CLANRANALD II (1900) and could do the 18-mile passage in two hours. Certified for 75 passengers on this service, she could also handle cargo and even cattle as required. Designed by Messrs G L Watson & Co, Naval Architects, Glasgow, LOCHSHIEL was built with heavy scantlings and was planked with mahogany on oak frames, and oak centre-framing. She was sheathed in galvanised steel sheeting around the waterline for working in in ice – a frequent, winter hazard on Loch Shiel – and was further protected by strong belting. There were passenger seats in the forward cabin and more on each side of her cargo space. The engine of LOCHSHIEL was a Kelvin Diesel type K.3, with electric starter and bilge pump.
Like most of the MacBrayne small craft her hull was painted red – though her cabins were varnished teak – and LOCHSHIEL also bore a small mast.
After nearly a decade on Loch Shiel she was restored to saltwater service in June 1962, first being refitted at Shandon (where she lost her mast and cabin) and then being stationed at Iona, where she served as cargo-boat from Fionnphort and also tendered to KING GEORGE V.
LOCHSHIEL might have enjoyed many years of service but for alarming mishap. While sailing from Ardrishaig to Gareloch for overhaul on 28th April 1970, she was run down and sunk by an unidentified vessel – her crew, mercifully, all being rescued.