I cannot trace any archive of records for the various "puffer"
businesses owned by members of the NcNeil family of Greenock. They
appear to have been operating in one form or another from the
late 19th century and between them owned a number of vessels over
the ensuing years including: Colonsay and her replacement Colonsay II, the Sunlight, Na Kiel,
Ardfern, Ashdaleglen, Invergowrie and the little-documented Western. As far as I can trace
most if not all were second hand purchases. They had a heavy
involvement in the sand and gravel dredging business: for sand
they would typically sail their puffers out of Greenock on
the falling tide to ground on the sandbanks in the estuary nearby,
where they would fill their holds using their on-board grab before
refloating on the high tide and steaming off with their cargo to
Greenock, Paisley or Glasgow. Gravel was dredged in the Clyde at the
mouth of the River Kip, where the marina is now located.
As far as I can ascertain, the last of the McNeil business
intetests: the "Western" and "Na Keil" were sold when James McNeil
went bankrupt in the early 50s, and the "Colonsay II", owned by
Alexander McNeil, was sold with his sand and gravel business to
Welsh interests, presumably in the later half of the 1970/early 80s
as this photograph of her at
Greenock is dated 1978.