puffers & vics






Builder Wm Burrell
Official Nr 93259
Yard Nr  
Launched 1883
Delivered 1883
Length 66 ft     (1911 to 82.8)
Beam 18.1 ft  (1911 to 18.2)
Gross 70 (1911 to 100 )
Nett 43 (1911 to 51)
Engine steam compound 24nhp

I came across "Beamer" for the first time in the photograph below kindly supplied by Graham Lappin.  It shows her alongside the David MacBrayne paddler "Grenadier" at Oban's North Pier in September 1927 in the aftermath of the fire which gutted the latter, killing her master and another two crew members. Research suggests that she worked most if not all of her life as a diving and salvage lighter, and not in the cargo-carrying role. I think however that she is sufficiently closely related and interesting to merit a place here.

With ON93259 she is listed as having been built at Glasgow in 1883 although I have not yet identified the builder. There were a number of unnamed lighters built around this time and so we may never know which one she was. Her first  known owner was Wm Arrol of Glasgow in 1888. She was subsequently registered in 1890 as being owned by Andrew W Morrice of Liverpool, although still registered at Glasgow. By 1895 she was in the ownership of James Gush of Greenock and registered there. He had her lengthened at Port Glasgow in 1911.

The "Evening Post" of 26th August 1905 reports that "The famous West of Scotland diver James Gush began work at Tobermory on 7th July on the wreck of the ship "Florencia", a treasure ship of the Spanish Armada. The diving operations are aided by the employment of a powerful sand-sucking pump on board the diving lighter "Beamer". The search was apparently fairly fruitful with a number of artefacts being recovered.

Not long afterwards, on 29th August 1905, the "Glasgow Herald" reported that "Mr James Gush, diver, Greenock, who purchased the wrecked steamer Glendale left Greenock yesterday in his steamer Beamer to carry out salvage work on the vessel". (the paddle steamer Glendale had stranded near Deas Point on the Mull of Kintyre on 20th July. More information here in the RCAHMS records).

The next activity I've traced for the "Beamer" and James Gush was salvage work on the wreck of the Cunard steamer "Aurania" near Calgary Bay on Mull. "Aurania" had been torpedoed by U-67 off Co. Donegal  on 27 January 1918 while en route from Liverpool to New York and was taken in tow for the Clyde but broke free in a gale and became stranded at Calaich Point on 4th February 1918. I don't know exactly when "Beamer" worked this wreck but presumably not too long afterwards.

What she was employed on between then and 1927 when we see her alongside the burned-out Grenadier at Oban I don't yet know but I will keep on researching what has clearly been an interesting little ship.

A ClydeMaritime member reports an MNL entry for her in 1936 but that is the last reference anyone can find of her and as there doesn't appear to be a wreck record for her we might assume that she ended her days courtesy of the breaker's torch, maybe even Mr Gush's own!

An interesting and as yet unidentified wee steam launch or workboat in the foreground.


Photograph courtesy of Graham Lappin