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Drumloist - a general history


The Drumloist was a steel-construction screw steamer with a gross tonnage of 3118 tons, an underdeck tonnage of 2865 tons, and a net tonnage of 1989 tons. 

Her builders were William Gray & Co., of West Hartlepool.  She was fitted with electric lighting; and possessed 1 steel deck, with, a flat keel, and 6 cemented bulkheads.  Her length is given as 335.0 feet, her breadth as 49.9 feet, and her depth as 21.1 feet; while her poop-deck was 23 feet long, her bridge-deck was 101 feet long, and her forecastle was 28 feet long.

Her triple-expansion 3-cylinder engine was built by the Central Marine Engine Works (CMEW), also of West Hartlepool.  It possessed 2 single-ended boilers, operating at a pressure of 180 lbs per square inch, with 6 ribbed furnaces and developed a nominal 307 horsepower, with an indicated horsepower of 1700.
The Drumloist achieved a speed of 11knots on her trials.

Drumloist’s owners were William Christie & Co. Ltd., of 2 Great Winchester Street, London EC, and she was accordingly Registered in London, continuing in Christie’s ownership for the duration of her career.  However, her Port of Survey (in respect of Lloyd’s insurance of the vessel) is given as Greenock, on the River Clyde.  Her Lloyd’s Official Number was 120602, while her International Code Signal Letters were HDKF.  Her Master is named as Captain J.S. Bailey (sic), who had first been appointed a ship’s master in Christie’s service in 1902, and was then appointed to the Drumloist in 1905, remaining as her Master for the rest of her life.

By the time the following year’s Register was issued (1907-08), the Captain’s surname had been amended to Bailie; and this spelling is retained in subsequent entries. 

Some small indication of the Drumloist’s movements can be obtained from her listed Ports of Survey: The 1907-08 Register records a survey in Glasgow; the 1908-09, one in “Shields” (no distinction is made between North and South Shields); while the 1909-10 and 1911-12 editions each record one in Hartlepool (similarly, the term covers both Hartlepool and West Hartlepool) - this latter volume also notes a special survey carried out at Glasgow in 1909.

In December 1911, she must have been in (or very near to) Ardrossan (a port on the Ayrshire coast, south-west of Glasgow), because there is a mention of her in The Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald. of 22nd December 1911, in their report of a timber-yard fire which had occurred on Monday 18th December.  [Note the spelling of the Captain’s surname.]

TIMBER YARD ABLAZE: Big Fire At Ardrossan

"The biggest conflagration which Ardrossan has witnessed for many years occurred on Monday, when a portion of the timber yard of Messrs Wm. Christie & Co., Ltd., took fire.  The outbreak was first noticed shortly before one o'clock in the afternoon.  Smoke was seen to be issuing from one of the huge piles of sleepers which occupy a large portion of the yard.  A strong south-westerly breeze was blowing, and, although every effort was made to check the blaze, the wind quickly fanned the fire and in a very short time it was apparent that serious damage was inevitable.  In less than half an hour the whole pile, about 80 feet high, was ablaze.  Strenuous efforts were then made to save the adjoining piles, but the sleepers are so heavy and the piles were so high that this was seen to be impracticable.  The Harbour fire brigade was meanwhile working heroically, and ere long the municipal brigade was on the spot.  

The joint efforts of these bodies were, however, of little effect, and, the wind continuing to blow freshly, the fire spread from pile to pile.  About two o'clock the heat of the conflagration had become so intense that the G. & S-W. [Glasgow and South-Western] railway between the town station and the harbour became unworkable, and in course of time the rails began to buckle and twist.  Urgent appeals for help had been sent to Kilmarnock and Glasgow, and the Kilmarnock motor engine and brigade responded promptly to the summons. Early in the evening, unfortunately, the motor engine broke down, and this means of combating the fire was lost.  To make matters worse, the Glasgow engine, which left the city in good time, got stuck in the mud at Montgreenan, so that only the local brigades were during the greater part of the time carrying on the conflict with the flames.  Excellent work was done by both.  The town brigade, in particular, wrought magnificently, and through their efforts the fire was prevented from spreading in a northerly direction.  The Glasgow engine arrived about one o'clock on Tuesday morning by which time the worst of the blaze was over.  The city firemen set to work immediately, and with their powerful pumps all danger of the fire spreading still further was removed.  Until midday they poured water on the fire at the rate of 600 gallons a minute.  

By that time only a smouldering heap of embers remained of the great conflagration.  At one time, owing to the fury of the blaze and the direction of the wind, fears were entertained that some of the buildings in the town might take fire, for pieces of burning timber and multitudes of sparks were blowing over the principal streets.  Valuable assistance was lent by the crew of the Messrs Christie's steamer, the Drumloist, under Captain Baillie, by the police, and by a number of private individuals.  After darkness set in the spectacle presented by the burning timber-yard was magnificent, and large crowds of people gathered at various points of vantage to view it.  The glare was visible at a great distance.  The people on the east side of Arran saw it distinctly, and the cause of the unusual illumination was easily surmised.  On the whole it was fortunate that the wind was south-westerly in direction, for had it blown from the east or from the north a much larger quantity of timber would have been consumed.  As it was, the damage, including that to the railway, which suffered severely, is roughly estimated at a figure not much under £10,000.  Owing to the heat and the destruction of the rails trains could not pass the scene of the fire, and passengers from the Arran boat had to be conveyed to the town station by waggonettes.
On Wednesday afternoon the debris was still smouldering over a large area, and it was deemed advisable again to call out the local brigades.

We are informed that when the Glasgow engine stuck through swerving into the roadside ditch and sinking to the axles in mud, the farmers in the neighbourhood did all in their power to lend assistance and to seek more.  It was through the efforts of Mr Reid of Dykeneuk that a relief engine was brought from Glasgow about midnight, with the result that the fire engine was extricated and enabled to proceed on its way."

In the 1912-13 Lloyd’s Register, occurs mention of her Port of Survey having been Rotterdam [The Netherlands]; and although for the following year the Port of Survey is given as Hartlepool, the 1914-15 edition lists Bergen [Norway]. The latest entry for the Drumloist is in Lloyd’s Register 1915-16. here, her Port of Survey is recorded as Shields, along with the note of a second special survey having been carried out in Hartlepool in 1913.

Drumloist did not survive the first year of World War I.  She sank in the entrance to the White Sea, on the north-west coast of Russia, on June 24th, 1915, after striking a mine believed to have been laid by the German Auxiliary Minelayer SMS Meteor. The ship was on a voyage from Archangelsk / Archangel to London with a cargo of railway sleepers. 


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