Introduction, Vessels, Diving, Anecodotes.
Precursor was Liverpool Underwriters' Association - from 1827 or earlier.
First mention of a salvage committee [from Northern Daily Times - Friday 01 May 1857]: Dock Committee: A letter was read from Mr. Court, secretary of the Liverpool Committee of the Association for the Protection of Commercial Interests, with regard to wrecks and damaged property, thanking the dock committee for having carried out so promptly the suggestions of the committee for facilitating the communication between steamtugs and vessels in want of their assistance.
The Liverpool Salvage Association was established in 1857 by a Committee of Liverpool-based shipowners, merchants, and underwriters. Famous names from the world of shipping including Holt, Brocklebank and Papayanni were included in the list of founders. Their objective was to promote dispatch and economy in the salving of ships and their cargoes. Experts were employed by the Committee who traveled across the globe to reach casualties and protect the interests of those concerned. In 1887, the Liverpool committee was incorporated as the Liverpool Association for the Protection of Commercial Interests as respects Wrecked and Damaged Property.
The Liverpool Salvage Association was using diving equipment for salvage activities by 1866 and in 1873 the first of a series of salvage vessels was purchased.
The Liverpool & Glasgow Salvage Association was formed on 1 January 1924 from the merger of the Liverpool Salvage Association and the Glasgow Salvage Association. The Association can trace its origins back to 1857 with the creation of the Liverpool Salvage Association and the Glasgow Salvage Association.
First newspaper mention of Liverpool Salvage association is in 1867. In December 1868 they offered for sale the wreck of the iron ship Lydia Williams (in December 1867), raised and placed in Holyhead harbour. In 1875 they were advertising a demonstration of diving equipment at Liverpool.
[from Liverpool Daily Post - Saturday 28 March 1868]:
THE SUCCESSFUL RAISING OF THE LYDIA WILLIAMS AT HOLYHEAD. It will remembered that on the 1st Dec. last, a fearful storm visited these coasts, which proved highly disastrous to shipping at Holyhead. Amongst the ships that foundered at Holyhead was the fine ship Lydia Williams, belonging to Councillor Maurice Williams, and called after his lady. The Williams had a valuable cargo of 1800 tons on board from Liverpool for San Francisco, and owing to a strong north wind she dragged her anchors, and foundered on rocks within the harbour of refuge at Holyhead; and the 31 hands and passengers were saved at great risk by the Holyhead lifeboat. After four months of fruitless attempts, and not until almost all the cargo had been got out of the ship, late on Thursday evening, by the assistance of two powerful tugs and five steam pumps, in the presence of Mr. Rundle and Capt. Chisholme, of the Liverpool Underwriters' Association; Mr. Wield and Mr. Nesbit, of the Glasgow Underwriters' Association; and Capt. Jones, Lloyd's agent, Holyhead, Mr. Williams, the contractor, succeeded in raising the Lydia Williams, and had her moved towards the beach five lengths. It is confidently believed that at the next spring tides she will be brought clean on the sands, and enable the making of the necessary repairs to be made.
[from The North Wales Chronicle and Advertiser for the Principality, 18th April 1868]:
A FEAT OF ART AND SCIENCE. We have already chronicled the disasters of Sunday, Dec. 1st, of last year, when this harbour witnessed several distressing shipwrecks, and amongst them the foundering of the fine ship Lydia Williams, from Liverpool to San Francisco. After four months preparations, which were on a gigantic scale, the discharging of fourteen to sixteen hundred tons of cargo of a valuable description, &c., Tuesday week at last saw the ship once more above water, and she was towed to the Old Harbour, where a portion of the cargo from her fore part will again be discharged, when she will be overhauled prior to her being repaired. A partially successful attempt was made to raise her ten days previously, which is thus described to the Underwriters. The former attempt gives a vivid example of the two elements - air and water - in antagonism. The three Liverpool pumps were in the two after hatches, and worked splendidly immediately the tide allowed them to begin. Next were two of the Glasgow pumps, fixed in the main hatch, with the engines fixed in a lighter alongside the vessel. After some delay in getting to work they did good duty. Next were the other two Glasgow pumps, stationed just at the break of the poop, the engines also in a lighter. These were to assist in clearing the water off the main deck, and did their work well, considering their small power. The Wonder's pump was placed on the forecastle, and worked in a weak way with a small boiler belonging to the contractor. It helped, however, to clear the decks of water, and was afterwards placed in the hold. The water in the hold decreased rapidly, and we were all in high spirits, as it was evident that a fair trial was being made, and with prospect of success. Shortly after low water the ship very quietly righted herself from a list of 11 deg. to about 7 or 8 deg., and she soon after gave signs of swinging, as it were on a pivot - first to starboard and then very considerably to port, the stern gradually lifting more and more out of the water as wind and tide acted upon her. The agents thought it prudent to commence towing, so the Wonder tug and the contractor's steamer were both put to work to pull her astern, Captain Jones, a pilot, and the assistant harbour master directing how they were to pull, &c. After going a short distance she hung for about two hours and then went astern again for a while, when she stuck fast. At the best she drew about 30 feet forwad and easily 14 feet aft. The water in the vessel kept settling to the bow, and about nine o'clock, p.m., it was evident she could go no further, and that she must fill as the tide came up to her bulwarks. All hands were cautioned to be on the look out about 9.20, and in less than five minutes she went down, all of a sudden, the air rushing up through the fore hatch with a sound like steam being let off. There was a general scramble in the dark - some getting into boats, others up the rigging. One boat was sent bodily over the rail with the rush of the water, and capsized upon the men who were in her. In the darkness it was difficult to ascertain who were in safety, but after a few anxious minutes all hands were mustered, and none found missing. On examination it was found that the forecastle was more than a foot above water, that the poop was about two feet under water, and the vessel sitting, as shown by the masta, very nearly upright. On going off to her at five o'clock this morning we found her further in the bay, and towards Salt Island, than was expected, and to have shoaled her water more than ten feet. At low water her deck was four feet free on the starboard side, and three feet on the port side, her head in almost the same direction as before, and the water one foot ten inches higher inside the vessel than outside.
[from Liverpool Daily Post - Tuesday 01 December 1868]:
Iron Ship LYDIA WILLIAMS, 1175 tons register. Built at Middlesbro'-on-Tees Septemher, 1863, and then classed A1 at Lloyd's and 20 years in Red in Liverpool Underwriter's Registry. This ship will be sold (together with her sails, rigging, spars, chains, and anchors) as she now lies in her damaged state, after having been raised by the Liverpool Salvage Association and placed in Holyhead Harbour.
[from Lloyd's List - Monday 06 June 1904]: I have also received a detailed account of numerous and important cases of salvage executed by the Liverpool Salvage Association, who last year alone dealt with 453 vessels, including one sunk in Dingle Bay from which cotton was saved worth about £35,000, and another sunk in the Mersey, floated and docked in six days, valued with cargo at nearly £50,000. This association, which owns the Ranger, and has recently acquired the Linnet, is not worked for private profit, any that is made being devoted to the improvement of its appliances or the reduction of its charges.
Vessels listed as owned by LSA:
Ranger 1894-1925, then L & G SA to 1954
Lady Kate 1913-1921
They also chartered other vessels as required - see Lionel George.
They also used steamers belonging to George Rodrigues, such as Aggravator and Zephyr, which seem to have been involved in salvage and ship-breaking. He was also listed as the owner of HMS Express, lost 1889 while being towed to Liverpool, for breaking.
Another salvage company (Independence Marine) was based at Liverpool, active 1878-1889, salvage vessel Recovery [see below].
Yet another Liverpool salvage steamer was Gleaner (ex-Hawarden Castle) owned Gibney from 1892 - details here.
See also general article about salvage vessels. This source states that HMS Mariner (b 1884) and Reindeer (b 1883, ON 151081) were lent to LSA from 1917 until 1922, 1924 respectively [not in MNL]. Also HMS Melita (b 1888) was owned by L&GSA from 1927-37 (as Restorer, registered Falmouth, ON 137212).
Wooden steamer Hyaena, built Mare, 1856, Blackwall, as a HM Gunboat, Albacore class, with 4 guns, 232 tons (bm), 60hp screw engines by J Penn. Sold 1870 - bought at Liverpool by W Jolliffe in 1871, ON 63262. Reported in newspapers as in use as a salvage steamer for Liverpool Salvage Association by 1874. Owner listed as R Dale to 1885, then Liverpool Salvage Association. Sold for breaking 1903.
[from Shipping and Mercantile Gazette - Monday 07 February 1870]:
By Order of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. At LLOYD'S CAPTAINS' ROOM., ROYAL EXCHANGE, On THURSDAY. FEBRUARY 24, 1870, at Half past Two o'clock. ... Also. H.M. Screw Gunboat HYAENA, 236 tons B.M.; built Blackwall, by Messrs. Mare and Co., in 1856; copper-fastened and sheathed with copper; fitted with a pair of horizontal direct acting trunk engines of 60 h.p., by Messrs. Jno. Penn and Son. and tubular boilers made by H.M. Factory, Keyham, in 1865. Now lying Devonport. ...
[from Shipping and Mercantile Gazette - Friday 07 August 1874]:
Zelda (s) ...(wrecked on Maiden Bower, the north westernmost islet of Scilly, in April last)... The Liverpool Salvage Association have their gunboat Hydra [sic: Hyaena] working at the salving, a vessel admirably adapted for the work.
[from Liverpool Journal of Commerce - Thursday 07 January 1875, also 24 Oct 1874]:
Hyaena SS, 73 tons, Newton [master], Liverpool Salvage Ass., Birkenhead [Dock]
[from Liverpool Daily Post - Thursday 03 June 1875]:
Belfast. June 2. The Liverpool Salvage Association's wrecking steamer Hyaena has arrived from Dundrum, with a second cargo of greenheart from the wreck of the Donna Maria.
[from Liverpool Daily Post - Thursday 26 February 1880]:
The Steamer Anatolian, The Liverpool Salvage Association report as follows: Further salvage recovered yesterday, and landed by the Hyaena, ..... also brought in by the Aggravator, ...
[from Liverpool Mercury - Monday 21 April 1884]:
The Liverpool Salvage Association report having received the following message from Captain Fowler: Pera ashore three cables' length from the Rock Lighthouse, bearing SE by E; bottom level; grounded at 5:45am; Have Hyaena and Aggravator, with all hands, here. Captain will not act without instructions from owners.
[from Liverpool Shipping Telegraph and Daily Commercial Advertiser -
Friday 23 July 1897]:
The Liverpool Salvage Association have had their salving steamer Hyaena employed for several months at the wreck of the steamer Angloman, on the Skerries, off the Anglesey Coast. During the period almost everything movable, by means of the Hyena, has been salved and taken to Holyhead. The association is new inviting all who care to try their hands at wreck-lifting to tender for the floating of the hull of the wrecked steamer. Considering the exposed position of the wreck, whoever undertakes the task will certainly be taking on a large order. The "No cure, no pay " rate of remuneration, upon which the tenders are to be based, is not likely to cause the list of applicants to be a very lengthy one.
[from Liverpool Journal of Commerce - Tuesday 17 November 1903]:
MESSRS. KELLOCKS will offer by Auction, on Thursday, 19th November, at Twelve o'clock, in their Saleroom, Water-street, Livepool (if not previously disposed of by private treaty), The Steamer HYAENA, Formerly a Gunboat in HM Service: 110 tons gross register. Originally built of oak of extra strength for use in the British Navy, at London, 1856, and was copper and metal fastened. Is partly sheathed in yellow metal. High pressure engines 60 r.h.p.; two cylinders 16in. diameter; New boiler in 1884; Dimensions: Length 106.3 feet; breadth 23 feet; draft 7 feet. The vessel will be sold as she lies in the Albert Dock Liverpool with dynamo on board. Purchasers will be required to give an undertaking to break her up within a reasonable time.
Composite (teak and steel) screw steamer Ranger, built John Elder, Govan, 1880, as an Algerine class gunboat, 835 tons (disp), 3 guns, sold 1892 to Liverpool Salvage Association, registered Liverpool 1893, 157.5 x 29.5 x 14.4 ft, 26nrt, 408 grt, 131 hp. ON 102075. Re-engined 1902. Register closed 1954 when scrapped at Liverpool.
Liverpool Mercury - Saturday 03 September 1892]:
In the dock above alluded to there is at the present time a curious-looking craft, which has a lately excited a considerable amount of interest. It is, or rather was, HMS Ranger, a composite gunboat, built in 1880 by Messrs. J. Elder and Co., of 835 tons displacement. She has been purchased by the Liverpool Salvage Assciation, who are about to convert the vessel into a salvage steamer. Before being sold the Ranger was laid up at Plymnonth, from which place she was towed in a dismantled condition to Liverpool. Mastless, and her bulwarks on each side studded from stem to stern with substantial looking iron davits, the Ranger presents a very remarkable appearance. She appears, however, to have that very essential factor in a salvage vessel - a strong and well-built hull and when fitted with powerful masts and derricks should make a very serviceable salvage boat for heavy work. It is to be hoped that her large proportions will not interfere with her handiness, as these salvage vessels often have to poke their noses into places where a fairly large vessel could not be navigated with safety.
[from Lloyd's List - Friday 13 May 1904]:
THE LIVERPOOL SALVAGE STEAMER RANGER. There is at present lying in the Thames, off the Tower Battery, the salvage steamer Ranger, belonging to the Liverpool Salvage Association, on whose quarterdeck yesterday a representative party of London underwriters and others were entertained at luncheon. The visitors were conducted over the vessel in three parties, directed respectively by the secretary, Mr. Rundell, Captain Young, and the chief engineer, and these gentlemen spared no pains in explaining the numerous salvage appliances with which the Ranger is equipped. Formerly the British gunboat Ranger (sister ship to the Condor, of Alexandria fame), this vessel has a gross tonnage of 400 tons, and is propelled by triple-expansion engines of 1000 i.h.p. Steam is generated in two large single-ended boilers working at a pressure of 185 lb. per square inch. These engines can drive the vessel at a speed of 12 knots, with 130 revolutions. The Ranger is composite built with two thicknesses of teak and steel frames, and is steel lined throughout, so that she can go alongside a wreck without fear of puncture. She has two steel masts of double thickness, and is equipped with powerful derricks, four of which are capable of lifting 30 tons each. Perhaps the most notable feature of her equipment is the six portable steam pumps. Each of these pumps can be taken out of the Ranger, and, with a portable boiler and the necessary gear, be installed on board a stranded vessel, and worked quite independently of the salvage steamer. The 12-inch portable pump has a capacity of 803 tons of water per hour, and the total outfit of pumps on board is capable of dealing with 4,500 tons per hour. An air compressor, compressing the air to 100 lb. per square inch, is fitted in the engine room. and supplies the necessary power for the numerous cutting and drilling pneumatic tools which can be used either above water or by the divers below. One such tool is the Boyer pneumatic hammer, which is especially useful for cutting away the jagged ends of a steamer's damaged plating, so that a strong wooden patch can be fitted over the gash. The pneumatic tools, which were supplied by the Consolidated Pneumatic Tool Company, can be used by divers when working at a distance from the Ranger, the power being transmitted by strong rubber pipes. There are powerful winches fitted on the deck, together with a complete series of steel hawsers and extra strong anchors for warping purposes. As salvage work has to be carried on night and day, when weather permits, an electric installation is a practical necessity. The Ranger has a dynamo with a voltage of 65, which supplies the fixed and portable searchlights, the submarine lights, arc lights, and cargo clusters. The Ranger has been described as the most up-to-date and serviceable salvage steamer afloat, and she leaves on Tuesday with the steamer Linnet in tow for Liverpool.
SS Ranger as a salvage vessel
Photo of SS Ranger above the wreck of the Oceana engaged in salvage
operations [from Sphere - Saturday 06 July 1912]
Steel (also described as composite) screw steamer Linnet, built Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding, Blackwall, 1880, as Linnet class gunboat, 5 guns, 788 tons (displ), sold to Liverpool Salvage Association 1904-1921, registered Liverpool 1905, 165.0 x 29.0 x 13.0, 34nrt, 426 grt, 205 hp, ON 120835. Owned John Houston 1923 when register closed, scrapped.
[excerpts from Lloyd's List - Friday 13 May 1904]:
The CHAIRMAN, in proposing the toast ... said they were probably all aware that the Liverpool Salvage Association had recently purchased H.M.S. Linnet, now lying at Sheerness, and the Ranger would tow her round to Liverpool..... Their new steamer, the Linnet, was nearly as large as the Ranger, but she had a draught of water two feet less, and would therefore be able to deal with more cases than the Ranger. With those two vessels they would be able to satisfy all the demands that might be made upon them.
[from Liverpool Journal of Commerce - Thursday 22 December 1904]:
The Ailsa Shipbuilding Company, Troon, are proceding apace with the necessary alterations to the Liverpool Salvage Association's steamer Linnet. She was formerly a British war vessel before the association acquired her, and it is expected that the alterations to permit of her being engaged in her new mission in life will be completed next month. When she is in commission, the plant of the association, with the Ranger and the Linnet, will be rendered all the better able to cope with the immense volume of business entrusted to it.
Iron screw steamer Plover, built John Reid, Port Glasgow 1881, 122.4 x
22.5 x 10.8 ft, 59nrt, 216 grt, 98hp, 2 screws, ON 73764. First registered
Fleetwood as Fylde in 1881, 59 tons. Name changed to Plover when owned
by Liverpool Salvage association 1905 - 1909, sold to S. Shields 1910
for use as a tug. Loaned to Royal Navy 1914-20, as Peewit. Broken up
Image available here.
[from Lloyd's List - Wednesday 11 January 1905]:
CHANGE OF SHIP'S NAME. We the Liverpool Association for the Protection of Commercial Interests as respects Wrecked and Damaged Property (LIVERPOOL SALVAGE ASSOCIATION), having recently bought the steamer Fylde, beg to give NOTICE that we have received PERMISSION from the BOARD OF TRADE to CHANGE the afore-mentioned ship's NAME to that of the PLOVER, registered at Liverpool. N. RUNDELL, Junr. Secretary. Dated at Liverpool, Jan. 7,1905
[from Lloyd's List - Monday 01 February 1909]:
LIVERPOOL SALVAGE ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING. The fifty-second annual meeting of the Liverpool Salvage Association was held on Friday last.... Report about raising HMS Gadiator: .... The services of the steamers Ranger and Plover were invaluable, and the steamer Enterprise, the latest addition to the association's fleet, proved her fitness for the work for which she was purchased.
Wooden screw steamer Enterprise, built Yarwood, Northwich 1904, owned Henry Seddon, then Liverpool Salvage Association from 1908. Registered Liverpool 1904, ON 118083, 93.4 x 21.6 x 10.0 ft, 89nrt, 160grt, 28 hp. Sold to Mersey Bunkering 1912, foundered off Ribble 1913.
[from Isle of Wight County Press - Saturday 17 October 1908]:
Gladiator Disaster. On Saturday last the Liverpool Salvage Association's steamers Ranger and Enterprise came back to Yarmouth, the former having on board Capt Young, who had returned from Portsmouth, after having succeeded in his great salvage task. He landed at Yarmonth and returned to his temporary quarters at the Pier Hotel. During the week a party of salvage men have been engaged in removing gear and appliances used for the refloating of the sunken cruiser.
Wooden screw steamer Lady Kate, built William Thomas, Millom, 1881, of oak, 99.7 x 21.9 x 9.8 ft, 53 nrt, 135 grt, 30 hp by De Winton. ON 74758. Owned Millom, Caernarfon, Liverpool. In 1903 owned Gibney at Liverpool for use as a salvage steamer. Owned Liverpool Salvage Association 1913 - 1921. Later other owners at Liverpool, broken up 1948.
[from Liverpool Mercury - Saturday 11 October 1884]:
On Thursday next, 16th October, at a quarter-past Twelve o'clock, at the Saleroom, Exchange-buildings, Rumford-street, Liverpool (unless previously disposed of by private treaty). The handsome wood Screw-Steamer LADY KATE, 136 tons gross and 78 tons net register. Built of best materials at Duddon in 1881, specially for carrying the heaviest cargoes, and classed A1 for twelve years at Lloyd's; compound engines of 50 b.p, by De Winton, cylinders 14 and 27 inches stroke, carries 180 tons, will take the ground with any cargo, and steams nine miles on a consumption of 3 cwt.; just off patent slip, where she has undergone her annual survey, and is now in first-rate order. Length, 93 feet 7-10; breadth, 21 feet 9-10; depth, 9 feet 8-10. Lying at Carnarvon. For further particulars, apply to JOHN HUGHES & Co., Ship Salesmen, Auctioneers, and Valuers, 13, Tower-buildings, Old Churchyard, Liverpool.
[from Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette - Monday 03 August 1903]:
Liverpool salvage steamers Lady Kate and Gleaner [ON 76558, ex-Hawarden Castle] lifted the Tiger further up on the mud bank on Saturday night, and yesterday afternoon she was pumped dry and afloat between the two vessels ready to be taken into the Old West Graving Dock.
Another salvage company based at Liverpool: active 1878-1889.
Iron twin-screw steamer Recovery, built Barrow Shipbuilding Co, 1878, 255nrt, 485grt, 176 x 14.75 ft, ON 68129, owned Independence Marine Salvage and Steam Pump Company of Liverpool. Registered Dover. Used as a tug and salvage steamer. When the Independence Company was bankrupt in 1889, offered for sale and bought by McBrayne and registered at Glasgow, renamed Flowerdale. Broken up 1904, when her engines were transferred to two small steamers.
[from Shipping and Mercantile Gazette - Tuesday 04 July 1876]:
INDEPENDENCE MARINE SALVAGE AND STEAM PUMP COMPANY (limited). Office: 3, Chapel-street; Yard: 20, Bath-street, LIVERPOOL. SHIPS and CARGOES RECOVERED in all PARTS of the WORLD; the most improved Steam Salvage Appliances, such as Tugs, Barges, Water and Air Pumps, also an efficient staff of Divers, &c, kept ready for hire or otherwise.
LEAKY VESSELS TAKEN to PORT of DESTINATION without disturbing cargo. From such ports as Rio de Janeiro, Valparaiso, St. Helena, and St. Thomas, without any additional risk to either ship or cargo. CONTRACTS for all kinds of salvage work where practical. PETER MADDOX, Secretary.
[from Liverpool Mercury - Saturday 09 February 1878]:
LAUNCH OF AN IRON SCREW STEAMER. - An iron twin screw steamer was launched on Wednesday from the building yard of the Barrow Shipbuilding Company. She has been built to the order of the Independence Marine Salvage and Steam Pump Company of this town, and will be employed by them for salvage purposes for which she is specially fitted up, some novel and important features being introduced in her construction. Her dimensions are - 176 feet in length, and 25 feet beam; depth, 14.75 feet, the bottom being double, forming a water ballast; there is also a bunk at each end for trimming the vessel as may be required. Her construction and equipment throughout are such as to meet in every possible way the service for which she is destined, that of a powerful and effective tug boat. The pumping arrangements have received careful attention, one of the pumps fitted in the engine room being capable of discharging about 80 tons per minute, and when necessary it can be converted into an air pump for forcing air into a sunken vessel. There is also a steam launch and special boats for the use of the divers. The vessel was named the Recovery, Mrs. T. F. Walker performing the ceremony of christening. Messrs. Cooke and Mylchrest, marine engineers and architects, of this town, designed the vessel and machinery, and she has been built under their inspection.
[from Liverpool Journal of Commerce - Saturday 20 April 1889]:
By order of the Liquidators of the Independence Salvage and Steam Pump Co., Limited. On Thursday, the 2nd May, 1889, at Twelve o'clock, at the Brokers' Saleroom, Walmer-buildings, Qater-street, Liverpool (if not previously disposed of by private treaty). The well-known powerful twin-screw Salvage Steamer and Tug RECOVERY, 484 tons gross, 200 tons net register. Built of iron by the Barrow Shipbuilding Co. Limited, at Barrow in 1878, specially for salvage and towing purposes. Is fitted with inverted D.A. compound S.C. engines of 150 H.P. nominal. Has ample water ballast for sea-going purposes, will carry about 600 tons deadweight, and steam 11 knots. She has on board a large (fixed) combined water and air pump, capable of raising 600,000 gallons of water per hour, special engine for supplying air to divers, 3 steam winches, windlass, 2 donkey engines, towing gear (complete), anchors, cables, engine-room and other stores - Length, 177 feet; breadth, 25.1 feet; depth, 14.7 feet. Lying in the Prince's Dock, Liverpool.
There is also a very large quantity of SALVAGE APPARATUS lying at the Company's yard, Bath-street, Liverpool, comprising six powerful centrifugal pumps, steam hoist, three complete suits of diving apparatus, and other salvage gear. The boat, together with all the above stores, on board and in the Company's yard, will be offered in one Lot, and if not sold, will be put up separately with the stores on board only, and the salvage apparatus ashore will be put up immediately afterwards IN LOTS, as per catalogue, which, with further information, may be obtained from C. W. KELLOCK & CO., Brokers, Walmer-buildings, Water-street, Liverpool.
George Rodrigues owned salvage vessels, that sometimes worked with LSA.
The wooden (steam) flat Aggravator, built Runcorn
1860, 69 x 17 x 6.6ft, 18 hp screw engine added 1873, ON 28627, 37nrt, 54 grt, registered
Liverpool 1873, owned G Rodriques from at least 1867 until 1889.
Later owners [from MNL]: Roberts, Pentraeth 1890-3; Morgan, Holyhead 1894; Heathcock, Liverpool 1895-6; Howells, Pwllheli 1897-9, register closed 1899.
She was mentioned as assisting in several salvage operations; eg here, and see Hyaena above.
[from Liverpool Daily Post - Tuesday 28 August 1877]:
TORPEDO REMOVAL EXPERIMENTS ON THE MERSEY. Yesterday afternoon some experiments of an interesting kind were carried out on the Mersey near New Ferry, for the purpose of showing how torpedoes might be removed or rendered innoxious by the destruction of the electric wires or other contrivances connected with them. The apparatus is the invention of an American officer, Colonel Charles Shell, and is said to have been used with success on the James River during the American civil war. The experiments yesterday were conducted from the deck of the steam flat Aggravator, and besides the inventor and others interested in the operations, there was also on board the vessel Admiral Boys, director of land ordnance. ...
[From The North Wales Chronicle and Advertiser for the Principality - 8th July
BANGOR. IMPORTANT TO SHIP OWNERS AND OTHERS. MR JOHN PRITCHARD will SELL BY PUBLIC AUCTION, on the BEACH, at HIRAEL, Bangor, on TUESDAY, JULY 25th, 1893, at TWO p.m., the SCREW STEAMER "AGGRAVATOR," of LIVERPOOL, of 36 TONS Register, and about 75 Tons Burthen, Length 69ft. Breadth 17ft., Depth, 6ft. 6in; together with the whole of the Materials. The Vessel will be found on inspection to be in fair condition, the present owner having expended within the last three years a sum of £600 upon her. She shifts without ballast, is easily handled, and draws 7ft. with a full cargo.
[from The North Wales Express - 14th August 1896]:
Holyhead. A DISABLED VESSEL. - The steam flat, Aggravator, of Liverpool, bound from Point of Ayr to Pwllheli, was towed into the refuge harbour with machinery disabled, and in a leaky state, by the Liverpool steamer Helena. The Aggravator was again brought into the old harbour, where she now lies.
Composite screw steamer Zephyr, built Chatham 1873 as
Ariel class screw gunboat (4 guns); 308 tons bm; 438 tons displ; 534
hpi, 60hp engines. Sold 1889 to G Rodrigues of Liverpool for use as a
salvage steamer, owned until 1907. Registered Liverpool 1889, ON 97794,
291grt, 43nrt, 123.3 x 23.0 x 12.0 ft, 76 hp engine.
Later ownership: 1909-1929, Cornish Salvage Co, Cardiff. Broken up 1929.
Rodrigues had sold the steam-flat Aggravator in 1889, so acquired this ex-gunboat as a replacement. Since the Independence Salvage Company was bankrupt at this date, with equipment for sale, this may have been an inducement to expand. He is reported as the salvor of SS Nepaul wrecked off Plymouth 1890. He seems to have been the master of the salvage steamer.
Image of an Ariel class gunboat (actually HMS Coquette) [from RMG]
[from Liverpool Journal of Commerce - Saturday 24 January 1891]:
Sale. Wreck of S.S. Nepaul. Important Sale. To Wholesale Warehousemen, Drapers, Brewers, Grocers, Ropemakers, Cabinetmakers, Colour Merchants, and others. P. HAMLEY is favoured with instructions from Mr. George Rodrigues, Liverpool, salvor and owner of the cargo of the SS. Nepaul, to Sell by auction on Tuesday next, January 27th, 1891, at No. 52a Store, Great Western Docks, Plymouth, the following valuable EFFECTS, ...
[from Liverpool Shipping Telegraph and Daily Commercial Advertiser - Friday
18 June 1897]:
The hull of the steamship Cascapedia, which was wrecked on Crosby shore last year, has been almost entirely demolished. The breaking up of the vessel was undertaken by G. Rodrigues, who, with his salving steamer Zephyr, has for several months past (when weather permitted) been busily engaged in taking to pieces and removing the wreck. A dock 13 feet deep at low water has formed round the wrecked hull, which in a great measure assisted the salving operations. The whole of the Cascapedia's port side from the rail to the turn of the bilge and a considerable portion of the starboard side forward have been removed.
[from Liverpool Journal of Commerce - Friday 28 February 1873]:
Burmah, from Manilla, at anchor, and the City of Cambridge (s), for Calcutta, were in collision yesterday morning, between Egremont and New Brighton, and the former sunk. The Burmah has been placed by the owner in charge of the Liverpool Salvage Association. An attempt will be made to stop hole in port bow by divers, and to build up the hatchways to above low water, preparatory to pumping the vessel out.
[from Liverpool Mercury - Friday 22 January 1875]:
Interesting Experiments. Some interesting experiments took place yesterday, under the auspices of ihe Liverpool Salvage Association, at the Canning Basin, with the Denayrouze diving apparatus. The object of experiments was to show the recent improvements in diving appliances, and they were watched by a large number persons, including members of the deck board, divers, engineers, shipowners, underwriters, and other persons interested. There were present Messrs. William Rathbone, M.P., Macdonald, M.P., Burt, M. P., Paul (of the Underwriters' Association), Yelland (chief of the Salvage Brigade), Captain Cawkitt, and other gentlemen. The diver, Mr. George Fletcher, of Liverpool, descended into the basin, equipped in the diving apparatus, about eleven o'clock, and remained under water for nearly an hour. On ascending, he reported that the supply of air by means of the apparatus was excellent and that he could have remained down much longer period. Mr. R. Applegarth, who had charge of the experiments, and other gentlemen, communicated with the greatest of ease and rapidity with the diver when he was under water by means of the speaking apparatus, which is a great improvement upon old mode of signalling. The Denayrouze submarine lamps were also tried, and the diver reported that they worked most satisfactorily, that the light in the lamp burnt quite clear under water, and that enabled him work with facility. Mr. Applegarth also gave some interesting experiments with Denayrouze's aerophare and respirator, which is designed for saving life in cases of fire, in deleterious gases, smoke, and chemicals. The experiments showed that a person equipped with these appliances could live and remain for some considerable time in an atmosphere where without them death would instantaneous.
[patented in 1864, with a pressure regulator on the diving helmet to supply air on demand]
Report of salvage diving, including night diving, on wreck of Angola by LSA, in 1887.
Thanks to the descendents of a diver with the Liverpool Salvage
Association, we have an image and anecdotes of the diver [copyright
The diver was Thomas Louttit, born Rousay, Orkney, 1843, married at Liverpool in 1863, 2nd mates ticket 1869, working as a seaman aboard the Formby lightship, Comet, in 1871, and listed in the census of 1881 (as mariner), and then 1891, 1901 and 1911 as a "diver", living in Toxteth Park, Liverpool. His son Charles, born 1883, was also a diver.
Image of Tom Louttit (on the right) and his son Charles (in diving dress)::
ESCAPADES OF THE VENERABLE TOM.
I am old enough to remember the redoubtable Tom Loutitt, about whom I have gathered some of the best stories of the diving world. When I first knew him he was already an old man with a white beard stretching halfway down his chest. This gave him a highly venerable and benevolent appearance which did not altogether tally with his reputation or with his natural expression when on one occassion was he rash enough to shave it off. He was, in fact, a renowned "Hard case", in the days when hard cases were a good deal harder than any that are to be found in this degenerate, but more polished age.
If I do him an injustice by attributing to him escapades of which he was innocent, I hope that his ghostly shade will forgive me, remembering that Homeric Figures tend to gather legends round them and that stories handed down by word of mouth must necessarily become embroidered with the passage of time. But I think that, so far from bearing malice, he is more likely, in whatever snug harbour he may be, to be chuckling over memories of misdoings of which we have no record. And although my father usually referred to him as "that old devil", his exploits provided some of the best stories, and he was the first to admit that Tom was daring and skilful at his trade.
It was on a voyage to the north coast of Spain that, having been left in charge of the salvage steamer Hyaena's deck while the crew went below for food, he battened down the skylight and hatchways, lashed the tiller amidships, armed himself with a heavy piece of wood, and settled down on the deck at the after-hatch (where he had imprisoned the Captain, officers and divers) to a demijohn of whisky. Nothing would induce him to let them out, and it was only when the whisky took effect and he fell into a deep sleep that they were able to force the skylight open and secure him with a rope. By this time the Hyaena was so far off her course that they had to get their position from a passing liner.
This was the beginning of a feud with the engineer of the Hyaena, known as "Paddy the Crab", who got even one day by surreptitiously slipping a bluebottle into Tom's helmet just as his front glass was being screwed up. Tom went down into a deep water and into the hold of the wreck before the air coming into the helmt alarmed the bluebottle. The more he moved his head the more the insect buzzed about his face until eventually, almost maddened, he had to make signals to his tender to haul him up, which meant loss of time and wages to Tom.
Tom on one occasion had a feud with this same tender, whom he suspected of not looking after his air-pipe and life-line carefully enough when he was below water. The man was, in fact, in the habit of taking a turn round his wrist with the life-line and sitting down comfortably on the gunwhale of the diving boat instead of remembering that "the post of attendant is a very responsible one" and that "from the time the diver gets on to the ladder to go down until he comes up again, the attendant must concentrate his mind on his charge and never let his attention wander".
Tom waited his opportunity. Having gone down into 8 fathoms or so he suddenly gave a sharp jerk on the life-line and yanked the tender out of the boat. Before the unfortunate man could free his wrist, Tom had hauled him down to the bottom, cuffed him soundly over the head, and set him free to rise to the surface considerably more than half-drowned.
At one case on the west coast of Ireland, Tom was given £20 and sent off to buy provisions for the crew of the salvage steamer which was working at a ship ashore at the foot of some high cliffs. Some days later he returned dead-drunk with a tin of biscuits and rolled from the top of the cliffs to the bottom without doing himself any harm.
Divers were working inside a wreck, breaking out cargo and sending it to the surface. One of them seemed to be meeting with difficulties for, although he had been down all the afternoon, he had sent up very little cargo, and none at all the last couple of hours. Repeated tugs on his life-line, inviting him to "Come up and report" met with no answer, but occasionally he himself would give a signal to show that he was all right. At last, when everybody was beginning to be anxious about him, the diver shot suddenly to the surface, and was dragged to the ladder. A little unsteadily he climbed up it, and sat down heavily in the stern of the boat. "I believe he's ill," said his tender, and hurried to take off his helmet. "Are you alright?"; "qui' alright", said the diver amiably. The man was undeniably drunk, although he was perfectly sober before he went under water. Next morning the chief salvage officer himself spent a few minutes going over the plan of the wreck with Tom before the latter went down. "Sober as a horse at a funeral," he muttered to himself: "Yet I'll swear he was drunk yesterday."
That afternoon, at any rate, there was no doubt about it. The diver had gone down sober, but nobody could doubt that he was drunk when he returned to the surface some hours later. The whole thing was a mystery. Not even the other divers could find a solution. At last the chief salvage officer got out the cargo manifest of the wrecked ship and began to go carefully through it. Suddenly he came upon the clue. The manifest showed that in the hold were Tom had been working were a number of cases of whisky. Here, then was the source of supply. But how had the whisky got inside the helmet and the diver? Apparently it was a physical impossibility. It was simple enough when you knew the answer.
As the ship sank she had heeled over slightly to one side. Some of the air in the hold instead of escaping out of the hatch when the water poured in, had been trapped in the angle formed by the side of the ship and 'tween deck. When the cargo was worked out of this side more air was released. Some of this, instead of making its way up the hatch in bubbles, was also trapped under the 'tween deck. This was supplemented by the air from the escape valve of the diver's helmet, until a pocket of air, perhaps 18 inches deep, was formed in the angle. The diver, working under the 'tween deck, suddenly discovered that his hands were out of water. Not long afterwards he discovered the cases of whisky. Having carried up a case and broached it, he sat on top of the cargo and, with water within an inch or two of the bottom of his face-glass and 60 feet of water over his head, unscrewed the face-glass and knocked the neck off a bottle.
To avoid interruption from the surface, and to defeat any attempt made from the diving boat to pull him up unexpectedly, he took a turn with his life-line round a convenient stanchion.
He was then free to enjoy himself with the knowledge that if he slipped, if there was any sudden movement in the water, if for any reason the air should escape from under the 'tween decks or if he had miscalculated his own capacity, and failed to screw his face-glass on again, he would be drowned like a rat in a trap. But, then, divers cannot afford to suffer from nerves.
Postscript. Thomas Louttit died on 30 May 1911 at Keel, Achill, after being rendered paraplegic owing to a diving accident, three days earlier. The Liverpool Salvage steamer Linnet arrived at Cobh on 25 May to assist in salvaging the Cunard steamer Ivernia, the Ranger arrived later. One wreck, SS Sentry, is reported at Keel at that date, though the vessel was described as intentionally stranded - which would be a shallow wreck. Maybe the diving incident (which occurred on 27 May) was elsewhere (for instance, on salvage of Ivernia) but the consequence was delayed and reported on arrival at Keel.
Steel steamer Sentry, built 1903, 41nrt, ON 115745. Reported as carrying a cargo of stones. Ashore Keel (beach on south-west side of Achill Island). Register closed 1911.
[from Belfast News-Letter - Saturday 06 May 1911]:
A Keel (Achill) telegram states that the steamer Sentry, which put in short of coal, had to be beached at Keel to save her from sinking. Should the weather break she will become a total wreck.
[from Liverpool Journal of Commerce - Tuesday 09 May 1911]:
Sentry (s). Hard on rocks; think cannot ascertain damage before Wednesday owing to tides. (Keel, Achill. May 6.)
Captain offered, but declined assistance; steamer in charge of owner's superintendent; tide ebbs and flows in the vessel; after part submerged high water; not wholly dry low water, but by Wednesday or Thursday next, with better strands condition and extent of leakage may be ascertained and possibly secured and steamer refloated. (Westport May 8)
[from Liverpool Journal of Commerce - Saturday 06 May 1911]:
Marine insurance Notes. The coasting steamer Sentry, ashore on Achill Island, is one of the fleet, owned by Purdie, Glen, and Miller, of Glasgow. She is valued at £2,000, being 96 tons register, built in 1903.
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