Ark Royal scrapping at Cairnryan - any photos?

21st May 2011, 16:11
After watching Sailor on DVD this week I now have an unhealthy obsession about Ark Royal being scrapped at Cairnryan. Does anyone know of any photos that show it being done in stages? All Ive seen is the one on here of it complete and the one at the end of the TV programme showing virtually nothing left of it. Also it seems to have started of on the west side of the jetty and then moved round to the east side where the last parts were on the 'inland' bit. Wonder why. Must pass by just to take a look sometime in the next 20 years when/if I pass that way!!!

22nd May 2011, 00:11
There's plenty of images of the Ark being scrapped which was pretty much done from top to bottom. Ark was initially moored on the outside of the Cairn Ryan pier deep water berth and as the hull was lightened she was moved inside to be beached. The remains were cut up into managble sizes and shiped to Spain for melting down.

22nd May 2011, 10:17
Cheers, is there a book that has images as I can't find anything at all on the net apart from this one

22nd May 2011, 14:16

22nd May 2011, 16:38

In 1980, Cairn Ryan ship breaking yard was owned by ‘Shipbreaking Queenborough Ltd (SQL) which had its origins in a group of Italians who came to the UK in the 1950s and started breaking ships on a small scale in Kent. SQL would lease the yard out to ship breakers (a usual practice often performed by many yards including Pounds at Portsmouth).

Mount Star Metal was the lease holders of Cairn Ryan in 1980.
The Ark arrived at Cairn Ryan on the 28th Sept 1980 having been purchased by Mount Star Metal Corporation who in turn sub contracted the breaking to H. kitson Vickers. Mount Star subsequently replaced Vickers with Northern Ship breaking but was to find these contractors progress slow going resulting in a protracted breaking process. Unsurprisingly Mount Star found the venture increasingly loss making. Finally in 1982 SQL bought the remains of the Ark from Mount Star for 50,000 and completed the demolition by 1984.

Due to a fall in scrap prices in the early 80s, efforts were initially made to remove the non valuable ferrous metals. Normally a ship under demolition is cut from top to bottom deck by deck, but in Ark’s case two shafts were dug right down into the engine room in order for the non ferrous metals to be removed. Unfortunately these shafts became something of a dumping area with 14 ft of waste material piled up making breaking the ship hazardous. By the time SQL took over demolition, the forty strong work force had to risk regular fires and spillages in dealing with these shafts. Northern Shipping had made a hash of breaking the Ark and even failed to blow the props off with explosives, early on in a bid to gain an early return.

Whereas Eagle was hauled stern first up the beach, the Ark went by the bow, gradually being hauled closer to shore as the hulk lightened. Little remained of the Ark Royal by the time the Bulwark arrived in April 1984 other then a 100 ft by 100ft section of the boiler room and a pile of cube like pieces on the dock side awaiting the coaster to Spain.

The Ark was acquired from the MOD for 750,000, which was less than the Eagle was sold for despite the fact that the latter had been stripped of spares and had no props. The total scrap value of the Ark was estimated at 2,588,364. (Incidentally the Eagle raised a scrap value of 1,891,599, it seems even back then the MOD didn’t know how to get value for money! 250 tones of the Ark’s amour plating were returned to the RN presumably for experimental use.
Source: Cairn Ryan Military Port, R Holme; GC Publishers 1997.

22nd May 2011, 18:08
That 100ft section referred to I reckon is what we saw in the 8 year on Sailor. Everywhere else says it was gone by 1983 but I guess not completely.

22nd May 2011, 18:46
I will email you plenty of pics of the Ark through the breaking process. Can't upload them due to copywrite. The images will tell the whole story and include the Ark in 1984 which will confirm she was still about.

28th September 2011, 20:54
I will email you plenty of pics of the Ark through the breaking process. Can't upload them due to copywrite. The images will tell the whole story and include the Ark in 1984 which will confirm she was still about.

Hi Stevo, anychance you could dend me them pics please


28th September 2011, 22:41
Rumour has it, that the fittings ( panelling etc.) from the Admirals' cabin, were removed and bought by the owner of the Knocknassie Hotel near Portpatrick harbour.

31st October 2011, 14:39
Hi, thanks for the lead about the hotel. I spent a fun afternoon a couple of years ago looking for this paneling.

What I did find in a hotel was a square of steel plate in the car park. It was over the septic tank and the owner told me it was part of ArkR's flight deck.

Alos somewhere near Sandhead I am told the damage control boards from HQ1 are in a hotel.

Know no more than that.

9th November 2011, 20:38
Found this, 1981 apparently.

12th November 2011, 11:16
I never realised it was so long ago that he Ark Royal was broken up at Cairnryan. I`ve done plenty of travelling between Northern Ireland and Scotland over the last fifty years as a passenger and remember her. It is always a sad sight seeing a proud vessel come it`s end.

16th February 2012, 22:38
i have access to around 40 or 50 photos of the Ark during its scrapping from start to finish and also all the other boats which met their end at Cairnryan, the Bulwark, Mohawk, Blake, Eagle etc.

I grew up and lived across from the Shipbreakers peir at Cairnryan and though just a kid back then, i have a good memory and remember the hive of activity when the shipbreaking was going on and also the massive interest in what was going on, and the amount of cars stopping so people could take photos.

That was true enough about the hull of the Ark Royal being towed round to the more sheltered inside part of the peir before eventually being hauled onto the shore. I vaguely remember this with the Ark in '82 i believe and remember the Bulwark better in '86 when it got towed round when it was part way through being scrapped.

Whats amazing is all this time after the boats were broken up, scrap metal still washes up on the shore. Between the amount of metal lost into the sea and the amount going "missing" the Queensborough and Vickers must have missed out on making a heck of a lot more money. Even since the early 90s after the scrapping ended, my brother must have made at least 20 grand trawling the shore and yard collecting non ferrous that he finds.

I will try and upload some of the best pics online for yous which im sure will be of interest.

17th February 2012, 06:48
That would be great Martin!

Burntisland Ship Yard
17th February 2012, 17:54
Thanks Martin, I have searched for a long time for pictures of the ark demolition, and found very little...................

4th September 2012, 22:29
I will email you plenty of pics of the Ark through the breaking process. Can't upload them due to copywrite. The images will tell the whole story and include the Ark in 1984 which will confirm she was still about.

hi steve im interested in seeing any photos you can get of ark royal at the breakers , im new to the site where can i find them , thanks

8th September 2012, 22:15
I don't know if they came from ARK R or one of the other ships, but I have some tiles that I found in the sand under the jetty there a few years back. They look just like the tiles in the deck of the heads in warships I know.

The first carrier I ever saw was at Cairnryan. Eagle, I must have been about 6. We had family at the nearby Dalminnach farm.

Such a sad place that jetty. A place to me filled with the ghosts of dead ships whose remains, metal, rust in the sand and lunps of FFO are still there to see.

18th October 2012, 07:19

Any chance of the photos during the breaking process being emailed on to me please.

Many thanks

14th March 2015, 17:01
Just resurrecting this thread to see if any more pictures of Ark-R and other ships at Cairnryan have surfaced.

16th March 2015, 11:33
Just wonder if bit of the R09 ( the Ark used in the fleet Airarm musum ?

17th March 2015, 18:42
Only just discovered this thread. If scrap steel from the Ark was sent to Spain for reprocessing, then the chances are that any engineers who have BAHCO adjustable wrenches and Irazola screwdrivers in their toolkits, they might have a piece of the Ark.