SS Camlough - Help with New Information re. Salvage of the Wreck - Ships Nostalgia
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SS Camlough - Help with New Information re. Salvage of the Wreck

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Old 25th June 2018, 17:47
Nswstar2 Nswstar2 is offline
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SS Camlough - Help with New Information re. Salvage of the Wreck

I've been researching events around the wreck and subsequent salvage of the SS Camlough on the beach at Monreith in Scotland in 1932.

A search on this Forum for 'SS Camlough' will find threads with photos - both of the ship itself and of the surviving portion of wreckage which was never removed from the beach and became exposed in shifting sands by last winter's storms (now re-buried in sand).

I've also been chasing down relevant articles in local press of the time with details of the wreck, the dramatic rescue operation of the crew, and the aftermath of the stranding of the vessel and subsequent salvage operations (which I know involved cutting up the vessel for scrap with acetylene torches and removing all equipment).

My questions here are for any help in interpreting the details shown on a newly-discovered postcard which shows the wreck site seen from the raised cliffs to the north, looking down to the south along the beach and at the wreck site on the Black Rocks at Monreith.

The postcard (an eBay find by a friend) was mailed in 1940, but the photo must have been taken in the mid-1930s, almost certainly sometime in 1934, when salvage works were well underway.

Wreck site Location on this postcard photo: Spot the row of white fence posts extending left-to-right across the rocks. This appears to mark a boundary of the area where active salvage was happening just beyond it. The Camlough was wrecked just beyond point, with her bow on the rocks and stern on sand, lying alongside the rock formations, facing north, towards the camera's lens.

Beyond the fence, the wreck site is quite foreshortened by the camera. A dark rectangular structure rises up from the rocks and sands. There also appears to be a low curving structure running forward around the raised structure... consistent with the sides of the ship running along to the bow end of the Camlough and towards her prow, but already having been cut down way below the level of her decks to a few feet above the bottom of the ship (as was done on the surviving stern portion of the ship, which still lies in the sand).

Questions - what exactly can we make out of the wreck:

1) Do others here see what I'm seeing - the cut-down sides running towards the bow end pointing forwards towards the camera viewpoint? Note, the actual bow section itself appears to have already been cut up and removed (it was resting on rocks, which would have made it easier to cut right down to the bottom of the hull and remove everything).

2) What ideas might you have re. the identification of the rectangular, raised structure? Camlough's raised bridge was in the centre of the ship, with her boiler and engine room towards the rear (her funnel has clearly gone already). (see photo of SS Camlough model for reference)

3) Might the salvage crews have cut up the forward section of Camlough first, leaving one of the vertical structures - i.e. the wheelhouse (which was near the centre of the ship) or possibly the structures directly over the boiler room standing tall until a later stage of salvage... what is this vertical, rectangular structure likely to be?

4) Or alternatively, is that raised rectangle just some kind of temporary 'shed' put up while salvage operations were underway? (Although it looks rather like a shed on the photo, I think this is highly unlikely, given that it appears to be right in the middle of the footprint of the stranded ship, and so would risk being wave-washed at exceptional high tides).

5) From what is visible beyond the rectangular structure, the deck and sides of the ship at the stern appear to have already been cut away and removed.

How I place the likely date as 1934...

Background on the Salvage Operations on the Beach

We know that the salvage operations were undertaken by SamuelGray of Belfast, and that they ran through 1933 and 1934.

Salvage operations ceased for a break over the winter in November of 1933, after one of the small salvage steamers, SS Ethel, was severely damaged while alongside the Camlough attempting to take on a load of salvage. The wind strengthened suddenly, and the Ethel was damaged by a sudden change in the weather tossing the boat around so violently that 'she smashed her rudder against the wreck and was driven onto the beach close to the Camlough receiving a great lot of damage.' (Galloway Shipwrecks, Peter C. Miller)

The subsequent year, salvage operations were resumed, but after a second small salvage vessel, the steam barge SS Omo, was also wrecked at the site in November of that year, the official salvage operation was called off for good.

Photos attached:

1) Postcard view of the site which was mailed in 1940.

2) Model of SS Camlough from when she was launched (1920) showing structures above deck.

3) Contemporary photo of Camlough stranded on the beach (the only useful shot I have for comparison, but unfortunately from entirely the opposite direction and from beach level.

4) Shot of exposed remains of the stern wreckage - which has been cut away down to the last few feet above the bottom of the ship - torch marks on the steelwork of the side plates are still obvious. The 1930s postcard photo would have been taken from a spot just above the tiny white dot of a house showing in the distance of this photo.
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