puffers & vics




Margaret Niven


Builder Unknown at Port Glasgow
Official Nr 55439
Yard Nr  
Launched 1866
Length 63.2ft
Beam 16.5ft
Gross 41tons (42 after engining)
Nett 32 tons (24 after engining)
Engine 2 Cyl Steam Compound

This one vessel encapsulates a significant era in the development of Clyde shipping. Having been built as a gabbert, the sail powered workhorse of the river and estuary since the 1600s until they were superceded by the steam driven puffers in the mid 1800s, she was to become a puffer herself after being fitted with a steam engine.

Built as a sail-powered gabbert and first registered to William Orr of Greenock. Her 1880 MNL entry shows her owned by Peter Chalmers, also of Greenock.  In 1881 she was converted to steam power and in 1890 she is listed as owned by Alex Nielson of Alexandria, Dumbartonshire. Her 1900 entry has her owned by Thomas R Fordyce of Port Dundas Road, Glasgow.

On 21st August 1908 she sank in Stonefield Bay in Loch Fyne after colliding with a rock off Barmore Island while laden with a cargo of crushed granite to be used for road chippings.  On the 10th September her wreck was sold for £14 to a salvage company, McLean & Co. of Glasgow. However, as her wreck is still  in situ they must have abandoned their efforts to salvage her, although her 1910 MNL entry shows her still registered, now to a James Smith of Lawrence Street, Partick. Her registration was closed that same year.