Fyne Pioneer, Loch Fyne

Site Name: Wallachia - Clyde


The Wallachia was a 1077nt iron steamship, built by Oswald Morduant & Co of Southampton, and launched in March 1883. The single screw steamer was originally owned by Taylor & Cameron of Liverpool and was used on the Black Sea run. She was bought by William Burrel & Son of Glasgow in 1893 and employed on regular trips between Glasgow and the West Indies.


She left Queen's Dock, Glasgow for her final voyage to Trinidad at 10am on 29th September 1895 with a crew of 22 under Captain R. Walton. On board was one passenger and general cargo including beer, whisky, gin, acids, glassware, earthenware, coal, building materials, footwear and chemicals. The weather was foggy leading to the Wallachia being delayed around noon off the Tail of the Bank. The fog liften slighting in the early afternoon, allowing Captain Walton to set off, keeping to the channel on the Cowal side of the river. As the afternoon went on the fog thickened once more, and just before 4pm the Wallachian grounded off Innellan Pier but quickly refloated on the rising tide. Shortly afterwards, Captain Walton was startled by the appearance of the large Norwegian steamer Flos, off his starboard bowIt was obvious that the Wallachia was going to collide with the 1406 ton steamer and there was only time to order everybody clear off the foc'sle before the bow of the Flos crashed into the starboard side of the Wallachia 10 feet from the stern.


The two ships stayed together while the Wallachia's lifeboats were lowered. The first lifeboat capsized but the crew and single passenger were able to escape on the other two lifeboats. The Flos attempted to tow the Wallachia to shallow water but this was abandoned as the Wallachia began to settle at the bow as soon as the other ship backed away. 25 minutes after the intial collision the Wallachia sank by the bow, with a massive explosion as she sank beneath the surface. The crew rowed to Toward Lighthouse and got on to land safely.


In October 1895, divers from salvage ship Torch dived the Wallachia to remove her masts, which rose to just one metre below the surface. The last official trace of her was as a wreck symbol on an Admiralty chart of 1905, and from then on she was forgotten. The wreck was then forgotten about for 80 years until rediscovered by divers in 1977 who were diving on an unknown obstruction which had entangled a fisherman's nets.

Dive Site Info

The wreck of the Wallachia lies upright on a muddy seabed at 34 metres. Her bow points north and the average depth over the wreck is 30 metres.  At 259 feet in length she can be easily explored in one dive and her fine lines, so distinctive of 19th century steamships, appreciated.  She is a relic from a bygone age, a tantalising glimpse of the majestic days of steam.


The foredeck has three holds, each deep with silt, although the holds do hide interesting items of cargo. The raised foc'sle has a large winch on top and can be safely entered and exited by the bulkhead doors. The gash of the collision on the starboard bow is clearly visible. The remains of the foremast lie across the middle hold. The raised bridge deck housed the captain's quarters and provided access to the engine and boiler rooms. It is possibe to enter the engine room through the gap left by the missing funnel and swim aft, below deck level, into the engine room and out through the roof. The wooden decks on either side of the superstructure have rotted giving access to the rooms beneath. Towards the stern are three more holds, the rearmost one containing thousands of bottles of beer. The covered stern houses the emergency steering gear, toilet and store. 


The wreck is deep and dark, prone to unpredictable curents and lies close to the shipping channel. Furthermore, it is beginning to show signs of deterioration with large cracks appearing in the stern deck around the middle hold, and the front of the bridge has fallen away, crushed by the weight of steam steering gear in the bridge. Extreme care should be taken when entering any overhead environment on this wreck. With a good torch, and on a good day, visibility is at best a few metres. On the descent, the ambient light seems to disappear 5m or 10m down, and by 20m pitch blackness envelops the diver. Care should be taken as the visibility will quickly reduce to nil as finning disturbs the deep silt. Fishing nets are a common hazard on this wreck.


The Wallachia is certainly a classic Scottish wreck dive, one for every diver's logbook.

When to dive

The Wallachia is a tidal wreck which can be dived at slack water only.