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A North Boat- which?
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A North Boat- which?

Here we find one of the the steamers of the North of Scotland Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Company (and you can imagine how that would have looked on their sign above their office which was next to the St Ola Hotel) at Kirkwall pier.

I'm not sure if it is the St Magnus, St Rognvald, St Ninian, St Clements or whatever, and would be grateful for a name or a date, which is also a guess.
Picture added on 26 April 2004
It is definitely NOT the Ninian, But I can't help you any more than that.

Added by Norma on 26 April 2004
That looks very like my memories of the old Magnus. Maybe in the '50s
Added by Morag robinson on 27 April 2004
It is my opinion that this is the St. Magnus III built 1924 and disposed of in 1960.
See pages 127-129 of Gordon Donaldson's book "Northwards by Sea" and the photo on page 80 of same.
Added by P. Burges. on 28 April 2004
I have to agree with Peter Burges, and just because he is my cousin. Open web site "North of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland postcards", page 1, click on "St Magnus (3) 1924-60", second photo taken from similar angle as Ian Heddle's photo. every detail fits - definitely St Magnus 3.
Added by Tom Scott on 29 April 2004
I agree, this is st magnus iii. She was built at hall & russell and entered service in 1924. Originally she had a black funnel which was repainted yellow in the late 1930's.

taken over by the adn\miralty from 1934 to 1940 she took part in the norweigian campaign before returning to the aberdeen/lerwick service, during that time she was attacked by enemy aircraft twice.

after the war she served on the main indirect route and from 1950 on the weekend service.

given the hight of the funnel and the amount of smoke, I would suggest that this photograph pre-dates her conversion to oil firing. A lovely picture, can we have more of these please!

she was converted to oil firing in the early 1950's and her funnel replaced with a shorter version. She was scrapped in 1960
Added by David Robinson on 15 May 2004
Picture 119 is of St Clair, built 1937 which was renamed St Magnus in 1960 which is probably why there is no name obvious on her bow

Added by Alastair Cormack on 08 November 2005
My name is Elizabeth Anne Skipper (Shearer before I was married ). I sailed on the st Ninian from Leith with my Mother and Father in my early teens- I am now 66 years of age and i will always remember my journey to Orkney and then on to shetland, it was such an adventure for me.

One thing that sticks out in my mind was when we docked at Orkney and had a stroll through the town and looked at the shops we had something to eat from a lovely cake shop and bakery .

My time on the journey was spent on the bridge with the captain and the first and second officers at 4 o'clock in the morning a seaman brought a huge pot of tea and a plate piled high with toast it was delicious.

Next day we sailed on to Shetland and spent some time there. My Father then found he had lost his flat cap in Orkney- we docked at Orkney on the way back from Shetland and again walked back through the town and low and behold his cap was on the window ledge of the lovely cake shop. He was so happy to be reunited with his favorite bunnet.

These are my memories of the St Ninian and Orkney and shetland .

Added by Elizabeth Anne Skipper on 26 April 2006
I also believe it is the St. Magnus, my friend and I aged 18 sailed in her, ( this was in 1948). We had a weeks cruise leaving Leith docks and sailing first to Aberdeen, then to Kirkwall and on to Lerwick. The captain was called Captain Dundas, the round trip with full board cost us �10 each!!! We then sailed the following year on the new ship which was the St.Ninian and still the trip cost �10, but the ship was luxurious and once again we sailed with Captain Dundas. They were amongst some of my happiest memories, it took us nearly all year to save the �10. My friend Rose and I used to go down to the North of Scotland offices on a Friday (which was pay day) by bus from Lothian Road and pay in 2/-d sometimes 2/6d. Oh so many happy memories.
Added by Elizabeth Gentle Field on 26 April 2006
Like the ladies who submitted the previous 2 comments I also sailed on this ship (the 'old' St Magnus - her name is just visible below the foremast) on holiday with my parents from Leith to Orkney. It was in 1950 and I was just 4 years old but it was such a great adventure for a child that I can remember many things from the time. My father worked in Henry Robb's shipyard which was a stone's throw from the 'North Boats' berths in Leith docks and I was used to being around ships from as far back as I can remember.

My memories of the Magnus include moths flying out of the lockers in our cabin and my mother and I being sea-sick both nights (my father was totally unaffected and spent most of the time on the open upper deck).

We spent the holiday at a farm (I think near St Margaret's Hope). I remember seeing some of the old block-ships and of course walking across the Churchill Barriers. We also visited the Italian chapel and were dive-bombed by Skuas.

We returned to Leith on the St Ninian, brand new that year and for me always the best-looking North Boat of them all. Unfortunately the thing I remember most about her then was the all-pervading smell of diesel fuel!

In 1969 I visited a friend on Fair Isle, sailing from Aberdeen to Lerwick on the St Clair III. In 1988 I took my car abroad for the first time with my family to Brittany, sailing on Brittany Ferries 'Tregastel' from Plymouth to Roscoff. What's this to do with the North Boats? Well, she subsequently became St Clair V!
Added by Eric Low on 12 July 2006
don't know which one it is, but just came across this great site: maybe you'll find it there?

Added by Lou on 27 August 2006
I came across this page whilst browsing for Saint Ninian. This could possibly be a sister ship. My Grandfather was ship's carpenter on the Saint Ninian when she was torpedoed and sunk during the first world war. If anyone could point me to pictures or even history of the St. Ninian I would be delighted.
Added by Bob Dixon on 24 November 2006
If a St Ninian was sunk, it was not one belonging to the North of Scotland company. However, that company's second St Magnus and first St Margaret were both sunk. Perhaps your grandfather was on one of them. Details can be found in Gordon Donaldson's "Northwards by Sea", 2nd edition 1978. The survivors of the St Margaret endured an epic three-day voyage in an open boat to reach Shetland in safety.
Added by Paul Sutherland on 01 December 2006
I think that this might be the St Sunniva 1 which was wrecked on Mousa in April 1930
Added by Michael Brass on 07 January 2007
Think that is the St Magnus III
Added by Pauline Brass on 07 January 2007
The Captain of the St.Magnus, was Captain Dundas and he also captained the new St.Ninian which I believe was 1948/9? I know he had daughters, I wonder if any of the girls have any memories of their Father being Captain
Added by Elizabeth Gentle Field on 07 January 2007
For anyone interested in the old 'North Boats', there are some pictures on Shetlopedia.com. Look for 'Category index' on the left side of the front page, then click on 'Shetland Boats'
Added by Erik Manson on 08 January 2007
To clarify, the St. Ninian which was torpedoed and sunk on 7/2/1917 was ship's number 104545. I also have copies of reparation claims for loss of tools and inability to work, from my grandfather's papers, following the injuries he sustained in this incident.
Added by Bob Dixon on 09 January 2007
Shetlopedia.com has some good North Boat information, thanks Erik. www.shetlopedia.com/Category:Shetland_Boats for a full list of the North Boats listed, and some nice photos.
Added by Darren Mackie on 26 January 2007
Its not the st ninian as this is much bigger than it but i can't tell any further.
Added by Adam Bourne on 30 January 2007
Oh happy days. My first taste of Orkney and Shetland was in 1965 - crusing from Leith docks to Aberdeen and then overnight to Kirkwall. I got up early and went for a stroll down the main street, got as far as the Cathedral, and that was it - love at first sight!! We sailed at 10 pm and arrived in Shetland the following morning. After a full day in Shetland it was back to Orkney and an afternoon sightseeing before returning to Aberdeen and Leith. This was on the St. Ninian, and she was a beautiful ship.

I have no idea which number (version) of the various ships were, but obviously 1965 will give the clue. I remember on that voyage I was told by a crew member as we were sailing north that we should be passing the St. Magnus sailing in the opposite direction. I took a photograph of her, but as I didn't have a very good camera, or zoom lens or anything, it wasn't really that brilliant. I do remember she was listing rather badly, and I believe the following year she was scrapped. She was at the time the one remaining steamship on the route.

I took a series of shots of the St. Ninian in Kirkwall harbour a couple of years later. My original prints have faded considerably, but one day I will dig out my negatives and get some more done. I also got a couple of my late former husband's mini being craned onto the Ola in 1970! - I really must sort out my picture collection!!!
Added by Kathy Danby on 29 March 2007
Its amazing how boats bring so many fond memories, especially the old steamers and Ola's!!
I wonder if the new Hamnavoe's character will be so fondly remembered?
Even the Pentalina B and Claymore have built up quite a reputation. The PB is a lovely looking ship though, unlike the Nike shoe we now take to Scrabster.
Added by Ross on 30 March 2007
Now that's quite a description Ross, I must look more closely next time to see the resemblance!!!
Added by Kathy Danby on 30 March 2007
haha, Maybe i'm just getting old, but they don't build 'em like they used to!
Added by Ross on 02 April 2007
They certainly don't Ross. I like ships to look like ships - with a definite bow to them. Some of these 'blocks of flats' we have had in Kirkwall Bay are hideous. The only large vessel I have ever enjoyed travelling on was a number of years ago when I went to Holland. We travelled out on the Koningen Beatrix from Harwich, and she was so big I didn't believe she would sail. Nothing like the Nike shoes though - you couldn't feel her moving. I think though that the main reason I enjoyed being on board was because it was different - being a Dutch ship. Unlike again the Nike shoe the food was delicious too - the breakfast buffet defied description. The only thing they couldn't provide was a decent cup of tea.

On the St. Sunniva I made quite a reputation for myself with my breakfast. I travelled a number of times between Kirkwall and Aberdeen during 2002, and one morning in the restaurant when I couldn't decide what to eat I said "Oh, I'll just have some scrambled egg on toast". When it arrived it was the most enormous pile of scrambled egg, and really delicious. On the last voyage south on the Sunniva they didn't have the restaurant open, and it was cafeteria only. I was standing in there moaning about not being able to have my favourite breakfast in the morning, when a familiar face peered out of the galley and said "Oh yes you can!". It was all the better for the touch of nostalgia! I really miss the Sunniva. I also travelled on the St. Ninian and I remember the smell of diesel. It was the one time I was ALMOST seasick. I could smell it all the time during the cruise, and when we arrived back at Leith I went back into the cabin, threw up and came out again fine!!

Has anyone travelled from Shetland to Fair Isle on the Good Shepherd? Now there's an 'interesting' voyage!
Added by Kathy Danby on 02 April 2007
Yes, I'm sure this is the St.MagnusIII. I sailed on her in September 1959 from Lerwick to Kirkwall (in her final year) and was so sad that I was not going further. She seemed special. I remember her stability, smell (peculiar to steamships) and classic 1920's decor. I had sailed up on the newish St.Ninian - a lovely ship, but of a different generation and genre from the St.Magnus.
Added by Ian Smith on 25 November 2007
Kathy, I'm glad you enjoyed the Dutch food. I joined a Dutch ship, Royal Interocean Line, MV Boissevain which had sailed from Montivideo for Yokohama, I boarded at Capetown en route for Mauritius. First morning out a tray of sandwiches came round, tomatao - good, ugh they were raw bacon!! The food in the dining room was OK though.
Added by Tom Scott on 26 November 2007
Not the St Rognvald! I made a similar trip on her in 1959 and the photograph and the notes gave me a sharp attack of nostalgia. Ian's photos-before the Ro-Ro are also part of my memories of that trip.

My greatgrandfather was the schoolmaster in St Margaret Hope c.1850.
Added by Doug Heddle on 22 July 2008
I am probably on the wrong site, but, My father John Duncan AB was on the fishery cruiser Norna, they used to sail from Leith Docks to Stromness, they had a little band on board, this was made up of the crew members who could play a musical instrument, many times they played when they arrived in Stromness for the local hop!!! my Dad played the fiddle they had an old ships life belt printed with THE NORNA BAND on it
Added by Elizabeth Field on 26 July 2008
This ship is SS St MAgnus (IV I think) I am only 17 but love the old North Co ships and I'm sure that this is St Magnus.
Added by Steven Flett on 14 October 2008
Is it not the St Hilda? I sailed on St Clements early 50s
Added by FRANK FERRI on 11 April 2009
hi, im looking fo any info on a merchant sea ship name jumna, it was lost at sea in ww2. te crew were indian , but officers were british, id appreciate any info. thankyou
Added by Anne Dundas on 30 August 2009
The Jumna 2 was sunk in the Atlantic by a German cruiser - Admiral Hipper. 108 were lost. The QRMS Jumna 1 was sold to Norway but this will not be the one you are interested in as it was sold in 1898.
Try going on to BI History. You'll find it interesting I'm sure.
Added by Barbara on 03 September 2009
Ship shown is the st Magnus 2 sold in 1960, replaced by st Clair renamed st Magnus. I sailed on her as engineers steward in 1961. If you look closely at the picture you can just make out her name on the bow.
Added by George Tait on 04 November 2009
This is the St Magnus. I joined the St Ninian after training at TS DOLPHIN .AUGUST TILL DECEMBER 1955.Was a craneboy
Added by Gordon Will on 26 April 2010
My grannie travelled to Orkney in 1949 by coal steam boat from either Edinburgh or Glasgow. She recalls there were hammocks in the cabins and sheep on board also.
What's the thoughts on which ship/route it could have been? She came back into Aberdeen on the same or at least similar boat.
Added by Stuart Graham on 12 November 2010
This is a potograph of St. Magnus. She was built by Hall, Russel of Aberdeen and entered service in 1924.
She was the third vessel in the North Company fleet to have this name. She was sold for scapping in 1960
Added by Tom Allison on 15 November 2010
If you look at picture #1521 you will see it is the same ship, St Magnus, photo of the stern and no 3 hold.
Added by J.W on 18 November 2010
I reckon its the St Magnus. My father was a boiler room engineer. He was based in Aberdeen, but originally came from Burray.
Added by Brian Thomson on 06 February 2012
J Pottinger Snr sitting next whisky barrels. SS ST MAGNUS was coverted from a coal burner to oil.
Added by Bob Kelday on 06 February 2012
Brian Thomson's comment on this long-lived St Magnus thread gives me an excuse to submit a more-or-less relevant picture. She's St Magnus III without doubt; I had the worst sea-passage of my life on her in 1947, coming home from an Army Cadet Force camp near Ballater.
Added by Ian Hourston on 06 February 2012
my cousin john hartley sailed on the maiden voyage on 1/6/1950 from dundee on the saint ninnian. he was photographed and in the ocal peoples magazine as he was the youngest crew member. he was 15 and a cabin boy. he was on the ninian from1/6/1950- 21/8/1950 and has lots of memories of his time of the woman travelling up and down the coast
Added by LILLIAN PATTERSON on 21 February 2017
I have "blown up" the picture and although still indistinct the number of letters on the ship's bow corresponds with the name St Magnus
Added by Brian Thomson on 21 February 2017
The local newspapers have lots of photos of the Nubian.
When contacted the said they were still on microfiche and hadn't been digitalised.
I have copied a lot from find my past in newspaper articles
I can send to your site if you would like to add them
Added by Lillian Patterson on 22 February 2017
The Ship is ST MAGNUS 2 she was sold for scrap in 1960 The ST Claire Was renamed ST MAGNUS 3 and she had an all steel superstructure She took over as the weekend ship I was engineers steward summer 1961 Jimmy Eastcroft was Chief Steward
Added by George Tait on 10 March 2017
This was the old Magnus. I mind leaving Shetland on this boat aged 14. I had been on holiday with my parents
Mum came from Voe. We eventually sailed onto Leith and I was allowed up to the bridge. I clearly remember the radar.
Added by Andy on 17 December 2017
What a lovely jog to the memory. I went on holiday with my parents & aunt and uncle July 1950. We sailed from Aberdeen on the new St Ninian, it had new stabilisers fitted but they didn’t work. The ship saw more vomit than the vomitorium in Bishops Palace in Kirkwall. We stayed at a farm at Grimness near St Margaret’s Hope with Sinclairs/Smiths. One of the daughters, Marion, was my sweetheart, I was 6. We sailed back on the old St Magnus. She was a coal burner according to my brother who worked on her at Hall Russells. Wonderful return trip. I was taken to see cows in the for’ard hold.
Added by Robert Davidson on 27 November 2019
Yes sure as I can be its Magnus III sailed on it several times coming back from Shetland at end of school holidays and had stopover in Orkney as a last treat.
Added by Andrew Young on 30 November 2019

Then search St Magnus
Added by Brian Thomson on 02 December 2019
picture #1521 is EX ST CLAIR
Added by Robert Kelday on 03 December 2019
In Edwin Muir's autobiography he describes sailing from Stromness to Leith in 1901. Any idea what the name of the ferry would have been ?
Added by Geraldine on 03 January 2024
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