SS Volnay 1914

N50 04.373 W5 03.993

Timer revovered from an 18 pounder shell

SS Volnay was en route from Montreal to Plymouth via Barry. On Friday, 14th December 1914, the Volnay hit a German mine laid near the manacles by UC-64 captained by Erich Hecht. SS Volnay was carrying a general cargo as well as 18 pounder shells and phosphorus so it was a miracle she did not explode. No crew were killed or injured and Captain Henry Plough headed to Falmouth and managed to reach Porthallow Bay where she sank. Some of the cargo of food was washed ashore giving the locals an early Christmas present.

The  wreck has been dispersed over the years by both professional and amateur divers. The boilers are still prominent on the silty seabed. In the 60’s the wooden cases containing the 18 pounder shell stood 2m off the seabed but a considerable amount has be recovered.


Gow, Harrison & Co, Glasgow.

Gow, Harrison & Co, Glasgow.

The company was formed in 1895 by the amalgamation of Alan C. Gow & Co and P. H. Dixon & Harrison. Both companies contributed ships to the combined fleet. Up to 1913 the fleet consisted of dry cargo tramps but the company then branched out into tankers. By the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 Gow’s owned 18 ships but lost six to enemy action. Between 1925 and 1931, ten tankers were built for the company which were chartered to the large oil companies and in 1933 the last dry cargo tramp was sold. In 1939 six tankers were owned but only one was to survive the war together with two managed ships. Gow, Harrison was dissolved in 1951 but the Harrison family formed Harrisons (Clyde) Ltd in 1956 with the purchase of Dornoch Shipping Co and Nile SS Co. who owned three tramp ships. In 1960 the Monarch SS Co was taken over and in 1965 the company entered the bulker trade and formed the Aiden Shipping Co. to manage the bulk carriers. The company is still in existence.

Nationality:         British

Type:                     armed merchant ship

Built:                     In 1910 by Russell & Co. Ltd., Greenock

yard no.:              612

IMO/Off. no.:     129488

Owner:                 Gow, Harrison & Co., Glasgow

Tonnage:             4610  grt

Dimensions:       117 x 16 x 7.9 m

Engine:                 1 x 3 cyl. triple expansion engine, 2 boilers, single shaft, 1 screw

Power:                 449  h.p.

UC – 64 sunk 26 ships  (20,473 tons) and 4 ships damaged (14,012 tons)

UC-64 was mined in the Dover barrage. The mine exploded under the control room, crushing the interior and making it impossible for Admiralty divers who visited the wreck in 1918 to retrieve much from within it. The dive survey was conducted in 2014 and shows the damage in this area