The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

The loss of the Lizzie Bain

On 6 November 1888, Lizzie Bain, a wooden smack built the previous year, left Scapa Pier at 11am to make her way to the south isles of Orkney with four tonnes of grocery goods. They intended to sell the items at the Port of Cale.

Some time later a sloop, the Elisabeth Buchan, passed the smack, which looked to be in trouble near the island of Fara. The wind was blowing hard and the crew on the Lizzie Bain were asked if everything was ok. They said nothing was broken and that they did not need any assistance.

The crew of the Elisabeth Buchan later stated at an inquiry into the loss of the ship that, when they saw the Lizzie Bain, it was around 4pm, and they felt that the place in which she was anchored was not safe and was in the way of passing vessels.

Around 11.30 that evening an iron screw steamer, the Queen, was coming through Weddell Sound. The evening was dark, but the visibility was fair, and although there were two men on watch, the ship collided with the Lizzie Bain.

Hearing a faint cry, the steamer quickly turned around to look for survivors. The search continued for an hour-and-three-quarters, but nothing was seen or heard of the crew.

Being able to do nothing more, the Queen made her way to Stromness where the accident was reported to the Receiver of Wreck. An inquiry found that no light had been seen from the Lizzie Bain and, once spotted, the Queen could do nothing to avoid the collision.

The three crewmen, George Rendale, Peter Sinclair and John Louttit, were drowned.