The Loftsman
Leith Shipyards

A history of the Ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland. Also a testimony to the men who built the Ships and to all who sailed in them.
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Home Ships Built in Leith 1918 to 1939 SPINEL - Yard No 244 - Motor Cargo Vessel - W.Robertson & Co - Built 1937

Leith Shipyards

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SPINEL - Yard No 244 - Motor Cargo Vessel - W.Robertson & Co - Built 1937


The motor vessel SPINEL was a sister to JACINTH and was built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb for the Robertson Line of Glasgow.
Owners    W.Robertson & Co, Glasgow
Registered    Glasgow Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Cargo "Coaster" Launched    08/09/1937
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall     Launch Details    
Length B.P.    175' 0" Weather    
Beam    28' 6" Time to Water    
Depth Mld     17' 0"      
Draught    12' 0"      
G.R.T.    650      
DWT    830 tons      
Engines    Polar diesel engine      
Props    1      
Speed    9 knots      
Other known names        
Current Status   Broken up in 1970    

Content on  the MV SPINEL will be added as and when available. 



The Robertson Line Coaster M.V.SPINEL Ship No 244

(Photo credit unknown)


Ships History

Once a ship had been built and launched she then had to be out-fitted, and then complete sea trials
before being handed over to her new owners, who would look to have that ship at sea, as long as possible to pay for her build costs and of course to make the company good profits.

To this end one company may have had no requirement for a particular ship after a time and would then sell her on just like any other disposable commodity.
Hence a ship may have had a few owners and would go through many changes and names during what was hoped for a long and successful working life.

The motor vessel SPINEL was a typical modern "Coaster" built for the Robertson Line just a couple of years befor the outbreak of World War II


Wartime service

This TWO year old, new modern "Coaster" was requisitioned for war work by the British Ministry for War Transport just three days after the outbreak of World War IIon 6th September 1939. Her cargo was to be one of the most dangerous that of cased petrol for the supply at first of the British Expeditionary Force in France.

SPINEL took part in a few trips out of Bristol to the French coast with her cargo of cased petrol, but again was deemed to be a bit on the slow side for some of the convoys that were leaving for the coast.

So she was moved to run out of the ports of Southampton and Poole, with trips over to Caen.

SPINEL was to have an interesting role in World War II, as she was to serve with both sides during the conflict.

On one trip to France with a cargo of 600 tons of cased petrol she was headed for Dunkirk, there she survived many bombing raids while the advancing German armies were closing in on the only area of Northern Europe still open for the evacuation of Allied troops being battered by the enemy, she managed to unload some of her cargo despite being bombed and machine gunned from the sky, but then the harbour bridge was damaged in a raid and the ship was unable to leave port, so it was decided in the hopeless situation which was Dunkirk at this time, to abandon the ship.

The crew managed to get picked up by the troopship "Royal Daffodil" but had to leave the injured Bosun behind in hospital in Dunkirk.

The German army had her repaired and took over her, where she was to be based in the German occupied Channel Islands.

She was not returned to her owners at the Robertson Line in Glasgow until 1946, where she went back to her peace time cargo role around the British Isles, and she was to continue working the coast until being broken up in 1970.

We try here to give as full an account of her history as time and research permits, if you know of missing info
or you have any photographs of her, then please get in touch and we shall update her story as we go along.

Tales from the Ship

Here you will find the stories from the men and women who sailed on the ships, what was it really like to be working on a ship in a raging sea and in the pitch dark of night, the real stories some funny some sad, some good and some bad.

Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.

Should you know of anyone who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch so that we can add the story here.

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0 #1 Regis Chen 2014-03-22 17:22
What's the building cost of this ship in 1937?

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