Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 136,353 pages of information and 219,137 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
1863 The Iona II was built at Govan by James and George Thomson as a fast ferry for the Clyde. She was said to have a fine hull and had specially designed twin cylinder oscillating engine, with tubular boilers and superheaters. The vessel originally had luxury passenger accommodation, a 75ft dining room and 180ft saloon with velvet sofas. Reputedly her top speed was 24 knots
She was soon afterwards acquired by Charles Hopkins Boster of Richmond, Virginia, allegedly to run guns and supplies for the Confederate Forces in the American Civil War.
1864 Iona was beaten by the new paddle steamer Mary Bowers in an unofficial race on the Clyde
1864 Iona sank on her first trans-Atlantic voyage off Lundy in foggy conditions, having left the River Clyde intending to sail via Madeira to Kingston in Jamaica and/or Nassau. There was contemporary speculation that the vessel was acting as a gun-runner for the Confederates in the American Civil War amidst rumours about her cargo. It is believed she was stripped out for this clandestine voyage.
Further speculation as to her clandestine nature is fuelled by her absence from the list of vessels cleared from ports in the UK to ports in North America during the year 1863 and in the Board of Trade papers at the time. Contemporary accounts described intensive salvage operations with a diving bell being used in her salvage.
1976 The wreck was rediscovered by a diving company and partially excavated.