Remains of 1864 wreck of American paddle steamer which foundered off Lundy in foggy conditions, having left the River Clyde for her first transatlantic voyage 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. Originally built as a ferry for the Clyde, she was constructed of iron with paddle wheels and a state-of-the-art twin cylinder oscillating engine.
The Iona II was built in 1863 at Govan as a fast ferry for the Clyde. Her fine hull and specially designed twin cylinder oscillating engine reputedly gave a top speed of 24 knots, and she was soon acquired by Charles Hopkins Boster of Richmond, Virginia, allegedly to run guns and supplies for the Confederate Forces in the American Civil War. She sank in 1864 on her first trans-Atlantic voyage amidst rumours about her cargo, and contemporary accounts describe intensive salvage operations. The wreck was rediscovered in 1976 by a diving company and partially excavated.
Designation Order: (No 2), No 2294, 1989
Made: 6th December 1989
Laid before Parliament: 13th December 1989
Coming into force: 3rd January 1990
Protected area: 50 metres within 51 11.03 N 04 38.78 W
Designation Order: (No 2), No 1340, 2006
Made: 16th May 2006
Laid before Parliament: 17th May 2006
Coming into force: 7th June 2006
Protected area: 150 metres within 51 11.0861 N 04 38.8594 W
Designation Order: (No 5), No 1468, 2006
Made: 5th June 2006
Laid before Parliament: 6th June 2006
Coming into force: 7th June 2006
Protected area: 50 metres within 51 11.0861 N 04 38.8594 W
No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides.
The Iona II was a paddle steamer built in 1863 at Govan by James and George Thompson to ply the Clyde between Glasgow and Ardrishaig and was exceptionally well fitted out. She was built as a fast ferry for the Clyde and had a top speed of 24 knots, being fitted with a 2-cylinder oscillating engine fitted with tubular boilers, superheaters and every well-tried improvement. The vessel originally had luxury passenger accommodation, a 75ft dining room and 180ft saloon with velvet sofas.
Given her speed, the Iona II was purchased by Charles Hopkins Boster of Virginia and was engaged as a Confederate blockade runner; it is believed she was stripped out for this clandestine voyage. In 1864, she was en route to Kingston, Jamaica via Madeira from the Clyde, Scotland with an undisclosed cargo and a crew of 40. It is probable that she was running without lights in dense fog to avoid detection and foundered 1 mile east of Lundy Island, North Devon on her first transatlantic voyage.
Further speculation as to her clandestine nature is fuelled by her failure to appear in 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 describing intensive salvage operations with a diving bell being used in her salvage.
Although exact details of the loss of the Iona II on 2nd January 1864 are unknown, salvage attempts were made shortly after her foundering.
The site was rediscovered by chance in 1976 by a professional diving company searching for the MV Robert, which sank some distance away in the previous year. The Iona II lies upright in 24m of water, south-east of Tibbett's Point. One of the professional divers set up a diving holiday business based on Lundy and at the same time began excavating part of the Iona II from the stern to the aft coal bunkers.
In assessing the site for designation in 1989, the Archaeological Diving Unit (ADU) observed that the vessel survives up to the turn in the bilges from stem to stern, with the boilers and machinery standing proud of the seabed. The paddle wheels were reported to have collapsed, but with everything there except the wooden paddles. The hull plating is reinforced with light angle iron frames.
The following year, Potters Bar SAC undertook photographic and other survey work while damage caused by interference from divers or anchors was observed by the ADU in 1991. Damage by fishing gear was also reported and from 1992, structural collapse has been observed.
In 2002, the Malvern Archaeological Diving Unit (MADU) carried out a survey of the site and the site was again visited by the ADU who undertook a comprehensive sidescan survey.
Reported unauthorised access led to the site's re-designation so as to exclude the Robert from the restricted area.