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This page last updated January 2014.

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The origin of the name?
The Sound of Jura is a waterway in Scotland near the Western end of the Crinan Canal.

The Sound of Jura from Carsaig

The Sound of Jura from a lookout near Crinan

Want to know more about the Scottish Island of Jura?

'Sound of Jura'.
(Official No. 105977)
Built under yard no.305 by Russell & Co., Port Glasgow for the Sound of Jura Ship Co. Ltd. (C.A. Walker) Glasgow. Rigged as a four masted barquentine - delivered in Feb. 1896.
Specifications - Steel 1113grt - 210ft4in x 35ft7in x 19ft4in.

The 'Sound of Jura' was the fourth of five sister ships built by Russell & Co. Port Glasgow, the first being 'Oberon', commissioned in 1893. They were all four masted & known as 'Russell's Barquentines'. They were built at a time when sail was finding it increasingly difficult to compete with steam. These ships had an unusual rig to 'lighten the work' and make them 'easier to handle' thus needing less crew to operate. They also 'had part of their lower holds built as large tanks, which could be used as either normal cargo space or alternatively be flooded to serve as water ballast'. Not only was this potentially a substantial cost saver, it gave these vessels a tanker like capability, which in the case of the 'Sound of Jura' & the 'Westfield', (at least) made them useful in the transporting of whale oil. The others were, in order of construction dates, (& the order of the thumbs below) the 'Oberon' 1893, 'Renfield' 1895, 'Titania' 1895 & 'Westfield' 1896.

Russell & Co. were prolific shipbuilders and at one stage were the largest privately owned shipbuilding company in the world.

At the Broomielaw Glasgow with the tug Victor early 1900s
This photo was just recently posted (24 July 08) on the Ships Nostalgia website by bill015 from Scotland. Another member - stein - who is very knowledgeable on sailing ships, identified this photo as probably being 'Sound of Jura', and certainly one of the five sister ships mentioned above. By comparing this photo with the one at top of this page, it could be said that this is almost certainly 'Sound of Jura'. Bill points out that the tug Victor was built in 1906, which means this photo was taken sometime between then and when the 'Sound of Jura' was fitted with a steam engine in 1916.
1896 - 1911

Some record of the movements of the Sound of Jura have come to light with the process to digitise all old Australian newspapers. 100% to all involved in providing this invaluable resource.

The earliest newspaper records show Sound of Jura arriving at Newcastle NSW after a 42 day journey from Algoa Bay.
Leaving Newcastle with a cargo of coal for Callao (near Lima Peru) June 21st, arriving August 27th.

Arrived Bunbury West Australia from Capetown under Captain Gordon. Loaded Jarrah timber.
Arrived London August.

Arrived Newcastle August from Algoa Bay.
Sailed for Callao with coal September.

Arrived Newcastle in ballast from Delagoa Bay.
Sailed with coal for Guayaquil.

Loaded wheat at Port Augusta May for Concepcion.

Cleared Sydney April with coal from Newcastle, bound for Guaymas.
Arrived Newcastle November from Guayaquil.
Leaves Newcastle with coal for Caldera.

Read more about the installation of the diesel here

Read more about the 'Fram' here

And much more detail about the 'Fram'

More reading on the early development of the marine diesel

1911 - sold to Southern Whaling & Sealing Co.

The 'Sound of Jura' was purchased by the newly formed Southern Whaling & Sealing Co. in 1911, to provide a role as a cargo transporter, and was probably chosen, as her design enabled her to transport bulk whale oil and other provisions for the proposed whaling operations.
To make her less dependent the wind and less dependent on the use of tugs, the Smith's Dock Co. Middlesborough, was commisioned to install a diesel auxiliary. The use of the marine diesel engine was in its relative infancy, and the 'Sound of Jura' was among the first vessels of her type to be fitted with one.
The famous ship the 'Fram' had been installed with a 'Polar' diesel engine by the Swedish manufacturer A.B. Diesel Motorer of Stockholm, in 1910, and was at this time still involved in the successful Roald Amundsen expedition to the South Pole. The same company was chosen to supply the slightly larger diesel engine for the 'Sound of Jura'.
After initial problems, the 'Fram' engine was apparently trouble free. The following from an account of the voyage:
'For the first day or two the engine went well enough, but after that it went slower and slower, and finally stopped of its own accord. After this it was known as the 'Whooping Cough'. This happened several times in the course of the trip; the piston-rods had constantly to be taken out and cleared of a thick black deposit. As possibly our whole South Polar Expedition would depend on the motor doing its work properly, the result of this was that the projected cruise was cut short, and after a lapse of three weeks our course was set for Bergen, where we changed the oil for refined paraffin, and at the same time had the motor thoroughly overhauled. Since then there has never been anything wrong with the engine'.
The 'Sound of Jura' was not to meet with the same success with her engine though. The following from the official log on her second (1912-13) trip to South Georgia.
'24-09-12. 11.30am, A heavy explosion was heard in the engine room, which was found to be caused by the bursting of the air reservoir, injuring Wm B. Teasdale, assistant engineer, internal, and from which he died at 2pm. George Rochester - Master'.
The diesel in the 'Sound of Jura' was apparently not repaired, but removed, which would indicate that it had not been a success prior to the explosion. She was fitted with an auxiliary steam engine in 1916.

1912-13 An eventful trip to South Georgia

As just seen, on the outward voyage from Glasgow, the engine had exploded, killing the assistant engineer. The apparent first port of call was Port Alexander, in Angola, where the Southern Whaling & Sealing Co. had a whaling base. However, she had a brief stopover at the nearby port of Mossamedes instead, before continuing on to South Georgia which she reached on the 13/2/1913. After a relatively brief stopover where she took on her cargo of bulk whale oil, she left for her return trip on the 17/3/1913.

'24-3-13 Noon - While the crew were furling the foresail a heavy squall struck the ship & caused her to lurch heavy to leeward, & the foremast buckled right over at the truss-band, throwing the men from aloft. Killing William Robertson, O.S.; & injuring severely J. Swanton, boatswain; T. Stone, sailor; J. Peterson, sailor; R. Paterson, sailor; A. Rasmussen, sailor; A. Noble, sailor; R. Felp, sailor; & J. Hendick, O.S. We got them into the forecastle & attended to them to the best of our ability. George Rochester - Master'.

There are several conflicting accounts of what exactly happened after that, but this newspaper article which is attached to the rear of an oil painting of the 'Sound of Jura' owned by a grandaughter of Capt. Rochester is probably the most factual, comparing it to detail in the ship's log and Lloyd's casualty reports for 1913.

Whaling Barques Eventful Voyage
Effects of heavy weather & beri-beri
SOUTH SHIELDS _ FRIDAY ? (probably July 25th 1913)
'Details were officially furnished today to our Shields correspondent of the terrible voyage of the whaling barque Sound of Jura, which was carrying a valuable cargoe of oil from South Georgia to Glasgow. The oil had been collected from the fleet of the Southern Whaling & Sealing Co., owned by R. Irvine & Co. North Shields. The Sound of Jura had been 90 days out on March 24th, & nine men were engaged aloft furling the foresail when a heavy squall struck the vessel, carrying away the foremast & hurling all the men violently to the deck. One of them, William Robertson, an apprentice belonging to South Shields was killed outright. The other men were badly injured, & were carried into the forecastle clear of the wreckage, where they received such attention as could be given them. The vessel was for some time in jeopardy owing to the enormous quantity of wreckage hanging over her side, and owing to the violent weather. The remaining men had to cut spars and masts away to prevent them holing the vessel by the sea dashing against them. Thomas Stone, a seaman, died a week later from his injuries. Captain Rochester put the vessel's head to the west to seek assistance, but nearing the equator all the crew sickened with beri - beri, except the Captain and a North Shields apprentice named Nendick who was the only one available to take charge of the wheel. A seaman named Petersen, who was also injured, succumbed to the disease. Ten days later another seaman named R. Paterson, belonging to Leith also died from sickness. For two months the vessel drifted in a dismasted condition and assistance was sought from three steamers, but they had no medical men on board. On June 13th the Newcastle steamer 'Uskmoor', commanded by Captain Carr of Durham City, hove into sight, but owing to the weak state of those who remained on the deck of the whaler they were unable to handle any ropes, and the 'Uskmoor's' crew had to proceed off in the lifeboat and render assistance in securing the towrope to the vessel. After being towed for five days the Sound of Jura reached St Vincent , Cape Verde Islands'.

Then the following from the 1913 Lloyd's List casualty reports supplied by maritime expert David Asprey.

St. Vincent 19 Jun: SOUND OF JURA. Foremast carried away 4 feet above deck, lost yard & rigging. Vessel has sustained no damage. Mast fitted in tank; the vessel cannot be repaired without discharging bulk oil; no spars available. Recommend that she should be towed to her destination. Crew down with beri-beri except Captain, First Officer.

St. Vincent 2 July: SOUND OF JURA proceeded for Glasgow towed by tug SCHELDE.

Click for larger view of Mossamedes

Fred Henderson was ship's carpenter on the fateful 1912-13 voyage as well as the original one in 1911-12.

Fred's son Peter of Northumberland, England, kindly supplied the above image & details of his father's connection with the 'Sound of Jura'. He also supplied the image of SOJ which is the basis for the banner at the top of these pages as well as information obtained with an interview with Gillian Anderson of North Shields. Gillian's mother was Queenie, being daughter of Capt. George Rochester.

SS Uskmoor

Model of the tug 'Schelde'

1913-14 & 1914-15

I have no details of the following two years, but almost certainly the 'Sound of Jura' returned to Prince Olaf Harbour, South Georgia. At the time there was no shore base there, and the processing of the whales was done by the factory ship 'Restitution'.

The diary was made available by Rhona Casson of Scotland, the daughter of Hetty Rochester. Rhona also has an oil painting of the 'Sound of Jura' being towed from the port of North Shields.

This photo of the Rochesters taken in about 1908. l to r Harriet, Queenie, Hetty & George.

1915-16 The diary of Hetty Rochester

On this voyage to South Georgia, Capt. George Rochester was accompanied by his wife, Harriet, & daughters Hetty & Queenie. Hetty, then aged about fifteen, kept a diary of the voyage in an old unused 1908 Nautical Diary.
The 'Sound of Jura' left Penarth, Wales, on May 22nd 1915, arriving at Port Alexander (Portuguese West Africa) on August 16th after an uneventful voyage. After a stay of almost two months, during which time Hetty went on a whale hunt & also visited the nearby settlement of Mossamedes, the 'Sound of Jura' continued on to Cape Town.
The diary entries & other information can be found on the Port Alexander page. Some interesting points are that there was a shore based whaling station operating at the time, & the whaling boats mentioned were the 'C.O.J.', the 'Southern Sea' & the 'Southern Sky'. The 'C.O.J.' was built as a diesel catcher in 1911 but had been re-engined with steam in 1913. She was lost in September 1915, presumably off Port Alexander, with the loss of 10 lives. The following year the'Southern Sky', became part of history when she was used by Sir Ernest Shackleton in his first rescue attempt of the stranded Endurance party on Elephant Island.

The 'Sound of Jura' left Port Alexander on 15th October 1915, probably with a cargo of whale oil as the diary entry on 13th October 'Dressed Kaffir's finger which had been squashed by a drum of oil weighing nearly half a ton' would indicate. She was towed to Cape Town by the 'Southern Sea' & 'Southern Sky' arriving on the 24th October.

During her stay of around 3 weeks at Cape Town, Hetty became friendly with the crew of the H.M.S. Glasgow, which was famous for the ultimate demise of the 'Dresden', on March 14th 1915, after the Battle of the Falklands. You can read her account of this stopover here.

After a 54 day journey from Cape Town, the 'Sound of Jura' arrived at South Georgia on 8th January 1916. She was towed into Leith Harbour by the 'Southern Sea'. A full account of the time spent here can be read on the Prince Olaf Harbour page. On Monday 6th March, the 'Sound of Jura' was towed from Prince Olaf Harbour by the 'Southern Sky' for her return journey to Falmouth with 9,100 barrels of whale oil. She arrived at Falmouth on June 3rd 1916, with the only notable occurrences being the death of Russian sailor D. Wikman on May 17th & the death of Swedish sailor Johann Sunblaad on June 1st.

Several days later, on 6th June she left for London, where she arrived on 11th June after being towed part of the way. On the 26th June she was towed all the way to Aberdeen, arriving on 2nd July, where she was soon to be fitted with a steam engine.

1916-17 Sound of Jura becomes a steamship

The port of Aberdeen had many suppliers of steam engines, and yards available to instal them, as they were involved in this practise with the herring steam drifters of the time. Steam drifters were built at many small boatyards around the Scottish coast, & towed to Aberdeen to have their engines & boilers installed, as well as having their steel deckhouses fitted.
The triple expansion steam engine fitted in the 'Sound of Jura' had very similar specifications to those fitted in the steam drifters of the time.

Steam engine 42nhp 285IHP 4kn fitted at T. Abernethy & Co. Ltd. Aberdeen
Boilers by J. Lewis & Sons. Aberdeen. Length of engine room 21.3ft.

At this time Richard Irvin had extensive interests in the herring fishing industry through his 'East Coast Herring Drifter Co.' & would have been well aware of the reliability of these steam engines. After this installation, the 'Sound of Jura' was officially known thereafter as a steamer.
After returning to her home port of North Shields, the 'Sound of Jura' left for her annual trip to South Georgia on 27th Sept 1916. Onboard as ship's carpenter was a Duncan McIntosh, whose family had been building fishing boats at the small village of Portessie, near Buckie for almost a century. Duncan had obtained his qualifications as a Shipbuilder at this yard in 1909.
The voyage to South Georgia was undertaken with no stopovers in a little under three months, arriving on 18th December 1916. The shipping archives now refer to her as a steamship (formerly a sailer). This was not destined to be a lucrative whaling season for the SWSC, as their whaling factory ship 'Restitution', had foundered off the Scilly Isles whilst on the same voyage to South Georgia in November 1916.
It could be assumed that the building of a shore station at Prince Olaf Harbour had been planned, and the 'Sound of Jura' was carrying a cargo of building materials along with her normal cargo on this outward journey. A little over three months later, the diary of Frank Hurley recorded on 29th March 1917
'--- Returned to our mooring alongside the Sound of Jura, an auxiliary barque anchored in Restitution Harbour. We were hospitably entertained by the Skipper, with whom we took and enjoyed meals, and inspected the large station now under construction for the Irvin Co.'

Prince Olaf Harbour 2005 - pic by Richard Parsley. Click for a gallery of related images.

The Sound of Jura left shortly after on 10th April 1917 - bound for Montevideo in ballast, arriving there on 25th April. Four crew members were left at hospital here, and one member deserted. Extra crew were signed on as replacements, and Sound of Jura set sail on 11th May for Baltimore, presumably because of the German submarine menace around Britain. After arriving at Baltimore on 4th August 1917, a sizeable number of the ship's crew signed off.

Sound of Jura returned to South Georgia for the 1917 - 18 season, returning to Birkenhead via Montevideo, where Captain Rochester signed off on 11th August. That was to be her last voyage to South Georgia, as the Southern Whaling & Sealing Co. were taken over by Lever Brothers in 1919, and the ownership of the Sound of Jura was transferred to Irvin & Johnson (South Africa) Ltd.

Captain George Rochester made his last trip on the Sound of Jura, when he took her to South Africa in 1919. He had been her Captain since 1911. Sound of Jura then took on a new role as a transporter to the Kerguelen Islands, which she fulfilled until 1927.

After returning from Kerguelen in 1927 she was laid up in Saldanha Bay as a coal hulk, her register was closed in 1931 & she was sold to the Dunswart Iron & Steel Ltd. works in 1938 for demolition. A former Master, Captain Walmsley, lived aboard her for many years, keeping a large poultry farm aboard, the roosters waking the local residents each morning.

The figurehead of the Sound of Jura survived, and can be seen on display at the Iziko South African Maritime Museum, Cape Town.

For more info on steam engines CLICK HERE

Duncan McIntosh - ships carpenter 1916-17

Sound of Jura figurehead at Iziko S.A. Maritime Museum

Sources & acknowledgements
'The Last of the Windjammers' - Lubbock
'Deep Water Sail' - Underhill
Maritime History Archive - University of Newfoundland
Rudder magazine
Peter Henderson
Mrs Rhona Casson - grandaughter of Capt. George Rochester
Auke Palmhof - Rootsweb Mariners List
David Asprey - Rootsweb Mariners List
Ian B. Hart - author & South Georgia whaling expert
Tim & Pauline Carr
Iziko SA Maritime Museum