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 ALBATROSS - Yard No 30 - Lightship - Irish Lights Built

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ALBATROSS - Yard No 30 - Lightship - Irish Lights Built


The Lightship ALBATROSS minus her lantern.

eases into her berth on the Medway on the Thames estuary.


The Irish Light Ship ALBATROSS is perhaps the oldest surviving ship from the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb.
Owners   Irish Lights, Dublin
Registered     Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Lightship Launched    20/10/1925
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall    102' 0" Launch Details    
Length B.P.     Weather    
Beam    24' 0" Time to Water    
Depth Moulded     13' 3"      
Other known names        
Current Status   Awaiting conversion on the River Medway    
Content on ALBATROSS will be added soon. 


The LightShip ALBATROSS seen here in Dublin harbour during the 1990's when she was used as some kind of art experiment, painted in a luminous green paint which gave of a very effective glow in the dark. - New, Secondhand, Rare Books

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 ABATROSS may have been the first ship built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb using the newly acquired Slipway as up to this point the previous ships had to be built in the Dry Dock at Leith. She was in fact the second ship built on one of the new acquired slipways from the old shipyard of Hawthorns & Co.

The Lightship ALBATROSS was an order from the Commissioners of Irish Lights, Dublin, and it is said that the cost of her build (£15,650)was paid for by the Germans as part of the war repatriation costs awarded at the end of World War one.

She was the first of such ships to be built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb.

Her Shell was of iron construction as were her floors, she had steel framing; five watertight bulkheads; a steel mast and fixed lantern; along with a mizzen mast carrying day mark.

She was based as a lightship around the Irish Coast as a help to shipping for 45 years from her build in 1925 to de-commissioning in 1970, when she was sold to the Scout Commission and was used as a scout training centre Moored in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

ALBATROSS was owned by the Scouts for about 16 years but was not suitable in the end as a training centre.  The costs to service it were climbing, she was moored as you see her and service to her was by launch. Fresh water, fuel, gas food etc. all had to be ferried out to her and the nearest slipway was ½ mile from her. We were also dumping sewage into the harbour and the local council had spent a fortune on a new sewage works resulting in much cleaner water in the harbour, so we really had no alternative but to shut her down.  We had tried to get a berth for her alongside but the whole project was going to cost serious money which the Scout Association simply did not have.(from Seamus McGloughlin)







In 1999 Dorothy Cross discovered the decommissioned lightship in a Dublin dockyard. It was painted a luminous green for an arts festival for the project 'Ghost Ship' (International Nissan Art Project Award).

Later the hull was painted black and the lightship, along with some other small vessels, appeared as a set in the movie "Reign of Fire" in which fire breathing dragons attack London (parts of Dublin being used to represent "London").

In 2000 the lightship was bought by James Tyrell of Arklow.

The lantern was placed on the North Quay in Arklow whilst the ship was taken back to Dublin and berthed at the entrance to the Grand Canal Basin close to the East Link Bridge.

ALBATROSS has now been towed to a new berth on the River Medway, where she will be converted into a ship to take Bed & Breakfast visitors, so she will be able to continue as a useful working vessel, the oldest that has been found from the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb.

We await news if this conversion is indeed to happen, so if anyone out there sees her berthed in the Medway then please get in touch with the website so we can update her history.

It is interesting to note that she was a sister ship to one built a couple of years previous at the Crane & Somerville Shipyard in Leith, a yard that was soon to be taken over by Henry Robb Shipyard. 



ALBATROSS has now been towed to a new berth on the River Medway, where she will be converted into a ship to take Bed & Breakfast visitors, so she will be able to continue as a usfull working vessel, the oldest that has been found from the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb.


ALBATROSS makes her way under the tugs to her new berth on the River Medway

(Photo taken by Simon Freeman on his phone)

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.


The mast and lantern from the lightship ALBATROSS now a very striking and unusual monument outside a property development in Dublin.



 ALBATROSS approaches her berth on the Medway

(Photo from Simon Freeman)


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.


This is a neat photograph of a later Ships bell from the old ship dated of course in 1971 her original bell would have been dated as 1925 when she was launched from the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb, the photograph is from the Irish Sea Cadets website

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

So if you know any of the men or women who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch and we shall add the story here. 


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0 #6 John Wilson 2017-09-25 15:53
I too was on the service crew with Seamus McGloughlin when it was the National Sea Training Centre of the Scout Association of Ireland. Great memories of the happy times aboard her, particularly of the scorching summer of 1976, the year I left school, when we seemed to spend all summer aboard.
We used to run various canoeing, saliing and boatmanship courses over weekends on her, and even, very occasionally, water skiing.
Great days and memories to last a lifetime!
Very happy to hear that she is to get a new lease of life.
+1 #5 aaron smyth 2014-11-26 23:21
Albatross is now being converted into a 3/4 bedroom luxury pad for my family and I to move onto, we have been working on it on the Medway for 8 months now and will add some pictures once it has been updated further.
0 #4 Seamus McGloughlin 2012-04-06 16:24
I was on the service crew on the Albatross when she was moored in Dun Laoghaire. She was moored in Dun Laoghaire from 1973 until she was sold by the Scouts, due to excessive running costs and problems with waste etc.
Great times were had by 100's of scouts on board over the years.
The lantern is actually at the entrance to a marine in Arklow Co.Wicklow.
0 #3 Simon 2011-06-13 15:33
I can confirm that the ship is parked in a marina on the Medway awaiting conversion.
0 #2 mark gillin 2011-04-04 23:31
i belonged to a sea scout troop on the wirral and every year made the journey to ireland and stayed for a week on the albatross. happy memmories sleeping in hamocks and lots of sailing and general ships duties great times and very character building about 1987
0 #1 Dean Harrison 2011-04-04 03:44
I am crew on the tug "sea trojan" we recently towed thie "Albatross" to the river Medway from Dublin where it is planned to convert her to a houseboat/holid ay home.

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