Between Belfast and Bangor, Northern Ireland, is the Ulster Transport and Folk Museum at Cultra. It is a superb museum, with the main road dividing the two sections. Each part will keep you interested for a day and well worth a visit. In the transport part, which is several large buildings spaced out over landscaped grounds sloping down to the sea lough, there is a superb collection of steam and diesel engines, and a maritime building.
BY RONALD SMITH (SCOTLAND)
Outside the maritime section is a large hull, this is the Result, a schooner with a fascinating history. She is the last surviving Carrickfergus built ship. Carrickfergus is said to be named after Carrick (meaning rock in Irish Gaelic) and Fergus, the legendary king of Dalriada, the combined Northern Ireland and Scottish kingdom, who was on a ship coming to find a cure for his leprosy when it was driven ashore here on the rock, and he drowned.
Carrickfergus was always an important town and Paul Rogers owned the Carrickfergus Shipyard. Thomas Ashburner & Co commissioned him to build the Result. The design was worked out by Paul, Richard Ashburner and her captain to be, Robert Wright. It is said that they agreed on the broad design, and then decided to set about constructing her and see what resulted – hence the name Result. Construction started in 1892, but Rogers went bankrupt, so she was completed by Robert Kent & Co, and was launched on 6 January 1893. As built, she was 122 gross tons, 31.09 metres long, 6.61 metres breadth, 2.29 metres beam depth. Her initial traffic was bricks from the river Dee to Belfast. She continued to carry cargo es on coastal work until the start of World War I.
The Royal Navy devised a plan to combat the German U -boat menace. Torpedoes were expensive, and wherever possible, U-boats were expected to surface and shell the merchant ships. Submarines were vulnerable on the surface, and so “Q” ships were planned. The “Q” came from them initially being based at Queenstown, now Cobh, in County Cork. “Q ” ships were ordinary ships converted with hidden guns and torpedo tubes. The Result was commandeered by the Navy, and fitted with two guns on the hatch covers, which pivoted down out of sight. Camoufl aged torpedo tubes were fitted on the stern. In 1914 an auxiliary engine was fitted.
A MODEL AND LIFEBELT FROM THE RESULT AND A RARE ONE FROM WHEN SHE WAS CALLED FLASH FOR THE 1951 FILM.
The crew was augmented to 23 men, but as the normal complement for such a schooner was five, no more than five men were allowed on deck at any time. On 15 March 1917, German submarine UC-45 surfaced and opened fire on the Result. Although they fired steadily, it was rather inaccurate, so sailing master J Reid, with four men, took to a small boat and rowed round and round trying to look panic struck, to divert the sub. The remaining 18 crewmen sheltered, and eventually were able to fire at the sub: the first shot hit and damaged the U-boat which immediately dived and escaped. The Captain was Lieutenant Mack, and he and Reid were commended for their action. As they were returning to port they found another German sub, and exchanged fire with them, but again the sub escaped. It took two days to repair the damage to the Result, mostly to sails and rigging.
Their third and last encounter with the enemy was on 5 April 1917, when she was almost sunk by fire from a submarine. One shell hit the Result just at the waterline and caused an explosion in the magazine. Two crew men were injured. She started taking in water. When the Result opened fire, the submarine dived and escaped.
Repairs were effected again, but her career as a warship was cut short. The Navy discovered that the German sub had photographed the Result, so her cover was blown. She was decommissioned, disarmed, and returned to cargo trade in August 1917.
Between the wars, the Result carried on earning a living with various cargoes, until the Second World War provided such a demand for cargo that she made quite a profit. This allowed, in 1946, a refit, with larger hatches, a larger engine and a wheelhouse was built on deck.
In 1950, fame and glamour called when she was chartered to star in the Carol Reed award winning film ‘Outcast of the Islands’. In 1951, she was temporarily renamed Flash. The stars didn’t ever sail on her, the crew had to be dressed (and made up) to represent them, for which they received extra money, but it is said they were glad to eventually return to the ‘day job’!
A few years later, her main mast was removed to aid cargo handling, and carried on into the 1960s, when coastal trade became scarce as road transport took over. In 1967, she was considered for conversion to passenger carrying, but this did not happen and eventually, she was taken to Exeter city basin and laid up.
The Ulster Transport Museum found out about her and bought her in 1970. On 26 October 1970, a crew sailed her to Carrickfergus harbour and the next day she finally sailed her last voyage (so far) in pouring rain to Belfast where she was moored on the Lagan at Queen’s Quay.
The famous Harland and Wolff shipyard carried out some remedial work to restore her to the original 1893 condition. The wheelhouse, engine and propeller were removed, and some repair work undertaken. Then, on Sunday 1 April 1979, she was lifted onto a road trailer and taken to the Cultra museum, where she sits today. Eventually, it is planned to restore and re-rig her as a three masted topsail schooner.
It is great that she has been preserved, and if the future work returns her to her original condition, it will be a unique experience to climb aboard a genuine working schooner.
THE RESULT AT CULTRA MUSEUM.