The second of the trio J & G Thompson, Clydebank built ships, Lydia entered service in 1890. Designed by their celebrated marine architect, John Biles, she was fitted with triple expansion engines driving twin screws giving a service speed of 18 knots.
During a refit in the winter of 1898/99 Lydia's boilers were replaced and her funnel heightened. Requestioned by the Admiralty in 1915, Lydia served as a transport vessel until being released in 1919. She never resumed her pre-war role, being sold via a ship broker in 1919 to James Dredging, Towage and Transport Co., Southampton for use as an accommodation ship. In 1922 she was resold to Coast Lines Ltd. who ran her on a short lived service between Preston and Dublin.
Sold in 1923 to a Greek shipping company, Yannoulatos Ionian Lines, she was renamed Ierax. Taken over by Hellenic Coast Lines, Piraeus in 1929, Ierax was sold to Italy for scrapping in 1933.