THE SUNDERLAND SITE - PAGE 015
SHIPWRECKS and GROUNDINGS
To search for specific text on this page, just press 'CTRL + F' & then enter your search term.
A chronological listing of the wrecks which are referenced on this site, follows in the table below. But, as a further aid to your navigation of this page & site, I provide 2 alphabetic lists - a) of wrecks already listed & b) of wrecks yet to be listed.
Note as time advances, I seem to be using the word 'wrecks' to cover not only true wrecks but also groundings - which also are interesting.
a) Wrecks already listed on site, mostly on this page :- Afon Towy, Arendal, Dora, Efos, Emily Smeed, Fishing Boats 1869, James Horn, J. B. Eminson, Jernaes, Loch Cree, Marjory Hastie, Orion, Ottercaps (1 & 2), Peña Rocias, Regfos, Sentinel, Quillota, Tenterden, Violante
b) Wrecks yet to be listed on site:- Abasota, Abbotsford, Active, Alangueta, Amelia, Ashanti, Cornwall, Denham, Eva, Fame, Gefle, General Havelock, Geziena, Gladys, Gran, Indianic, Lord Roberts, Maliano, Mazeppa, Name unknown - 1, Povena, Raloo, Sara, Sleipner, UC-32, Westhampton, Zealand - but there are many, many more.
There were a great many shipwrecks at Sunderland over the centuries. This page will record those that I 'come across' as this total site advances.
It is said that every journey starts with a single step, As this page commenced in May 2009, we had data about one shipwreck only. Today we have rather more but still a tiny fraction, I am sure, of all of the wrecks that have occurred in the Sunderland vicinity. Hopefully data will soon be located about some at least of the other notable shipwrecks. Corrections, however small, in the data on this page are invited. As is data about other wrecks that occurred at or near Sunderland.
1 1866 TENTERDEN
A schooner, built at Newcastle in 1815, later owned at Sunderland, that went aground, at South Pier, South Shields, on Apl. 2, 1866.
2 1869 FISHING BOATS
The rescue of the crews of Scottish fishing boats in Jun. 1869, where the boats likely would have sunk.
3 1877 LOCH CREE
An iron barque, that was stranded on the bar near Sunderland North Pier, on Oct. 14, 1877.
4 1877 JAMES HORN
A 160 ton schooner that was stranded at South Outlet, Sunderland, on Oct. 25, 1877.
5 1881 J. B. EMINSON
A collier, of 1031 tons, built by Short's at Sunderland, that went aground, at Sunderland North Pier, on Feb. 7, 1881.
6 1894 DORA
A collier, of 636 tons, built by Blumer's at North Dock, Sunderland, that went aground, at Roker, on Jan. 7, 1894.
7 1894 JERNAES
A Norwegian barque which was wrecked off Hendon beach, on Oct. 21, 1894.
8 1899 VIOLANTE
A cargo ship wrecked 1/2 mile south of Souter Point, on May 24, 1899.
9 1901 QUILLOTA
A fully rigged iron sailing ship, built by R. Steele of Greenock, Scotland, that was driven ashore, at Hendon, on Nov. 12, 1901.
10 1903 EMILY SMEED
A barquentine, built by 'Smeed', of Sittingbourne, Kent, that went aground at Roker, on Oct. 13, 1903 or maybe a little earlier.
11 1904 PEÑA ROCIAS
A 1730 ton cargo ship, built in 1889 by Wm. Gray of West Hartlepool, that went aground at the South Dock pier, on Feb. 13, 1904 or maybe a day or so earlier.
12 1906 ARENDAL
An 1855 cargo ship, which went aground on Mar. 26, 1906, arriving at Sunderland with a cargo of pitprops.
13 1913 ORION
A German collier of 1624 tons which was driven ashore at Roker Pier in a gale on Jan. 21, 1913 & broke in two.
14 1923 SENTINEL
A Royal Navy cruiser of 2900 tons which ran aground at Seaburn in 1923 while en route to the ship breakers.
15 1927 EFOS
A British coaster/collier of 1245 tons which was driven ashore at Roker Pier in a gale on Nov. 27, 1927, & later was re-floated.
16 1941 MARJORY HASTIE
A trawler, ashore at Marsden Bay in Feb. 1940. The vessel was owned by the 'Hasties', a well known trawler family.
17 1947 REGFOS
A collier, built by Pickersgill in 1910, which survived both World Wars. It ran aground at White Steel Rocks, Whitburn, on Mar. 8, 1947. She survived that encounter too!
18 Date unknown AFON TOWY
A coaster, built by Dibles (1918) Limited at Southampton in 1919, It is stated to have run aground in the River Wear but the date & exact location of such grounding is unknown.
As I add the image below to the site, I can tell you little about Tenterden, the ship concerned - just the words at left which accompanied the image. The vessel was a Sunderland ship, it would seem. Perhaps we will be able to find additional data about the ship & the 1866 circumstances to add in here in due course.
But ... I read that the vessel was swept onto the partly constructed South Pier, at South Shields, that there were heavy seas & gales at the time, & that the vessel was a schooner. Seven were aboard her, including the Master's wife & her baby - presumably the lady & baby you can see below. The first rocket line was not successful but later lines were since all seven were saved. Those modest details from Google data 'snippets'.
Perhaps we can yet find more?
It is interesting to note that this rescue was the first rescue ever by any Volunteer Life Brigade, the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade having only been formed in Jan. 1866.
The image below was scanned, I thought, from a page in a very old book. But that is not, in fact, so, though the event depicted dates to 1866. While the 'Watson' engraving would seem to be from the collection of the 'South Tyneside Public Libraries & Museums', the book in which the engraving appeared is quite recent - a volume published in 1979 by 'Frank Graham', of Newcastle, entitled 'Northumberland and Durham - A Social and Political Miscellany', ISBN 0859831132, of 96 pages. So we thank Frank Graham, who may very well be the author also.
I indicated above that I can tell you very little about Tenterden. But Don Hayward has now been in touch to advise that his ancestor Isaac Hayward was the Mate and Isaac's older brother William was the Master of Tenterden - as per the census of 1861 (which census was handed in at Portsmouth since the ship was en route to that port at the time). Don, who is searching for data both re the ship & his early family history, is not aware whether either Isaac or William were aboard Tenterden when the vessel foundered at South Shields in 1866.
Now the webmaster has, over the years, downloaded many early editions of Lloyd's Register, mainly ex Google Books. There are many gaps in the date sequence but they are a fine source none-the-less for the purpose at hand - trying to identify which particular Tenterden foundered at South Shields all those years ago. In all of the Register editions that the webmaster has available, from 1830 thru 1866/67 in this case, there would seem to have been only one Lloyd's registered vessel of the name. The last year for which there is a Tenterden recorded is re 1866/67, the bottom entry here. In the 1866/67 issue, Tenterden is listed as being of 113 tons, snow rigged, 65.6 ft. in length, built at Newcastle in 1815, & owned & captained by S. Luckly of Sunderland. This may however not be the correct Tenterden because S. Luckly was the Captain in every register issue that I have available back to 1852/53. I could spot no reference to William Hayward having been its captain, even around the date of 1861. In 1848/49 & in years prior to that, the vessel was rigged as a brig. In 1848, the North of England Maritime Directory lists Tenterden as being then owned by J. Taylor, of Sunderland. No reference to its being a schooner.
Should any site visitor have data to better identify the ship concerned, do be in touch with the webmaster. I will gladly pass on to Don Hayward, any information which might assist him in his search for data.
Keith Robertson has kindly drawn to my attention the details of the Tenterden rescue as set out in contemporary newspapers, available here on the website of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade. It would seem that the vessel was got off a couple of weeks later & was towed around to Sunderland. It now seems 100% certain that the Tenterden in question was built at Newcastle in 1815. ON 2681. It is referenced in Turnbull's Register of 1856 & also in Christie's Shipping Register of 1858 - then owned by William Adamson of Sunderland. Rather than S. Luckly of Sunderland, as recorded in Lloyd's Registers.
We thank Alec Jones for the fine pair of copyrighted images which follow - of a wreck which had previously been buried in the sands but became exposed by the scouring of the tides in 2013. It is located at about the spot, near to the South Pier at South Shields, where Tenterden sank all those years ago, back in April of 1866. While the identity of the newly exposed wreck is at present unknown, it is intriguing to think it might one day be identified, perhaps by the now visible construction details including the ship's iron deck supports. Could it be the Tenterden? While that is a possibility it is only a possibility at this stage. Hopefully, one day soon, the wreck will be identified - Alec will keep us informed - thanks Alec!
The images which follow are essentially thumbnails of the giant original images. Click each image to see a rather larger version of each image. And you are invited to view more images of the wreck via Alec Jones's 'Flickr' page.
In Aug. 2014, Ian Robertson was kindly in touch to advise that the wreck - on the Herd Sand apparently - has been identified. It is not of Tenterden, but rather of the Constance Ellen of Littlehampton, which foundered on Nov. 12, 1901. He adds that 'the reason the wreck is so well preserved is because it was carrying steel rails when it foundered'. The Captain of the Constance Ellen, in gratitude for his crew's rescue most likely, left a legacy to the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade which still provides income after all these years.
Alec Jones is clearly aware of the wreck's identity & has some more wonderful images of the wreck on that 'Flickr' page, such as this fine image. And this image which shows what a brigantine like Constance Ellen would have looked like.
The Constance Ellen, I learn, was a brigantine built by 'Martin' at Porthcawl, near Cardiff, Wales, in 1871 - for 'Brogdn & Co.' of Swansea. Of 171 tons, 103.2 ft. long, ON 65523, signal letters KTCV. At the time of its loss, in 1901, Joseph Robinson of Littlehampton was the vessel's managing owner.
We thank Keith Cockerill for the following little story, ex a book entitled 'Wearside Wedges' - written by J. H. Meek & published in 1912. Keith advises that the book is full of short humorous stories about Sunderland folk, all written in the vernacular Sunderland dialect - which may be a little difficult to understand at first.
A 'Wearside Wedge' was a nickname for a Sunderland shipwright or carpenter in the days of wooden ships. The word 'wedge' probably because a significant part of a shipwright's duties was to split timbers.
It would seem that 50 lives were saved in the gales that day, back in Jun. 1869.
It would seem that this vessel may not, in fact, have been wrecked - read on!
There are a few WWW references to this Oct. 14, 1877 rescue, in which the Roker 'Volunteer Life Brigade' saved all 19 who were aboard Loch Cree, an iron barque, stranded on the bar near the North Pier at Sunderland. The rescue was notable because it was the very first success for the Brigade, which had only been formed just a few months earlier, in March of 1877. The rescue was surely widely reported at the time. And was widely & publicly praised. But there seems to be no detail presently WWW available as to what exactly happened that day, what happened to the vessel (did it in fact founder?), even no detail as to which particular vessel it was.
It would seem that Loch Cree was being towed into Sunderland harbour during a North Sea gale. The vessel had a crew of 18 & a pilot was aboard also. I presume that the tow must have broken, & the vessel became stranded upon a bar close to the North Pier.
Close to the North Pier? You should understand that the Roker Volunteer Life Brigade, as all of the Volunteer Life Brigades, did not operate lifeboats - that was the sole province of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. What the brigade did was to effect rescues via breeches buoy.
The webmaster is not 100% sure that the vessel shown above is the correct Loch Cree. But .. that said, there was only one vessel of the name listed in Lloyd's Register. Image thanks to Photoship.
A rocket, with a light line attached to it, was fired from shore by mortar over the vessel in difficulty. Substantial ropes were then pulled through the seas to the endangered vessel by the vessel's crew & made tight, resulting in a taught line along which survivors, one by one, could be dragged to safety by breeches buoy. (You can see what a breeches buoy looks like here & a demonstration of its use here). And next, you can see a breeches buoy in actual use saving lives. We thank 'Wrecks & Rescues: Shelter from the Storm', by Alison Gale, for the image, which has however been modified for better presentation on this page. And we also thank 'Tyne & Wear Museums' in whose collection the actual print is, I see, held.
I read that the Brigade was summoned to help by a Coastguard rocket fired just before 10 p.m. - on Oct. 13, 1877? A line was soon fired to Loch Cree, but the vessel's crew decided to stay aboard the vessel at that time. Some 5 hours later, at about 3:00 a.m. next morning, the intensity of the gale reached the point where the 19 had no choice but to abandon the ship. Another Brigade rocket was fired, & by breeches buoy all of the 19 aboard were safely landed within the hour.
It would be good to locate some contemporary reports of the rescue, to hopefully provide more detail, to name the Loch Cree captain, & the ship that was towing her, & detail the tonnage & ownership data of Loch Cree. I cannot tell you for sure about Loch Cree. There was, however, only one vessel of the name listed in Lloyd's Register, but it was listed as a fully rigged ship rather than a barque, & was in service for a great many years after 1877. It was built at Port Glasgow in 1874. You can see the Lloyd's Register listings for Loch Cree here - just those of the applicable years - the 1878/79 listing in fact indicates that damage was repaired in 1877. A greater degree of detail about the Loch Cree that went aground would be needed to confirm that the Loch Cree referenced in Lloyd's Register was the vessel in question. And if that does prove to be the correct vessel, it surely did not founder. Rather the vessel (Miramar listing, though you must register to access the page) would have to have been salvaged, repaired, & lived on to fight many more gales at sea. It barely survived one such experience, in early 1895, when in a hurricane that lasted many days, Loch Cree lost masts & sails & barely made it back to safety at Brisbane, Australia. As you can read here - find the article via the left column, near the bottom. It was later renamed Giovanna B. in 1904, & Castagna in 1912, & was wrecked at Wellfleet, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on Feb. 17, 1914.
You are encouraged to read this brief account (top item) of the Sunderland Loch Cree rescue.
If you can add to or correct this history, your contribution would be welcomed.
An image of a painting (by an unknown artist) of a barque named Loch Cree, likely, the more I think about it, the vessel in question. Ex Wikipedia Commons, ex the State Library of Victoria, Australia.
I include this vessel to record the vessel's grounding at South Outlet, Sunderland, on Oct. 25, 1877, a grounding in which the lives of 8 seamen were in danger. And in which the life of the vessel probably came to an end. An assumption, based upon the limited data that is available.
The vessel was built in 1865 by David Burns at Aberdeen, Scotland. A 160 (later 151) ton schooner, 91 ft. 6 in. long, built for 'Commercial Lime Co.', later 'Aberdeen Commercial Lime Co.', of Aberdeen. ON 53243. Signal letters JVKH. Intended for, I presume, the carriage of lime - intended voyages are referenced to the Baltic. Described as being '1 deck, 2 masts, brigantine rigged, eliptical stern, carvel built, male figurehead'.
I cannot tell you what exactly happened on Oct. 25, 1877. Just that, per the 'Sunderland Echo', the vessel ran aground at the South Outlet & that the South or South Sunderland 'Volunteer Life Brigade' saved the lives of 8 seamen, likely the whole crew. Could it be that the vessel was at Sunderland to load lime from the lime kilns located on the north bank of the River Wear, west of the bridges?
A summary of the available listings in Lloyd's Registers is here thru 1876/77. Note that while I do not have the register of 1877/78 available to me, there is no listing for the vessel in the 1878/79 edition of Lloyd's Register.
The vessel was presumably named after James Horn, a merchant, who was one of three shareholders in the vessel.
a) a brief 'Sunderland Echo' reference, to the 1877 grounding of the vessel & the saving of the lives of 8 seamen by the South or South Sunderland 'Volunteer Life Brigade' - 'On October 25, the same year, the South Division received its baptism by saving eight seamen from the schooner, James Horn, which had stranded at the South Outlet'.
b) data, available here about the vessel, thanks to 'www.aberdeenships.com'.
c) An expired (Sep. 25, 2011) eBay listing - of documents related to the estate of James Horn, of Pitmeddon House, Oyne, Aberdeenshire, one of three shareholders in the vessel. James Horn died on Feb. 13, 1874. Offered by eBay vendor 'cigsy'.
On Feb. 7, 1881, J. B. Eminson, a collier, ran aground & was wrecked at Sunderland North Pier. 'Eminson' is not a very common family name. But there was one J. B. Eminson, who was from 1869 to 1896, the chief financial agent of the Marquis of Londonderry family, noted colliery & land owners, at Seaham. Indeed, on Sep. 9, 1880, when a major disaster occurred at the Seaham Colliery with a great many mine workers losing their lives, J. B. Eminson was the manager of that colliery. A Justice of the Peace, & a prominent member, most certainly, of Seaham society at the time. The vessel was a collier, likely owned by the Londonderry family or someone related to the family in some way, & was surely named after J. B. Eminson.
The vessel was built, of iron, in 1875, by Short Brothers of Sunderland. Hull # 71. 1031 tons gross, 220.0 ft. - or 67.1 metres long, perpendicular to perpendicular. Launched Sep. 18, 1875. Vessel #68928. Owned by J. O. Clazey. The Miramar reference is here, (but you need to be registered to see that item today). It would seem that there was a lithograph published, in or about 1875, of its then innovative self-trimming hatchways. A page in 'The Engineer' of Apl. 14, 1876 featured an illustration of 'Spence's Improved Sea Cocks', installed in J. B. Eminson, as you can see here in May 2013.
A site visitor, Sharon Spry of U.S.A., has kindly written into the guestbook as you can read next & see here.
Regarding the J. B. Eminson, J. O. Clazey could have been either John Oswald Clazey or James Oswald Clazey. Both had business arrangements with Lord Londonderry. In Lord Londonderry papers online, mention is made of one ship owned by the Clazeys ... this may be a second ship because it is my understanding that it was sold ... after the death of John and sank in the North Sea on its way to Germany with a load of coal. (Now see next paragraph). John and James Clazey were brothers to my great great great grandfather, George Oswald Clazey who left England in 1841 and settled in New York State. His son ... also a James Oswald Clazey returned to England, attended Durham College and became a schoolmaster. This was a profession pursued by both his uncles until they became involved with Lord Londonderry. (James was a schoolmaster in one of his schools in 1841).
And Sharon adds:-
Ex 'The Newcastle Weekly Courant', of Saturday, November 21, 1891, Issue 11314. In an article entitled "The Recent Gale"
The loss of the Pinnas, a vessel of about 675 tons not registered owned by H. Lorentzen and Company, Hamburg. The Pinnas left Sunderland for Hamburg on the 10th instant and should have arrived at the latter Port on the following Thursday. A telegram was received by the local agents Messrs. Napier and Render, Sunderland - stating that vessel was abandoned in the North Sea in a sinking condition on Wednesday last, and that the crew was picked up by a passing steamer and landed at Alloa, Scotland. She was commanded by Captain Eggert and had a crew of 18. The Pinnas was built in 1874 by Messrs. Short Brothers, Sunderland and originally named, The Silkesworth. She was owned by J. O. Clazey and Partners but subsequently purchased by Messrs. Lorentzen and has since carried coal from the Lambton Drops, Sunderland to Hamburg.
In the papers of Lord Londonderry, both Lorentzen and Short Brothers were involved in the construction of the ship.
So Sharon has not only provided data about J. B. Eminson, but has also provided data about another 'Short' built ship, i.e. Silkesworth, correctly (here) Silksworth, that needs to be researched to the extent possible, & listed in these pages.
I digressed! Back to J. B. Eminson. What happened in 1881? For that I am indebted to Kathleen (Katy) Gill (thanks!), director today of Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade, a limited company which replaced its predecessor entities, whose website is here. Who advises as follows:-
She was wrecked on 7th February 1881 and had been sailing from London to the Wear in ballast. She attempted to enter the river that evening at about 8 p.m. when the sea was heaving. She grounded very close to the North Pier. Both Divisions of the Volunteer Life Brigade were called out; the Roker Volunteer Life Brigade getting a line on board the vessel by means of a heaving cane. The Roker Volunteer Life Brigade rescued one crew member by breeches buoy. The rest of the crew of 16 managed to get onto the pier by using a ladder, showing how close the ship was to it. Several steam tugs tried to tow the stranded vessel off the rocks but she became a total loss.
A little more data. The vessel was under the command of Captain J. Rutherford at the time. I am advised that one of the steam tugs, the Rescue, lost its smokestack in the towing attempt.
You may be interested to know that Kathleen Gill has written a soft cover book entitled 'Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade', published in 2010 by 'The History Press Ltd.', of U.K. - ISBN 0752450913. The 'Bookfinder' listing for the volume is here & the book's cover is at left.
My understanding is that there were, in 1881 at least, 2 divisions of the 'Roker Volunteer Life Brigade', operating north of the River Wear & 3 divisions of the 'Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade', operating to the south of the river. The various sections merged in 1958, it would appear. Katy Gill advises me that the various Volunteer Life Brigades did not operate lifeboats, that being the sole province of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution ('RNLI').
The Brigades rather saved life through the use of shore-based rocket equipment, or via ladders as in J. B. Eminson's case.
If anyone has any other images of J. B. Eminson, it would be most welcomed for display on this page.
An image, ex the Apl. 6, 1878 issue of 'The Graphic', a portion of page #356, of the Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade & their shore-based rescue apparatus. Similar apparatus was surely used in the J. B. Eminson rescue. From an e-Bay image available, back in 2011, here. The item has long since expired. We sincerely thank eBay vendor 'prints-4-all', of Scotland, whose inventory of prints is astonishing.
We have limited data about this vessel which ran aground & was wrecked at Roker on Jan. 7, 1894.
The vessel, which is now listed on site, here, was built by 'Blumer & Co.', at North Dock, in 1873. A modest 636 gross ton collier, 186.4 ft. long, built for J. D. Hill & Co., of London. The ship was likely engaged, throughout its lifetime, on the shipment of coal from the north east to London & other cities in southern England & to ports on the continent. The vessel changed hands a couple of times & by 1882/83 was owned by the Earl of Durham.
In early Jan. 1894, Dora was en route, in ballast, from Portsmouth to Sunderland. I know nothing of the circumstances - who knows, maybe the vessel encountered bad weather, common in the month of January, a violent storm perhaps & high seas. Anyway, under circumstances yet to be established, on Jan. 7, 1894 the vessel ran aground at Roker & would seem to have ended up as a total loss.
We do have an image, thanks to eBay 'university'. One of two images on a stereo card offered for sale in May 2011. It sold on May 28, 2011 for GBP 19.99 or U.S. $32.76.
The wreck was probably a tourist attraction at the time, & visited by many. Can you tell us more as to the circumstances & the story?
The hull of the vessel was offered for sale at a public auction on Jan. 27, 1894, as you can read here.
Another image of the vessel is now available, included in 'Mines de Lambton' a volume of albumen photographs published in the French language in 1891. Below is the original sepia image, modified to make it into a black & white image. At the Lambton staithes in or about 1891.
Jernaes, a Norwegian barque, was wrecked on Hendon Beach on Oct. 21, 1894. It was built at Rusoer, (possibly now Risar?), Norway, in 1870, 289 tons, 108.1 ft. long, signal letters HRMQ. I have not spotted any listings for the vessel in Lloyd's Registers but the vessel is listed in the 1889 edition of 'The Record of American and Foreign Shipping' available here. Then owned by L. Alsing, of Kragerø, Norway, who also owned the vessel in 1885.
I was alerted to the wreck of Jernaes via a book entitled 'Life of Harry Watts', published in 1911 by Halls & Company at Sunderland. By author Alfred Spencer. A book commissioned to honour the life-time contribution of Harry Watts, then 85 years of age. An 'www.archive.org' book & a worthy book indeed! The book refers to the wreck of Jernaes as per the image & text as below, the text being provided so search engines can find it.
'Here is an extract from a report sent to the Parent Society by the local secretary on Oct. 24th, 1894 : — "The 'Jernaes,' barque, of Norway, from Falmouth to Shields, in ballast, wind N.E., blinding showers, very heavy sea. At twelve, midday, the 'Jernaes' stranded on Hendon beach and became a total wreck. No lives were lost, but one of the crew died after landing. The Life-boat was manned and attempted to go out between the piers, but was driven by the force of the sea against the roundhead and six oars were smashed. She returned to the boat-house, got new oars and tried again, but failed, and there was no steam tug to be got." Mr. Watts was one of the crew on this occasion.
The 'Sunderland Echo' advises us, low in the article you can read here, that the member of the Sunderland Branch of the Royal National Life-boat Institution who lost his life in that rescue was John Levis, who, it would seem was dragged into the sea but died after being landed.
As I read the available data, it would seem that it proved to be impossible to actually assist the crew of Jernaes & that they would have made it to shore themselves in some way. I presume that the wreck would have been reported in the Sunderland press at the time, but no such texts are WWW available.
A painting of the wrecked vessel, Wreck of the Norwegian Barque 'Jernaes of Risar', by an unknown artist, is in the collection of 'Sunderland Museum & Winter Garden', on Burdon Road in Sunderland. No image of the work is WWW available, however. The work is an oil on board, 30.5 x 40.4 cm. in size, painted c.1894. As you can read here.
Violante, an iron steamship, was built by Edward Finch & Co. Ltd. of Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales, for Cuthbert, Hancock & Co., of Cardiff. It was built in 1882, of 863 gross tons, 199.3 ft. long, ON 86496, signal letters HCDS. By the 1885/86 edition of Lloyd's Register, the vessel had become owned by Blindell, Dale & Co. also of Cardiff. Some available Lloyd's Register entries are here.
On the night of Nov. 20, 1895, Violante left Sunderland fully laden (with coal I presume) at a time when Merthyr, of London, was entering the harbour. The vessels collided with a sliding blow in the heavy seas. Violante, undamaged it would seem, continued her voyage whilst Merthyr was thrown against the North Pier 'and the rebound jammed it into the North-Eastern jetty, where she remained fast for about half an hour'. Tug Her Majesty (1) came to her rescue and pulled her off her dangerous position. Merthyr was taken upriver to have several damaged plates repaired.
Violante must have later been sold again for in early 1899 the vessel was owned by James & Alexander Davidson and John C. Bennett, of Aberdeen, Scotland.
At noon on May 23, 1899, Violante left Aberdeen, in ballast, for the short voyage down the east coast to Sunderland. Peter Smith was in command with a crew of 14 all told. The weather was fine and the vessel made good progress. Shortly after 2 a.m. on May 24, 1899, after passing the Coquet Light, Northumberland, a dense fog set in, so dense that only a boat's length could be seen ahead of the vessel. The captain had given instructions that he should be called to the deck 'if the weather came on thick'. So he was called on deck, at 2:20 a.m. & stayed on deck thereafter. Despite the conditions, the vessel did not lessen its speed - it continued forward at its full speed of about 9 knots. The fog signal from Souter Point was heard and just after 4 a.m. the vessel was within a few miles of the Point. A short time later breakers were seen both ahead & on the starboard bow. Evasive action was taken to no avail. The vessel struck the rocks about 1/2 mile south of the Souter Lighthouse at a location I have also seen described as Whitburn.
The opinion of the Court of Inquiry was scathing. 'It was reckless to keep the vessel at full speed for fully two hours in a densely thick fog, and especially to do so at the time of passing the entrance to the Tyne, where incoming and outgoing vessels were likely to be met on a course at about right angles to the course of the "Violante". Also 'The navigation of the vessel after 2 a.m. on May 24th was both reckless and negligent'. The captain was criticised for not using the lead. Why such behaviour? Captain Smith stated that he was racing to try to hit the tides correctly to enter the port of Sunderland. The Court held him responsible for the disaster & his master's licence was suspended for a period of nine months.
What exactly happened to the vessel? It had gone ashore when the tide was nearly at half ebb. The ship's water ballast was pumped out and an anchor and hawser was run out in an effort to extricate the vessel. Such efforts had to be abandoned as the tide continued to ebb. One of the ship's boats, manned by the Chief Officer and two crewmen, made it to Sunderland to request assistance. When next morning, two tugs arrived to pull the vessel off, the tide was in flood and the vessel was further driven onto the shore. At mid day, facing rising seas, Violante was abandoned by the captain and her remaining crew, all of whom were safely carried to shore via a rocket apparatus. The vessel was repeatedly bumped against the rocks, lying broadside on close to the edge of the cliffs. In due course the vessel became a total wreck.
So far so good - we know all of the above from the Court of Inquiry report & from newspaper articles.
Now this section was added as the result of the webmaster having seen, at the Facebook 'Sunderland Tugs and Shipbuilding' site, an image of a vessel named Violante aground at Hendon in or about 1925. Alas the image below does not do the original justice - do see the image via Photo Viewer. Geoff Bethell advises that Miramar only list one vessel of the name though I see that there was also an earlier vessel named Violante, a barquentine built in 1853 in Nova Scotia, Canada. I have to think, however, that the image below dates, in fact, from 1899 rather than 1925 & from the disaster already described. It would be good to know however, from someone familiar with the coastline south of Souter Point, that the image location jives with the actual coastline there.
Quillota, which was wrecked on Hendon Beach on Nov. 12, 1901, was not built at Sunderland. She was rather built, in 1876, by R. Steele of Greenock, Scotland, as Brahmin (image next, thanks to the good folks here).
Brahmim, later Quillota, was an iron fully rigged ship built for J. & W. Stewart of Greenock & launched on Jun. 12, 1876. Intended for use, apparently, as an opium clipper on the India - China route. 70.5 metres long between verticals, of 1325 (or 1335) gross tons, signal letters KSFH, ON number 72413.
The vessel is Miramar listed here, though you now need to register to be able to access that page.
As Brahmin, the vessel made a number of voyages, chartered to The New Zealand Shipping Co., to New Zealand carrying emigrants, as did her sister ship Padishah. On Nov. 17, 1893, the vessel was sold to 'Ant. Dom. Bordes et Fils' (A. D. Bordes & Sons) ('Bordes'), of Dunkirk, France, (have seen many references to Bordeaux, also), & was renamed Quillota. Quillota? Quillota is a city in Chile, located in the Aconcagua River valley of central Chile, 75 miles from Santiago. Bordes, I learn, was a company active in the nitrate trade - its ships traded between France & the South American nitrate ports. Hence, I presume, the choice of name.
Quillota sailed from Nantes, France, in ballast, on Oct. 29, 1901 for Shields to load a cargo of coal. She was under the command of Celestine Delapine of Saint Malo, France, with a crew all told of 22 (or maybe 21 & a pilot). She had the misfortune to be at sea when a monstrous storm was in full spate, with Force 10 or Force 11 winds, & mountainous seas. The storm lasted for 3 days & I read that 115 lives were lost in the storm up & down the coast. When off Sunderland, Quillota accepted the tow of Flying Dragon, a tug, in an attempt to take shelter in the River Wear. But the tug could not handle her in the terrible conditions & had to let her go early on Nov. 12, 1901. Quillota was forced to anchor off the mouth of the river & for many hours her two anchors held the ship. However the cables eventually gave way & the vessel was driven on shore off the end of Hendon Promenade at about 1 a.m. on the 13th (I think that is correct). Her situation was desperate. The crew tried to take refuge on the bridge, but were forced to take to the rigging. Many of the crew were swept off the ship & some jumped into the sea, in the darkness, in an attempt to save their lives. No help from shore was possible. The South Side Volunteer Life Brigade attempted to fire lines aboard by rocket, but the ship was out of rocket range. The lifeboat crew wanted to launch the lifeboat but needed a tug to tow them out. The tug skipper refused to help, however, saying it would be suicidal to go out in the prevailing conditions.
So the ship was left, in the darkness, at the mercy of the elements. Eventually all aboard were swept off the ship.
Of the 22 aboard, only six, including the Captain & the pilot, survived the experience. Seven men made it to shore alive while the rest were presumably drowned. A number of the men made it to shore & found themselves confronted by a cliff, the only way to exit the beach being to climb it. Exhausted, soaked, freezing, poorly clothed, & with cut & bleeding feet, two (or maybe four) of them made the attempt to climb the cliff - but it collapsed on top of them. They ended up trapped under a huge, 20 ton, heap of soil & rocks. They were dug out, but one of the men later died. A few others made it to shore, were found & provided with shelter, warmth & dry clothes.
An inquest was held at Hendon Grange Hotel on the afternoon of Nov. 14, 1901 into the death of Jean Bordien, who had died after being buried in the cliff fall. The Coroner commented that he had escaped the fury of the sea only to be killed by the treachery of the earth. A verdict of accidental death was recorded.
Little was left of the ship which had broken up in the raging sea. Wreckage was thickly strewn in the Ryhope area while the ship itself completely disappeared. Gone, at virtually the same spot at which Harriot had apparently been lost the day before. A couple of bodies later washed ashore. The ship's remains, such as they are, were located, in 8 metres of water, almost 100 years later, in Aug. 2001.
There are a number of fine sources for data about Quillota. 1 (ex here, wreck circumstances, about 80% down article), 2 (extensive wreck & background data, thanks to Ron Young - the same Ron Young, I presume, who is the author of this volume), & 4 (Bordes fleet data).
The following image shows Charles Sheldon's artist's impression of the wreck of Quillota. It is ex eBay, the centrefold of the Nov. 23, 1901 issue of 'The Black and White' magazine. We have not troubled 'devonian35', the eBay vendor of the item, re the use of the image here. Their eBay store is here. Do drop by! I understand that the rear of the page shows prints of three other wrecks - Hampton at Kingstown, the schooner Boxer on Scarborough Sands & of an unidentified schooner in Tynemouth Harbour.
We have a fair bit of data (derived from WWW data 'snippets') about this vessel which ran aground at Roker on or about Oct. 13, 1903. It would seem that it must have been re-floated.
Emily Smeed was built, in 1872, by a ship builder by the name of Smeed, at Murston, Sittingbourne, Kent. A 299 ton wooden schooner, 133.3 ft. long, 3 masts, initially owned by G. Smeed & registered at Rochester, Kent, with a crew of five (at the census in 1881, James Bennett was the Master). ON #67034. The vessel may have been built of recycled timber due to the difficulty of obtaining seasoned timber at the time at an economical cost. Now the webmaster has a number of editions of Lloyd's Register available to him, ex Google Books, thru 1889/90. As you can see here. During that period the vessel was always a schooner, & became, in the 1882/83 edition, owned by J. H. Bull & Company ('Bull'), of Rochester. Soon registered at Newhaven, Sussex. I read that Bull held a contract to deliver coal from NE of England to the Eastbourne Gas Company, presumably at Eastbourne, Sussex, & though they also sailed to the Baltic & to ports on the mainland of Europe, that such coal trade was their principal business.
When I commented that the vessel was, thru 1889/90 always a schooner I said that because I have seen other WWW snippet references to the vessel being of modestly different tonnages, & being i) a barquentine, ii) a sailing barge and/or c) a lighter. One 'snippet' reference seems to indicate that the vessel was initially a barquentine, 'with three square sails on the foremast, of which one was a single topsail, and the fore course was set on a bentinck boom'. Which data seems to be in conflict with the Lloyd's Registers. However, while the webmaster is not an expert on such subjects, the vessel, aground at Roker, would seem to be a barquentine in the image below, i.e. square sails on the foremast & fore-and-aft sails on the other masts.
It would seem, in fact, that in 1903, Bull sold the vessel to become a lighter at Aberdeen, Scotland.
The latest WWW reference to the vessel that I was able to find was that Emily Smeed, a lighter, was on Jan. 5, 1907, towed by Captain GN 50 from St. Abbs Head to Granton.
We do have an image, thanks to eBay 'university', an image that I have modified for inclusion here. A postcard, posted in 1903, that was sold, on Aug. 21, 2011, for GBP 28.70 or U.S. $46.51.
Another postcard image of the vessel aground at Roker is available in Feb. 2014 as this page is updated. Here.
And it is good to learn that the grounded vessel was painted, in 1904 or 1905, by Johnson Hedley (1848/1914). A tiny work, an oil on millboard, just 20.4 cm. by 30.9 cm. in size.
The work is in the collection of 'Sunderland Museum & Winter Garden', on Burdon Road in Sunderland. There the work is known as 'Emily Smead Aground at Sunderland', though we can see, from the available Lloyd's Registers, that the vessel's name was, in fact, Emily Smeed.
Unless, rather unlikely, the vessel's name was later changed from 'Emily Smeed' to 'Emily Smead'. See here.
We have a fair bit of data, (mostly from a Spanish site which references data from a volume written by Pedro Blanco Alvarez), about this vessel which ran aground at South Dock on or about Feb. 13, 1904. It was re-floated & towed to West Hartlepool where repairs were effected.
The vessel was built as Norlands, in 1889, by Wm. Gray & Company Ltd. of West Hartlepool & was launched on Apl. 3, 1889. A 1730 or 1774 ton steamship, 79.2 metres long perpendicular to perpendicular, 250 ft., speed of 8 1/2 knots, hull #353, ON #95896, signal letters LBDS. Data sources are 1 (Lloyd's Register listings, Norlands, of 1889/90 & 1890/91), 2 (Spanish page, 3 images, Peña Rocias), 3 (link 2 translated), 4, 5 & 6 (images, Peña Rocias), 7 (data), 8 (Miramar, but you need to register in order to access the site).
The vessel was built for Hardy Wilson & Co., of West Hartlepool, but in 1895 it was sold or transferred to R. Hardy & Co., also of West Hartlepool. In 1899, the vessel was sold to 'Compañia Santanderina de Navegacion S.A.' ('Navegacion'), of Santander, Spain, which company apparently named all of their fleet vessels after nearby mountains. They renamed this vessel Peña Rocias, after Peña Rocias, a 3880 ft./1183 m. mountain near Solórzano, in Cantabria, Spain. The vessel frequently carried minerals from the iron ore mines at Ria de El Astillero, Cantabria, to Rotterdam & to ports in the Bristol Channel & in Scotland. Returning with coal. In the summer months, the vessel went to the Baltic, returning with decks piled with timber. In Oct. 1903, the vessel was damaged, in the Irish Sea, in a major storm.
In Mar. 1904, but it would seem in fact to have been, in fact, on or earlier than Feb. 13, 1904, Captain D. Joaquin Díaz Gomez in command, the vessel was at Sunderland. It had been to Stockton & was at Sunderland to take on board a cargo of coal. 2 indicates that the vessel, with a pilot aboard, ran aground in the river & ended up high & dry. It would seem, however, that the vessel may rather have run aground S. of the south pier, on the North Sea coast. The vessel was initially thought to be a total loss but it was re-floated. No word as to how it was re-floated, but it was towed to West Hartlepool & must have required extensive repairs since it returned to Santander only in Aug. 1904 with a cargo of coal from Newcastle. Can anybody advise the exact date that she ran aground?
We do have an image, thanks to eBay, a postcard that was sold on Aug. 21, 2011, or GBP 33.60 or US $54.45.
The webmaster continues to be amazed to see how long such 19th century steamers as this one lasted in service. This vessel lasted for over 75 years, thru a momentous period in world history.
A pair of images. Both clickable. At left aground at Sunderland in 1904.
The vessel ran aground, in 1912 at Rotterdam, but it was re-floated after two days with zero damage. On Dec. 14, 1918 the vessel ran aground yet again, carrying coal, on the bar of San Esteban de Pravia (Asturias). It was able to free itself after 3 days. There was a voyage, in 1918, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, returning with grain. After WW1, Navegacion had to sell all of their fleet but they chose to retain Peña Rocias. Which would seem to have provided infrequent service, however, & spent much time laid up at Pedrosa. It was aground again at La Laja on Nov. 26, 1926 & a part of its cargo of pyrites was jettisoned to help re-float the vessel - which was then towed to Ayamonte (Huelva) for temporary repairs. Times were difficult in the 1930s, indeed from Aug. 29, 1929 the vessel, or its owners, had financial problems. On Aug. 30, 1933, the vessel was sold at auction to satisfy a debt to the 'Cork Santander S.A.' shipyard. The vessel was purchased by Antonio Menchaca Bodega, of Bilbao, Spain, & he renamed it Briquetas Zorroza. Miramar indicate that the vessel was recorded as Briquetas Zorroza only in 1935. The vessel was requisitioned by the Spanish Government in 1936, but remained moored in the estuary at Bilbao. A little before Jun. 19, 1937, the vessel fled to Bordeaux, France, & was perhaps interned there. The vessel later returned to Bilbao & was engaged in the coastal trade carrying coal. I presume that the vessel continued to provided economical service for many more years, because only 30 years later, was the vessel sold for scrap. It was sold on Oct. 5, 1964 to 'Naviera Letasa SL' of Bilbao, & on Dec. 31, 1964, it arrived at Santander ship breakers to be broken up.
The above is largely derived from translations of Spanish texts into English. With the webmaster's inability in Spanish, it may well need correction. Which would be welcomed.
We have limited data about this vessel but what we do have is thanks to the combined efforts of Harold Appleyard & Clive Ketley. And now Katy Gill, also! Harold advises that the ship was built in 1855 at Arendal, Norway, & was owned by 'Acties. Brig Arendal' with B. Jacobsen the manager. The vessel went ashore north of the mouth of the River Wear on Mar. 26, 1906, in a north-east gale, having arrived from Tønsberg, Norway, with a cargo of pitprops. The vessel was re-floated, but being badly damaged, was broken up by local ship breakers.
We thank Harold for the data & Clive for the image. Miramar seem not to list this vessel.
Kathleen Gill (e-mail), of the Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade, provides (thanks!) additional data. That the Brigade attempted a rescue with rocket apparatus, but she was too far out for the attempt to be successful, just inside the harbour. Six of her crew were taken off by the Sunderland lifeboat, while the other two crew members - the Captain & the First Mate - decided to stay on board. Tugs Stag & Devonia succeeded in getting lines on board & towed Arendal into the port.
The following image, of Arendal under tow in Mar. 1906, originates with 'Sunderland Tugs and Shipbuilding in pictures' on 'Facebook', specifically from here. Click the image below to see the image in a larger size.
Many of the ships listed in this total site, ships built by Sunderland shipbuilders, ended their lives on distant coasts & reefs of the world, driven ashore by gales or hurricanes or sometimes wrecked due to human error in the form of poor navigation. The ship that follows is the reverse of that situation, a ship built in Germany that ended its life on Sunderland's very doorstep, at Roker Pier on Jan. 21, 1913. At 54.55.28N/01.21.41W.
The vessel is Orion, a merchant ship built in 1901 at the 'Koch' shipyards at Lubeck, Germany, for Schmidt & Hansen, of Flensburg. 1623 gross tons, 79.4 metres long, perpendicular to perpendicular, speed of 8 1/2 knots. The Miramar link to the vessel is here. The ship ran aground in a gale. The crew was rescued by the lifeboat of the Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade ('Brigade'), under the command of William Oliver (1859/1926), who earned his livelihood, I read, as a Borough Road grocer. A famous man indeed in the history of the Brigade. He was at the forefront of setting it up back in 1877 & helped save over 300 people in his lifesaving career that spanned almost 50 years. As you can read here, in a fine Sarah Stoner article, published in the 'Sunderland Echo' on Apl. 4, 2007.
In Jan. 2010, a message has been received from Kathleen (Katy) Gill, a director of Brigade & its Head of Museum and Learning. Katy advises that the text above is incorrect since the Brigade did not use lifeboats, that being the sole province of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution ('RNLI'). Katy advises that the Brigade was set up to assist H. M. Coastguard in saving life through the use of shore based rocket equipment. The rocket was used to fire a line to a ship & a breeches buoy was used to remove the crew. In the case of the Orion, the Brigade were called because the RNLI lifeboat could not initially reach the ship, however eventually the RNLI lifeboat was used in the rescue with the Brigade standing by in case assistance was needed. The crew were taken by the Brigadesmen to their Watch House where they were given dry clothing & hot food.
The Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade's website can be seen here.
The ship was driven aground in a gale. She was carrying coal from Sunderland to Libau, which is, by the way, the English name for Liepaja, an ice-free Latvian port on the Baltic Sea. She had a crew of 18. Katy Gill advises me that the names of the crew were published in the local press at the time & that the captain's name was 'A. Dickensen'. I wonder why Orion headed out with a major storm approaching? If you can add any more detail, do please be in touch.
Clive Ketley has advised me, however, that Orion was wrecked on Jan. 21, 1913 inside the old north pier at the entrance to the River Wear (the pincer type piers are later piers), & she stood in shallow water there before she broke into two pieces. On the sand on the inside of the old pier. Salvage work was done in situ. Remains of the wreck, intermingled with remains from the 1881 wreck of J. B. Eminson, 'halfway along the inside of the north pier'. Clive remembers the spot as the home of 'scurrying green-shore crabs' & other marine life. The remains were visible at low tide until about 1988 when they were finally removed. Thank you Clive!
A little map at left which shows where the wreck was.
It may not be the whole story to state that the vessel just broke into two pieces. An article in 'The Boy's Own Annual' of 1936-37, states 'A German tramp steamer, Orion, was driven hard ashore off the coast of Sunderland. When the next high tides came round tugs made several unsuccessful attempts to get her off. Determined not to be beaten, they gathered their strength for one last effort. " Ah! She moves." Slowly the tugs forge ahead, but instead of pulling the Orion off, they pulled her in two ! As you can read here.
Nick Thompson adds that the wreck 'was completely removed as a cosmetic operation to clean up the area when up-market housing took over from the obsolete dock operations.' Nick says that he played in the remains of the hull as a child & 'enjoyed poking around the nooks and crannies as did his own children when we visited Roker beach'.
'The Comprehensive Guide to the Shipwrecks of the North East Coast to 1917: Volume One', a softcover book written by Ron Young, & published by 4 different publishers in 2000 (ISBN 0752417495) refers extensively to the wreck.
Images? Yes indeed! The 2nd & 4th images that follow come from Clive Ketley's collection. The 3rd & 6th images are thanks to Tony Frost. And the 5th from the Ron Young book just referred to. The first is from a rather different source.
The first dramatic image is a 1913 press photograph from the archives of the San Francisco Examiner - slightly sharpened & cleaned for better presentation on this page. It probably was published around the world in 1913. The print was captioned as being:- 'The ship that broke itself. Never, perhaps, has the camera illustrated the force of wind, and waves on a vessel of iron and steel as strikingly as in this picture. This shows the German frieghter [sic] Orion, which was blown on the Riker [sic] Sands, Sunderland, England, during a terrific gale. All efforts to float the vessel failed, and it was abandoned. within a short time after it split literally in two, as the picture shows.'
This image was offered for sale on eBay in Feb. 2009, amongst a great many other images from that newspaper's archives, but did not sell. The vendor was 'alleycatv'. The original eBay listing is now long gone.
Let me introduce Efos, which ran aground at Roker Pier on Nov. 22, 1927 & lived to tell the tale.
Efos was a coaster/collier, built as Forestroy for 'Forest Shipping Company', of Newcastle, with 'Mann Macneal & Co.', of Glasgow, the manager. Built at the 'Ardrossan Dockyard & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.' shipyards at Ardrossan, Scotland. Hull #334. ON # 147735. Launched on Aug. 16, 1924. 1245 gross tons, 70.1 metres long, perpendicular to perpendicular, speed likely quite modest. In 1927, the vessel was sold to 'Tyne & Wear Shipping Co. Ltd.', of Newcastle, William France, Fenwick & Co. Ltd., of London, the manager, & renamed Efos.
In Nov. 1927, the vessel left London presumably bound for Sunderland. In ballast most likely. A strong easterly gale was in effect as she approached the mouth of the River Wear. She 'had just got round Roker Pier when a huge sea struck her'. Efos did not answer to her helm. The seas drove her stern around & in high seas she was driven ashore south of the old pier. On Nov. 22, 1927. A number of attempts were made by the Roker Volunteer Life Brigade to get a line aboard, all without success. However when it became apparent that no lifeboat could get near to the ship, those efforts were intensified. Another line was fired, & this time it was successful. All 17 of the crew were successfully brought to shore, one by one by breeches buoy, Captain Charles W. Forsyth, being the last to leave. I have not read at what time of day Efos went ashore, but the rescue was effected with the greater difficulties of working in darkness.
The image which follows, provided by Clive Ketley, shows Efos upright & looking intact at Roker in 1927 - but most firmly aground. The image was taken, I understand, from the old north pier, looking north.
Now it could have been that Efos was pounded to pieces over the ensuing days. But that did not happen. The vessel was successfully re-floated with the help of tugs. Indeed, a silent movie of the re-floating is available from British Pathé & is visible at their site here. I have not read the date on which she was re-floated. The movie was released on Nov. 28, 1927 so it must have been rather earlier than that date. Nor have I read if repairs were necessary to get the ship seaworthy again. I presume that the 'Sunderland Echo' at the time would have reported that & other detail.
Efos clearly continued to serve in the following years. There are just 3 WW2 convoy references, in Jan. & Feb. 1940, all U.K. coastal. On Feb. 19, 1940, the last of such references, the vessel left the Tyne for Southend in convoy FS.100, presumably with a cargo of coal. She arrived safely at Southend & about a week later, was south bound again, out of the Humber for London, en route to Devenport , i.e. Plymouth, with another cargo of coal. Nick Thompson advises that the Captain that day was 'T. Harland'. Nick knows that because his father, Alan Thompson, told him so - Alan was a seaman aboard the vessel that day in 1940 & was on watch at the time of the collision. At 10 p.m. on Feb. 26, 1940, at the mouth of The Wash, proceeding at about 7 knots, an object was spotted in the water ahead, 'a long black shape just under the surface', spotted alas too late for evasive action to be taken. The collision ripped a hole in the ship's bottom, & the ship soon turned turtle & within 4 minutes of the impact she sank. 4 miles NNW of the Haisborough Light Vessel. All 19 crew took to lifeboats, soon to be rescued by a small Dutch cargo boat, transferred to a minesweeper & landed at Great Yarmouth.
What had Efos hit? It sounds as though it was a submarine. But nobody knows for sure what it was that they hit that day. An 'unknown submerged object'. Alan Thompson was always convinced that what the ship struck that day was, indeed, a submarine.
According to Alan Thompson, there were 17 only aboard Efos that day. You can read Alan's account of the event, as he related it to his son Nick, who wrote it all down before his father passed away in 2002.
In the image which follows, taken at 'The Home for Shipwrecked Sailors' at Great Yarmouth, kindly provided also by Nick Thompson, Alan Thompson is at extreme left in the back row. Many of the crew can be identified but not all.
Data sources: 1 (Miramar, you now must be registered to access), 2 (1927 grounding, 22 November 1927), 3 (British Pathé, 1 min 14 sec. silent movie available of Efos being re-floated), 4 (1940 wreck - a 1940 newspaper cutting is available also via that link, see page bottom), 5 (BBC, account of 1940 sinking), 6 ('convoyweb.org', WW2 convoy duty, Efos, but I am unable to check the link).
Ian Robertson has kindly provided the above two images - images of the trawler Marjory Hastie - stranded at Marsden Bay on Feb. 28, 1941. Larger images are available by clicking the above image.
Marjory Hastie was a trawler launched on Jun. 27, 1930 at the Aberdeen, Scotland, yard of Alexander Hall. 244 tons displacement, 123.4 ft. long. Owned by the 'Hasties', a well known trawler family - Alex Hastie is a long term captain of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade. In Jun. 1940, the vessel was requisitioned by the Navy & commissioned as HMS Marjory Hastie, under the command of T/Lt. Richard Thomas Gilling. Pennant #FY1777. Assigned to mine-sweeping duties. On Feb. 28, 1941, the vessel struck a mine while performing such duties & was driven ashore in a force 7 NNE gale. At Marsden Bay. As depicted above. The crew were rescued by the Marsden Life Saving Association, which was based at Souter. The vessel was re-floated on Mar. 14, 1941 & was returned to its owners in 1945.
Ian Robertson is, I learn, a past Captain of South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade. And the images are ex the files of that fine organisation.
Sentinel was a 2900 ton cruiser, built for the Royal Navy by Vickers, Sons & Maxim, of Barrow-in-Furness, at a cost of about £282,000. It was launched as Inchkeith on Apl. 19, 1904 but delivered as Sentinel to the Royal Navy in Apl. 1905. Her career over, the vessel was sold to Thomas Young & Sons (Shipbreakers) Ltd., Sunderland shipbreakers, on Jan. 18, 1923 & later that year was taken, under tow, to her appointment at the breakers. It would seem that she somehow was permitted to run aground, on Seaburn Beach near Sunderland. Did she break free of her tow? Was the weather bad? Does anybody know? I cannot tell you the exact date that she grounded but she did eventually arrive at 'Thomas Young' on Jun. 20, 1923. It may have taken a while to get her off the beach.
You can read a little of her service both prior to and during WW1 at Wikipedia, here.
A postcard of the vessel on the beach at Seaburn was sold via eBay in late Sep. 2013, the postcard being by Eric Robinson, Photographer, of Sunderland. That image can be seen below, the second of the two images. What I show you is not, however, the eBay listing image with its, to me at least, most intrusive logo, but rather a webmaster modified version of an image of the card which was posted in Jun. 2013 to the 'Sunderland Tugs and Shipbuilding in Pictures' site at 'Facebook'. The first image below (similarly modified) is also from that Facebook source. I thank whoever posted those two images but do not know whom specifically to thank.
You can click each image below to see it in a larger size.
REGFOS, AGROUND AT WHITE STEEL ROCKS, WHITBURN, IN 1947
Facebook's 'Sunderland Tugs and Shipbuilding in pictures' has in its collection a large and very fine photograph of a vessel aground, possibly at Sunderland. Here. The image was posted to Facebook, I read, by Linda Roy.
The grounding was not at Sunderland but rather at nearby White Steel Rocks, Whitburn. The vessel was Regfos, built by Pickersgill in 1910 as West Quarter & sold and renamed Regfos in 1929. The vessel is covered in detail on site. Here is a part of the text I earlier wrote about the vessel & its 1947 grounding.
The winter of 1947/48 was a ferocious winter in the U.K., I read, with abnormal cold, snow storms etc. Early on Mar. 8, 1947, Regfos was approaching Sunderland from London, in ballast, with John S. Gardner (awarded the OBE - when I wonder, not for this matter!) in command, & a crew of 18. Visibility was poor due to both fog & a blinding snowstorm. The ship missed the entrance to the Wear, & soon after 8:00 a.m., drove ashore on the rocks at White Steel Rocks, Whitburn, 2 miles to the north. Thanks to Harold Appleyard, we have a dramatic image of her on the rocks. The ship stayed upright, did not take on water, & while the Sunderland lifeboat stood by, Regfos awaited the assistance of tugs despatched from Sunderland. By noon that day she was re-floated, & made it safely into Sunderland to have her hull inspected. And there, I presume, to load her cargo of coal for London.
You are invited to read a 'Sunderland Echo article about the grounding.
I offer next Linda Roy's fine image of Regfos aground in 1947. Click on the image to see it in a larger size.
As for Regfos covered immediately above, this image of the grounding of Afon Towy comes to us via Facebook's 'Sunderland Tugs and Shipbuilding in pictures', in an image posted by Catherine Anne Harrison. As you can see here. Catherine advises us that it is of the vessel aground in the Wear - ex 'Echo booklet'.
It would seem that the Echo booklet in question was 'Canny Aad Sunlun ...', a collection of Sunderland Echo images. The booklet page does not date the grounding but does state that the vessel went aground in the River Wear. I presume that details of the grounding would have been included when the image was originally published - whenever that was.
Afon Towy was a 684 ton vessel, O.N. 130058, built in 1919 by Dibles (1918) Limited of Southampton. It was initially owned by Afon Steamship Co. Ltd. of Llanelly, Wales, however in 1928 it was sold to Afon Lleidi Steamship Co. Ltd., also of Llanelly. Signal letters CFBQ later MJXC, 178.0 ft. long perpendicular to perpendicular, 183.4 ft. long overall. You can view Lloyd's Register entries for the vessel from 1930/31 thru 1944/45 at 'plimsollshipdata.org', here. While the vessel is Lloyd's listed thru 1944/45, the vessel was in fact wrecked on Aug. 6, 1941 under some unusual circumstances. The vessel was in convoy FS 559 proceeding from Blyth to Queenborough, Kent, with a cargo of coal. The convoy was being escorted by two Royal Navy destroyers, HMS Vimiera & HMS Wolsey, with two trawlers providing additional escort services. One of those two trawlers was HM Trawler Agate. The convoy was, I read, being attacked by German E-boats & the convoy's course was accordingly changed. A gale was blowing, visibility was poor & it was night time. Anyway for whatever reason - navigation error, buoys having been swept away, or the Haisborough light vessel being invisible, Agate and the seven vessels that she was leading ran straight onto Haisborough Sands. At 52.54.30N/1.43.30E, off the coast of Norfolk at Happisburgh. The seven vessels lost were Aberhill, Betty Hindley, Deerwood, Gallois, Oxshott, Taara & of course Afon Towy which ended up breaking her back. Lifeboats came from both Cromer and Great Yarmouth & Gorleston & did what they could. They rescued a total of 137 men from the many wrecked ships, but 37 men perished including 9 from Afon Towy including William F. (Francis) Strunks, her master, & all 16 aboard Agate. There was, I read, an Admiralty Court of Inquiry into the whole matter.
Three of the seven merchant ships lost that day were built in Sunderland - Deerwood was built by J. Crown in 1919, Taara was built as Fleetwing by S. P. Austin in 1907, while Betty Hindley was built by S. P. Austin in 1941. Betty Hindley had a very short life! She was brand new having been delivered only in Jul. 1941!
I have spotted a 'pdf' reference (1 ex 2 at page 3 of 4) to Afon Towy having earlier run aground, in fog, 1/2 mile S. of the point at Flamborough Head, Yorkshire. On or about Nov. 7, 1935. I presume, however, that such grounding would not be related to the grounding reported as being in the River Wear.
I cannot tell you the name of the vessel at left. Which would seem, however, to be of a wreck aground at Whitburn, in 1919 or maybe a little earlier.
The card was an eBay item which sold on Jun. 1, 2011 for GBP 12.00. It bore a postmark, at Whitburn, of Jan. 30, 1919.
Is it possible that anyone can identify the vessel, so that we might try to establish the circumstances?
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