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El  "Archivo Gibson" en el Royal Museums Greenwich 

 

Otros hombres han tomado buenas fotografias de naufragios, pero en ninguna otra parte del mundo una familia ha producido un standard de trabajo de tan alta consistencia y poesía.John Fowles

Fuentes: Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog- Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG)-Sotheby´s

Pido disculpas por no haber traducido la mayor parte, por falta de tiempo.Carlos Mey

“Este es el mayor archivo de drama y mecánicas de naufragios que veremos jamás- mil imagenes durante unos 130 años, con tal poder y nostalgia que aun el observador mas pasivo no puede dejar de sentir la excitación de los eventos que se describen." Rex Cowan

.La Royal Museums Greenwich adquirió en Sotheby´s por la suma de £122.500 (unos 200.000 dólares) las fotos de las cuatro generaciones de la familia Gibson, incluyendo mas de 1.100 placas de vidrio, mas de 500 negativos en film y 97 fotos originales impresas, de las costas de Cornwall y de la islas Scillyes.

Durante 125 años, comenzando con el patriarca John Gibson, que se convirtió en un fotógrafo profesional en 18690, la familia Gibson soportó tormentas, olas y arenas para capturar escenas de buques destrozados y rescates dramáticos; salvatage de la carga y entierros de victimas de las traicioneras aguas del sudoeste de Inglaterra. Los hijos de John; Herbert y Alexander, se unieron al negocio en 1865 y sus talentos definirían el archivo Gibson y su excepcional alta calidad. El primer naufragio fué fotografiado en 1869, cuando el telégrafo recien arribaba a las islas.

Estos no eran trabajos de simplemente apuntar y disparar, eran peligrosos y de gran labor físico. Cuando el naufragio del vapor de 3.5000 toms Schiler en 1876, mas de 300 personas fallecieron, los dos hermanos trabajaron por días, Herbert preparando informes a los periódicos y Alexander trasmitiéndolos al mundo, hasta que colapsaron de fatiga. Aunque trabajaban en dificiles condiciones- viajando en un carro o bote para llegar a los naufragios, subiendo por rocas y dunas con una caja oscura, llevando frágiles cajas de placas de vidrio y equipos pesados produjeron algunas de las escenas mas emotivas de naufragios de los siglos IXI y XX.

.Estos eran pioneros, este era el tiempo cuando la fotografía estaba firmemente enraizada en el estudio fotográfico. El equipo era tan voluminoso y frágil que el subir sobre rocas hizando no sólo la cámara sino tambien las placas de vidrio y encima una camara oscura para revelarlas, es poco menos que milagroso.

El negocio de la familia Gibson aun florece en la islas de Scilly, aunque han añadido souvenirs y postales. Sandra Gibson, la tataranieta de John Gibson, lleva el negiocio familiar junt co su esposo Pete. La familia decidió que era tiempo de vender el archivo antes de dejarlo languidecer en sus cajas.

El autor John Le Carré (James Bond 007), que usó algunas de las fotos de los Gibson en sus libros, visitó el local, entonces llevado por Frank, el padre de Sandra en 1997. Esta es su descripción del archivo

"Estamos parados en la cueva de Aladino, donde esta guardado el tesoro de los Gibson y Frank es su cuidador. Es mitad galón y mitad laboratorio, una cantidad de estantes llenos de cosas, antiguos equipos, cajas, blocks de impresión y libros. Muchos cientos de placas y miles de fotografías están aún esperando su inventario. La mayoría no ha visto la luz del día. Cualquier agente, publicista o contador se caería pasmado a su sola vista."

Entre los objetos encluídos en la colección es el libro donde los hermanso Gibson escribian y copiaban los telegramas enviados desde Scilly, están llenos de historias de desastres, coraje y supervivencia. La RMG conservará, investigará y digitalizará la colección, para realizar una serie de exhibiciones en galerias y museos regionales.

Los items comprados en el remate son:

  • 585 Glass plate negatives (214: 12 x 10in: 8 x 6in) housed in 16 original wooden boxes and one cardboard box
  • 407 Glass plate copy negatives (6½ x 4¾ in) in 4 cardboard boxes
  • 179 Glass plate negatives (4¼ x 3¼in)
  • 198 film negatives (5 x 4in) in three boxes
  • 335 cut film negatives (various sizes) and 39 (35mm) film negatives
  • 97 original photographs of shipwrecks (silver prints, 12 x 10in)
  • Manuscript ledger by Alexander and Herbert Gibson on the shipwrecks of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
  • A collection of books by John Fowles, John Arlott, John Le Carré, and Rex Cowan on the Gibsons of Scilly, together with newspaper and magazine articles

.En general solo se tenia el nombre del buque, pero Marcos Bunyan se tomo el trabajo de investigar cada buque y limpiar algunas fotos de imperfecciones.

he Gibson family originated from the Isle of Scilly and have 300 years of family history. John Gibson acquired his first camera whilst abroad around 150 years ago when photography was still mainly reserved for the wealthiest members of society. He had to go to sea from a young age to supplement the income from a small shop on St Mary’s run by his widowed mother. Making ends meet on St Mary’s was a constant struggle and he learned to use the camera and set up a photography studio in Penzance.

Around 1866 he returned to St Mary’s with his family and he was assisted in his photography by his sons Alexander and Herbert in the studio shed in the back garden of their home. Both Herbert and Alexander learned the art of photography at their father’s knee and Alexander was to become one of the most remarkable characters in Scilly. He had a passion for archaeology, architecture and folk history. He took endless pictures of ruins, prehistoric remains, and artifacts not just in Scilly but all over Cornwall.

Herbert by contrast was a quiet man, a competent photographer and a sound businessman. There can be no doubt that without his steadying influence, the business aspect of their photography might not have survived Alexander’s more flamboyant approach. Frank spent some time working for photographers in Cornwall learning about new technology. But Frank returned to Scilly in 1957 and worked in partnership with his father for two years.

After this time it was apparent that they could not work together and James retired to Cornwall and sold the business to Frank. Under Frank’s stewardship the business expanded. He produced postcards and sold souvenirs to supplement the photography, and opened another shop. Scilly is always in the news and there is always demand for pictures by the press.

James Gibson was, in fact, the most qualified of all the photographers. He was an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and won various medals and awards through his lifetime. He was an adventurous photojournalist as well as a jobbing photographer. Today, the family runs a souvenir shop which sells books and postcards and they are currently digitising 150 years of photographs.”

.Frank Gibson spent time learning about new technology and techniques to help advance the family business

“The family’s famous shipwreck photography began in 1869, on the historic occasion of the arrival of the first Telegraph on the Isles of Scilly. At a time when it could take a week for word to reach the mainland from the islands, the Telegraph transformed the pace at which news could travel. At the forefront of early photojournalism, John became the islands’ local news correspondent, and Alexander the telegraphist – and it is little surprise that the shipwrecks were often major news.

On the occasion of the wreck of the 3500-ton German steamer, Schiller in 1876 when over 300 people died, the two worked together for days – John preparing newspaper reports, and Alexander transmitting them across the world, until he collapsed with exhaustion. Although they often worked in the harshest conditions, travelling with hand carts to reach the shipwrecks – scrambling over treacherous coastline with a portable dark room, carrying glass plates and heavy equipment – they produced some of the most arresting and emotive photographic works of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”

Text from Wills Robinson. “Gibson family’s photos chart a century of Cornish shipwrecks,” on the Mail Online website 21/10/2013

Prefería sólo colocar una pequeña imagen de cada foto, que al clikearla se agranda al tamaño natural de la web. (C.Mey). Se muestran sólo algunas imágenes que he conseguido a través de internet.

The Glenbervie 1902

El Glenbervie, estaba llevando una carga de pianos y licores de alta calidad cuando naufragó en las rocas de Lowland point cerca de Coverack, Cornwall en Enero de 1902, luego de perderse en mal tiempo. La barca de bandera británica estaba cargada con 600 barriles de whisky, 400 barriles de brandy y barriles de rum. Todos los 16 tripulantes fueron salvados por botes salvavidas.

Estaba yendo desde el Támesis hacia Africa Oriental. La carga fué salvada. El Glenbervie fue botado en 1866, primero como clipper del té, luego muchos años en la ruta a Canadá. Normalmente hacia tres viajes redondos por año, entre el deshielo y el nuego congelamiento del río St, Lawrence.

sin datos
El ERIK RICKMERS, en las Scilly Rocks, Bryher, 1899, navegando desde Bangkok a Bremen llevando arroz.

SV Bay of Panama 1891 (British): Este velero naufragó bajo Nare Head, cerca de St. Keveme,Cornwall durante una gran tormenta, rrayendo yute de Calcuta. Murieron 18 de a bordo, pero se salvaron otros 19.

Esta barca fue construída en 1883, con tres palos, equipada con cubiertas y beams de las bodegas bajas de hierro. The forecastle was 37 ft long and the poop 54 ft. Rigged with double top- and top gallant sails and royal sails)

Built by the Belfast shipping firm of Hartland and Wolff in 1883, the Bay of Panama was described by everyone who saw her as probably the finest sailing ship afloat. With her steel hull, and four square-rigged masts, she was a very fast and beautiful ship of 2282 tons. But strength and good looks are no guarantee, and during March 1891 the Bay of Panama met up with the worst blizzard Cornwall had suffered for over two hundred years. It was to prove no contest. Because of her speed, the Bay of Panama was used on the Calcutta run, and on November 18th 1890 she left that port bound for Dundee loaded with a cargo of 13000 bales of jute.

For four months she sailed swiftly towards England until one morning during the early part of March 1891, she approached the Cornish coast in rapidly deteriorating weather. The Captain knew all about the dangers of a lee shore, but because of the bad visibility he was uncertain as to his exact position. He could see that the weather was unlikely to get any better, and he even thought that there might be some snow. After weighing up all the risks he decided to heave to, take some depth soundings, and generally take stock of his position. It was a decision that was to cost him his ship, and his life. Only a few hours later, in the early afternoon, a blizzard, the worst for over two centuries, swept into the West Country and engulfed the Bay of Panama.

CROMDALE - The Cromdale, ran into Lizard Point, the most southerly point of British mainland, in thick fog. The three-masted ship was on a voyage from Taltal, Chile to Fowey, Cornwall with a cargo of nitrates. There were no casualties but within a week the ship had been broken up completely by the sea.
El St Anne, cerca de Porthleven, 1931. Una goleta francesa navegando desde Cardiff a Vannes.

 

The Hansy  1911.

Wreck of the Norwegian full-rigger Hansy, Housel Bay, The Lizard, Cornwall, November 1911.

3 November – 1497 ton sailing ship Hansy (Norway) of Fredrikstad was wrecked at Housel Bay on the eastern side of the Lizard. Three men were saved by the Lizard lifeboat (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and the rest along with the Captain’s family were taken off by rocket apparatus. She was bound for Sydney with building material and her cargo of steel and timber was washed up for weeks afterwards and used in many of the local cottages. One in Church Cove now bears her name. (Wikipedia)

“Wrecked in Housel Bay near the Lizard Point, November 13th, 1911. 
Sailing from Sweden to Melbourne with timber and pig-iron, she missed stays 
while trying to come about in a gale. The crew were brought ashore by 
breeches-buoy. Two days later a salvage party boarded – to find a pair of
goats lying happily in a seaman’s bunk. Local fishermen did a thriving trade 
in timber for weeks afterwards; and the iron pigs are fished up for ballast 
to this day. The Scottish-built Hansy (formerly Aberfoyle) had had an 
unhappy history. In 1890 the bulk of the crew jumped ship in Australia,
 after a bad voyage out – only to be returned on board following a fortnight 
in jail. Jail must have been more agreeable, for eight men jumped ship again 
at the next port of call. In 1896 a steamer found the Aberfoyle drifting helplessly
 off Tasmania. The captain had been swept overboard, the first mate had
 committed suicide by leaping into the sea and the rest had given up hope.
 Similar stories of low morale – and often of insane bitterness between
 officers and crew – are manifold.”

John Fowles. Shipwreck. 1975

Horsa, St. Martin´s, islas de Scilly, 1893, venia de Nueva Zelandia con carga mixta. Encalló en una caleta en 14 de Abril de 1893, volviendo de N. Zelandia, al quedar demasiado cerca de la costa. Esa misma tarde fue retirada de las rocas  por el paquete Lyonesse, la idea era remolcarla hasta St. Mary´s, pero el remolque se se cortaba y eventualmente el capitan trato de hacerse camino solo., por suerte le pidió al packet que se quedara, ya qye a la 1.30am el Horsa dio una vuekta de campana y s ehundio en aguas profundas. Ell Lyonesse logro salvar a todos. Esta foto del buque por lo tanto es engañosa, ya que esta en las ultimas horas de su vida.
Barca Khyber, 1905

This is the story of the shipwreck of the barque Khyber sail ship off the coast of Cornwall on March 15th 1905. I am particularly interested in this as my great grandfather, John Willis, was one of only three of the twenty six crew who survived this terrible tragedy. I started my research with a 1985 copy of the magazine 'This England' in which there was an article outlining the events which made me want to investigate further. I then turned to the internet which was not a lot of help at first, however, after some persistence a few facts started to emerge. Once armed with enough information I visited Cornwall to see for myself where all this happened which was a fantastic and sometimes emotional experience. Standing overlooking Porthloe cove thinking 'if John Willis had not jumped overboard at exactly the right moment I would not be alive today' was quite moving.

The following pages are my endeavour to tell this story with all information and photographs I have managed to collect along the way. My thanks go to Sandra Gibson of Gibsons of Scilly for giving me permission to use the archive photos taken at the time. Roger Hull from the Liverpool Record Office for searching through microfilms to find me a copy of the Liverpool Courier, and finally my beautiful, patient fiancé Hayley for not complaining once whilst I dragged her around the Cornwall coast on my quest.

Jonathan Edgar   http://www.jonedgar.net/The%20Story.htm    http://www.jonedgar.net/Survivors.htm   http://www.jonedgar.net/Letters.htm    http://www.jonedgar.net/St%20Leven%20church.htm   http://www.jonedgar.net/St%20Sennen%20church.htm

James Armstrong 1874

The Mildred, 1912, was traveling from Newport to London when it got stuck in dense fog and hit rocks at Gurnards Head at midnight on the 6th April 1912. Captain Larcombe and his crew of two Irishmen, one Welshman and a Mexican rowed into St. Ives as their ship was destroyed by the waves.

“The British barquentine Mildred, Newport for London with basic slag, struck under Gurnards Head at midnight on the 6th April 1912, whilst in dense fog. She swung broadside and was pounding heavily when Captain Larcombe, the mate, two Irishmen, one Welshman and a Mexican from Vera Cruz rowed into St. Ives at 6am. They later returned in a pilot gig but the Mildred was already going to pieces. The Mildred, Cornish built and owned, was launched in 1889.”

SV Granite State / Slate1895.

American three-masted sailing ship built in 1877 ran aground near Porthcurno 4th November 1895

On 3rd November 1895 this American sailing ship arrived in Falmouth with a cargo of wheat from the River Plate. Given orders to discharge in Swansea she sailed on the 4th November and whilst attempting to round Lands End, struck the Lee Ore rock of the Runnel Stone. Taken in tow by the Cardiff tug Elliot and Jeffrey she was beached in the shallows of Porthcurno. She rapidly settled, and when the wheat began to swell and the hatches burst under the pressure, she was abandoned. She broke up soon afterwards in a winter gale.

Struck on the Runnel Stone, three miles south-east of Land’s End, November 4, 1895. This fine Yankee windjammer was making for Swansea from Falmouth. A navigation error by the mate seems to have been the cause of disaster. She was hauled off by a tug, but had to be towed to the nearest sandy bay, Porthcurno. She settled rapidly, and when the cargo of wheat began to swell the crew took to boats. The Granite Slate was soon afterwards destroyed completely by a gale.

The Granite Slate, Porthcurno, 1895, a Yankee windjammer making for Swansea. Courtesy of Sotheby's

Jeune Hortense 1888  .

The French brigantine Jeune Hortense was swept on to the beach when she came into Mount’s Bay to land the body of a Fowey man who had died in France.
The schooner wrecked at Long Rock, Cornwall. The Penzance lifeboat, having been brought by carriage to the beach near Marazion, rescued four crew.

Stranded near St Michael’s Mount, May lyth, 1888. The foreground carriage is for the Penzance lifeboat

The Minnehaha was shipwrecked in 1874 On 18 January 1874, while travelling from Callao, Peru to Dublin, the 845-ton four-masted barque Minnehaha carrying guano was wrecked off Peninnis Head, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly. Her pilot mistook the St Agnes light for the Wolf Rock and thought they were passing between the Isles of Scilly and the Wolf. Shortly after she struck a rock off Peninnis Head  and the vessel sunk at once with some of the crew being drowned in their berths. Those on deck climbed into the rigging, and as the tide rose the ship was driven closer to land, and some managed to climb onto the shore over the jib boom. The master, pilot and eight crew drowned.

sin datos
The Socoa, Cagwith, Lizard, travelling from Stettin-San Francisco carrying cement. Courtesy Sotheby'
The T W Lawson, Annet, 1907, a seven masted Schooner from Philladelphia carrying barrels of oil. Courtesy of Sotheby's. The schooner Thomas W. Lawson, world's only seven-masted ship and largest pure sailing vessel (without an auxiliary engine) ever built. Destroyed off the uninhabited island of Annet in a storm on December 14, 1907.

River Lune struck in fog and at night just south of Annet (Scillies), July 27th, 1879 – the same day as the Maipu. The master later blamed a faulty
 chronometer, since he had believed himself fifteen miles to the west.
 The ship heeled and sunk aft in the first ten minutes. The crew took 
to their boats, but returned in daylight to collect their belongings. 
This barque was only eleven years old. She broke up soon afterwards.

John Fowles. Shipwreck. 1975

Pindos, 1912, a remolque rumbo a Hamburgo.

Encallaldo en Chynhalls Point (Lizard), EL10 de Febrero de 1912. El Pindos fue construído y armado por intereses británicos en sus primeros seis años de su vida, pero en 1896 fue vendido a Hamburgo. En 1911 habia llevado ladrillos a Sud America y traido de regreso a Falmouth con nitratos. Estaba siendo remolcado a Falmouth cuando se enfretaron a un fuerte sudeste saliendo de los Carrick Roads. El remolcador no lo pudo contener y fue llevado de lado hacia los arrecifes. La tripulacion alemana fue salvada durante la noche, pero mas tormentas  pornto hicieron pedazos de este gran buque.

The French ship, the barque SV Seine (built in 1899) was on her way to Falmouth with a cargo of nitrate when she ran into a gale off Scilly on Decermber 28, 1900. She ran ashore in Perran Bay, Perranporth, Cornwall, but thankfully all crew members were rescued with Captain Guimper reported as the last man to leave the ship before she was broken up in the next flood tide.

Ran ashore in Perran Bay (Perranporth), December 28th, 1900. This beautiful ship was a French ‘bounty clipper’ – so called because a government subsidy to French ship-owners allowed them to build for elegance rather than more mundane qualities. The crew got off in heavy seas. By dawn the next day she was dismasted and on her beam-ends, and broke up on the next flood-tide. Two weeks later the hulk of this celebrated barque was bought for only £42.

El velero NOISIEL, en las arenas de Praa, Cornwall 1905, mientras navegaba de Cherburgo a Italia con 600 tons de placas de acero acorazado, el 7 de Agosto de 1905. Los buques que no podían rodear el Lizard en tormentas del sur estaban atrapados en la Bahía de Mount o crcados allí... muchos de ellos no podian navegar cvlose to the wind". El unico consuelo para la tripulacion era la presencia de las muchas playas de arena. El surf te puede ahogar, pero los cliffs de granito hacian cosas mucho mas terribles al cuerpo humano. El Noisiel estaba navegando desde Cherburgo a Italia con un cargamento de acero acorazado, pero se encontró con una gran tormenta cerca de Ushant y debío correrla hacia Plymouth, cuando la carga se movió y el buque escoró. Forzado a entrar a Mount´s Bay, el capita trató de anclar, el cable se partió y una segunda angla garreo en el fondo arenoso. Eventualmente el buque quedo de costado contra las olas y rompió su quilla. Seis de los tripulantes saltaron a tierra y la primera vez que en tierra alguien supo del hundimiento fué un señora de edad cuando vio una cara negra mirandola por la ventana. Era el cocinero de a bordo. Se llevo un cable hasta el buque desde tierra y rescató al resto de la tripulación, aunque dos se habian ahogado en el primer intento. La carga del buque aun se puede ver luego de grades bajantes.,
Voorspoed 1901- el buque de carga holandes aparece rodeado de caballos usados para retirar la carga luego de su naufragio en Perran Bay, Cornwal en Marzo de 1901. Todos los que estaban a bordo perecieron en el accidente, cuando el buque viajaba desde Newfoundland, Canada, a Perranporth, Cornwall.
SV Albert Wilhelm 1886, a German brig was lost 16 October 1886 Lelant, a 202 ton German Brig travelling from the Isle of Man to Fowey.
El CVIET, que encalló cerca de Porthleven en 1884.
The Suffolk, Lizard, 1886, a steamship carrying general cargo and cattle from Baltimore to London. Courtesy Sotheby's.
SS Blue Jacket 1898.

SS Blue Jacket (United Kingdom) November 1898: She was unaccountably wrecked on a clear night a few yards from the Longships lighthouse, Lands End, Cornwall. The crew were saved by the Sennen lifeboat. Noall, C. (1969?) Cornish Shipwrecks Illustrated. Truro: Tor Mark Press; p. 21

Stuck fast – and surely a classic example of the expression – on the 
Longships lighthouse rocks off Land’s End, December 9th, 1898. This tramp was in ballast from Plymouth to Cardiff. The captain went below to his cabin – and his wife – at 9.30 p.m., leaving the mate on watch. He was woken near midnight by a tremendous crash, and came on deck to find his listing ship brilliantly illuminated by the lighthouse only a few yards away. Captain, wife and crew took to their boats and were picked up by the Sennen lifeboat. How the mate managed to play moth to this gigantic candle – the weather was poor, but provided at least two miles’ visibility – has remained a mystery. The Blue Jacket sat perched in thisludicrous position for over a year. - John Fowles. Shipwreck. 1975

MV Cita 1997.

The German owned 300ft merchant vessel the Cita, sunk after it pierced its hull and ran aground in gale-force winds en route from Southampton to Belfast in March 1997. The mainly Polish crew of the stricken vessel were rescued a few hours after the incident by the RNLI and the wreck remained on the rock ledge for several days before slipping off into deeper water.

On 26 March 1997, the 300-ft merchant vessel MV Cita pierced its hull when running aground on rocks off the south coast of the Isles of Scilly in gale-force winds en route from Southampton to Belfast. The incident happened just after 3 am when the German-owned, Antiguan-registered 3,000 tonne vessel hit Newfoundland Point, St Mary’s. The mainly Polish crew of the stricken vessel were rescued a few hours after the incident by St Mary’s Lifeboat, RNLB Robert Edgar with the support of a H-3 Sea King rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose. They sailed to the UK mainland on board the Scillonian III later that afternoon. Many containers were washed up on the rocks and beaches of the Isles of Scilly, and many were found in the Celtic Sea, travelling as far as Cornwall. (Wikipedia)

Scilonian
The Brinkburn, Maiden Bower, Isles of Scilly, 1898, carrying 9000 bales of cotton from Galveston to Le Havre. Courtesy of Sotheby's

“The steamer Brinkburn, belonging to Messrs. Harris and Dixon, of London, from Galverton for Havre, with cotton, ran ashore on the Maiden Bower, Isles of Scilly, on Thursday at midnight during dense fog.  The crew of 30 took to their lifeboats and landed in safety. The Brinkburn is a total wreck.” 15/12/1898

SS Schiller was a 3,421 ton German ocean liner, one of the largest vessels of her time. Launched in 1873 she plied her trade across the Atlantic Ocean, carrying passengers between New York and Hamburg for the German Transatlantic Steam Navigation Line. She became notorious on 7 May 1875, when while operating on her normal route she hit the Retarrier Ledges in the Isles of Scilly, causing her to sink with the loss of most of her crew and passengers, totalling 335 fatalities.

Captain Thomas needed to slow due to poor visibility in thick sea fog as she entered the English Channel, and was able to calculate that his ship was in the region of the Isles of Scilly, and thus within range of the Bishop Rock lighthouse which would provide him with information about his position. To facilitate finding the islands and the reefs which surround them, volunteers from the passengers were brought on deck to try to find the light. These lookouts unfortunately failed to see the light, which they were expecting on the starboard quarter, when in fact it was well to port (nautical). This meant that the Schiller was sailing straight between the islands on the inside of the lighthouse, leaving the ship heading towards the Retarrier Ledges.

The Schiller grounded on the reef at 10pm, sustained significant damage, but not enough in itself to sink the large ship. The captain attempted to reverse off the rocks, pulling the ship free but exposing it to the heavy seas which were brewing, which flung the liner onto the rocks by its broadside three times, stoving in the hull and making the ship list dangerously as the lights died and pandemonium broke out on deck as passengers fought to get into the lifeboats.

It was at these boats that the real disaster began, as several were not seaworthy due to poor maintenance and others were destroyed, crushed by the ship’s funnels which fell amongst the panicked passengers. The captain attempted to restore order with his pistol and sword, but as he did so, the only two serviceable lifeboats were launched, carrying 27 people, far less than their full capacity. These boats eventually made it to shore, carrying 26 men and one woman.

On board the ship the situation only became worse, as breakers washed completely over the wreck. All the women and children on board, over 50 people, were hurried into the deck house to escape the worst of the storm. It was there that the greatest tragedy happened, when before the eyes of the horrified crew and male passengers, a huge wave ripped off the deck house roof and swept the occupants into the sea, killing all inside. The wreck continued to be pounded all night, and gradually those remaining on board were swept away or died from exposure to cold seas, wind and resulting hypothermia, until the morning light brought rescue for a handful of survivors.

The recognized manner of signaling disaster at sea was by the firing of minute guns, carried on all ships for signalling purposes. Unfortunately, it had become the custom in the islands to fire a minute gun as your ship passed safely through the area, and so the firing of the Schiller’s guns failed to produce hoped for rescue. Such an operation at night and in the dark would have been near impossible anyway with such high seas, and thus it was not until the first light that rescue craft began arriving.
St Agnes pilot gig, the O and M, was summoned to investigate multiple cannon shots. Her crew discovered the mast of the sinking Schiller. The O and M rowed to pick up five survivors before returning to St Agnes for assistance. Steamers and ferries from as far away as Newlyn, Cornwall, assisted the rescue operation.

Of her original 254 passengers and 118 crew, there were 37 survivors. The death toll, 335, made the disaster one of the worst in British history. (Wikipedia)

The Punta, 1955

SS City of Cardiff  1912.

21 March – City of Cardiff (United Kingdom) wrecked at Nanjizal, two miles south of Land’s End. The Sennen Life-Saving Apparatus Team took the crew off by breeches buoy. Citation: Corin, J.; Farr, G. (1983). Penlee Lifeboat. Penzance: Penlee & Penzance Branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. p. 120.

The steamer City of Cardiff pictured trapped on rocks with steam still coming out of the chimney, it was washed ashore by a strong gale in March 1912 at Nanjizel. The Captain, his wife and son, and the crew were all rescued but the vessel was left a total wreck. British ship built 1906, the City of Cardiff was en route from Le Havre, France, to Wales in 1912 when it was wrecked in Mill Bay near Land’s End. All of the crew were rescued.

SS Tripolitania Italian cargo ship (built 1897) ran aground on the 26th December 1912. Driven ashore in a Westerly gale, she beached and attempts were made to refloat her over the coming months on a spring tide. This was unsuccessful and she was eventually scrapped.

“Boxing Day 1912 was remembered by the advent of a south westerly gale, the full force of which was experienced at the Loe Bar, the stretch of shingle and sand separating the Loe Pool from the sea near Porthleven. This Italian Steamer Tripolitania was 2,297 tons. She became firmly embedded and despite strenuous efforts to release her from this perilous position, she was broken up and shipped as scrap from local Porthleven. It has been stated that about £8,000 had been expended on trying to save her. Many tons of sand and shingle were removed in an attempt to free the Tripolitania in the Loe Bar Sands and a great expense was incurred to try and salvage the ship. Tugs stood by for the attempt on the full tide on the morrow, but a storm arose during the night and embedded the vessel even firmer than before. After this incident hopes for refloating her were abandoned and she was broken up for scrap iron. One man was drowned and his body was never recovered.”

Anon. “Tripolitania,” on the Helston History website Nd

The Paris, Lowlands Point, The Lizard, 1899, A French Liner travelling from New York to Plymouth with 300 passengers. Courtesy of Sotheby's.
The MV Poleire was a Cypriot motor vessel of some 2300 tons. In April 1970 she was on a voyage from Ireland to Gdynia in Poland carrying a cargo of zinc ore when she struck the Little Kettle Rock, which lies just north west of Tresco. There was a thick fog when she struck, and although less than a mile from the Round Island light house, her master failed to hear the fog signal. The sea was flat calm so all the crew managed to get off safely. Within a week the Poleire broke in two and sank.
The Suevic, The Lizard, a 12,500 ton steamship from Australia.

Struck on the Maenheere ('menhir') Rock off the Lizard Head, March 17, 1907. This 12,500-ton liner was coming in from Australia with 456 passengers and crew (and one stowaway) when a combination of poor visibility and poor navigation brought her to grief. There followed the most successful rescue in the history of the lifeboat service - not a soul was lost. The ship was so badly damaged that she was eventually blown in half. The aft section was towed to Southampton and a new bow built. The Suevic was a troopship during the First World War, and then a whaling factory ship, and she died honourably. Her Norwegian crew scuttled her in 1942 to save her from falling into German hands

 

2 Noviembre de 1875- Vapor AKSAI, bandera Rusa,  navegó directo a la isla White en St. Martin debido a la niebla, mientras iba a Odessa cargado con carbon de Cardiff. El capitan y su tripulacion de 39 hombres fueron salvados por el buque Lady of the Isles. Citation: Larn, Richard (1992). Shipwrecks of the Isles of Scilly. Nairn: Thomas & Lochar
Earl of Londsdale, 1885-  travelling from Alexandria to Portished- 1543 tons stemship St Agnes
http://www.atlantictransportline.us/content/31Minnehaha.htm
The Mohegan struck the Manacles, October 14th, 1898. One of the most dreaded of all reefs, 
the Manacles (from the Cornish ‘maen eglos’, rocks of the church, a reference 
to the landmark of St Keverne’s tower) stand east of the Lizard promontory, 
in a perfect position to catch shipping on the way into Falmouth – and before
Marconi ‘Falmouth for orders’ (as to final North European destination) was
 the commonest of all instructions to masters abroad. But the Mohegan was
 outward bound, and hers is one of the most mysterious of all Victorian sea-disasters.
 She was a luxury liner on only her second voyage, from Tilbury to New York.
 Somewhere off Plymouth a wrong course was given. A number of people on shore 
realized the ship was sailing full speed (13 knots) for catastrophe; a coastguard
 even fired a warning rocket, but it came too late. The great ship struck just as 
the passengers were sitting down to dinner. She sank in less than ten minutes,
 and 106 people were drowned, including the captain and every single deck officer,
 so we shall never know how the extraordinary mistake, in good visibility, was made.
 The captain’s body was washed up headless in Caernarvon Bay three months later.
 Most of the dead were buried in a mass grave at St. Keverne.

John Fowles. Shipwreck. 1975

Sin Datos
The Jeanne Gougy, 1962,  a French fishing trawler (built 1948) ran aground on the 3rd November 1962. Several crew were rescued by Sergeant Eric Smith from a Whirlwind Mk 10 helicopter when he was winched down to the wheelhouse despite it being submerged by breaking waves. He was awarded a George Medal for his rescues.

“The dramatic but tragic shipwreck in which eleven men died and the rescue of the rest of the crew of the Jean Gougy, occurred on November 3rd 1962. The French trawler out of Dieppe, was bound for the fishing grounds of the southern Irish coast when it went aground on the north side of Lands End. At 05.20h, the Sennen Coxswain was contacted by the coastguard who informed him of the trawler’s situation. The firing of the maroons at Sennen Cove awoke two young Royal Marines from their deep sleep, bivouacking as they were, on the flat concrete platform that then existed not far from the lifeboat station at Sennen Cove. The reserve lifeboat on temporary duty at the station was launched as the two marines slowly dozed off back to sleep.

The lifeboat took approximately one hour to reach the scene at Lands End. A parachute flare was fired and the trawler could be seen lying on her side on rocks at the foot of the cliff. A very heavy swell prevailed after the storm. It was impossible for the lifeboat to get any closer than a hundred yards. An L.S.A team at the top of the cliff had fired several lines over the trawler, but the crew could not secure them as the trawler was completely submerged by the heavy swell. Several men were washed out of the wheelhouse. At 8.15h a helicopter from Chivener arrived and, together with the lifeboat, carried out a search of the area. The lifeboat found two seamen and the helicopter one. They were all dead. At 9.00h the helicopter left for Penzance to land a body and to then refuel at Culdrose Naval Air Base near Helston.
I had awoken with a start at the explosions around me, mistakenly in my stupor believing it was already bonfire night, which of course was two days away. I went back to sleep. Waking sometime later my climbing partner and I packed our equipment and proceeded to walk from Sennen Cove where we had been climbing the previous day, over to Lands End for another days climbing. As we approached Lands End, we noticed people standing on the northern headland. On arriving at approximately midday, we walked over to the zawn beneath us, into which a policeman was peering. There on it’s side was a trawler and looking up at us and waving were many trapped people in the wheelhouse.

Turning to the policeman I said “If my mate and I rope down this side of the zawn (there is a tidal platform, a ledge there), we can set up a belay station, throw our other rope in through the broken wheelhouse window and one by one pull those guys to the cliff below us” (the tide was going out). “Go away” was his curt reply. And so we walked away. In the next four hours, eight more fisherman lost their lives. The outcome could have been so very different.

As there appeared to be no one left alive on the Jean Gougy the lifeboat had made for Newlyn to land two bodies, it being impossible to return to Sennen Cove due to the tide. At noon however a woman watching from the top of the cliff top saw a man’s hand waving inside the wheelhouse and heard him calling. The coastguards fired a line over the trawler and a man, clinging to the edge of the wheelhouse as the vessel was now completely on her side, struggled to grasp it. He was prevented by heavy waves. Eventually he secured the line and was hauled to safety in the breeches buoy. Three others being rescued afterwards by the same means. The helicopter, on being recalled, hovered over the ship and lowered a crewman who saved two more seamen. These six had survived by breathing trapped air in pockets at the wheelhouse and forecastle. On learning of these developments, the Penlee lifeboat Soloman Browne launched at 12.45h and arrived threequarters of an hour later. The Sennen lifeboat also returned to the scene at 15.45h. With the helicopter they again searched the area but with no success. It was later learned that the trawler carried a crew of 18, 11 of whom lost their lives, including the skipper.

Sergeant E.C. Smith of the R.A.F who was lowered to the trawler to save the two injured men received the George Medal and also the Silver Medal of the Societe Nationale des Hospitaliers Sauveteurs Bretons. The stirring events connected with this shipwreck, which received extensive press and television coverage, provided an excellent illustration for the public of the manner of work the three principle sea rescue services provided in this country, and of the cooperation existing between them.”

Millenium Moments – The Jean Gougy – A personal recollection by Dennis Morrod

  

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