The Hayle lifeboat New Oriental Bank (later renamed E.F. Harrison) with the wreck of the SS Escurial in the background, Portreath, Cornwall. 25th January 1895
SS Escurial, an iron built schooner-rigged screw steamer built by Alex Stephens of Lighthouse, Govan, for Raeburn and Verel of Glasgow in 1879, was outward bound from Cardiff, laden with 1,350 tons of coal for the Adriatic port of Fiume. The weather was bitterly cold with the threat of snow. She had a bows on collision with a Welsh pilot cutter at midnight, but neither was apparently harmed. However, in the rising seas Captain Andrews was concerned about a list that she had taken on while loading at Cardiff and ordered Second Officer Nicol to inspect the foreholds. This revealed a bad leak forward of the engine room. After a long battle to reduce the water intake and the list, which was further complicated by the failure of machinery plus injuries to members of the crew, life belts were issued and distress signals fired. As dusk fell, the gale increased with the wind from due north. The Hayle lifeboat had to be taken overland to Portreath to be launched. Several attempts at rescue were made by the lifeboat and coastguard rocket. In the photograph, men can be seen clinging to the ships rigging awaiting rescue. Of the crew of nineteen, eleven lives were lost due to the rescuers being unable to reach the vessel because of the position of the ships grounding far out in the surf, the mountainous seas and bitterly cold weather. Photographer: John Charles Burrow.
© From the collection of the RIC