The wreck of the collier Bessie, with all that remains of the wrecked Vulture in the surf beyond, Carbis Bay, Lelant, Cornwall. 1893
A view of the Bessie wrecked at Carbis Bay, broadside to the surf, with the machinery of the Vulture beyond. SS Bessie (ON 49984) was an iron three masted brigantine rigged steamer of 287 tons gross, built in 1865 for the busy Hayle to Bristol trade and launched by Harvey and Company of Hayle. She was sold in 1889 to James Richards of Penarth and ran aground at Carbis Bay on 18th November 1893 while carrying coal from Cardiff to Portland, under the command of Captain David Moloney. Cintra and Vulture were wrecked on the same occasion. On page 84 of Cornish Shipwrecks, by Clive Carter, is a description of the days events: 'On 17th November 1893 came the 'Cintra Gale'. It had been a particularly stormy month, and soon after the 418-ton iron collier Cintra of Liverpool left Newport old dock for Dartmouth on the night of the 15th the wind again freshened from the ESE. It increased, and at 4pm next day Captain Henry Green of Brixham anchored in seven fathoms a mile off Carbis Bay. A few hours later another collier fled for shelter, the 345-ton Vulture of Cardiff, Hole master, and likewise bound for Dartmouth. At dusk they were joined by none other than the Bessie, whose anchor clattered down only half a mile from where she had grounded in 1866. She was bound from Cardiff to Portland under the command of Captain David Maloney. Captain Green of the Cintra prepared to slip and steam seaward, but huge seas were already smashing on board. Stanchions were buckled, ventilators snapped off, and at 2am the windlass seized up, jamming the anchor chains solid. As dawn broke the gale made its final shift to NNE; the Cintra was ready to sink at anchor, and men who tried to cut the fouled chains with hammers and chisels were driven back to shelter of the bridge. Captain Green hoisted a distress signal and gave orders for the lifeboat to be lowered but it capsized as it touched the water, and chief engineer Rogers, fire-man Summers and two able seamen disappeared in the surf. As Cintra lurched on to the sands it was every man for himself. Captain Green, steward Jones, two engineers and a fire-man jumped overboard, but able seaman Ash of Brixham, though handed a lifebelt by the captain, stayed behind, hoping the collier would ebb dry. The others were dragged ashore by coastguards and rocket men, but the chief engineer and the fireman died half an hour after rescue. Meanwhile, the crew of the Vulture, all of whom came from St Ives and Hayle, were landing by breeches-buoy. A few minutes after Captain Hole came ashore the Cintra, which lay only 100 yards away, suddenly broke up, drowning able seaman Ash. The Bessie's crew were also soon rescued, though the gale at this time was sufficient to stop dead both morning trains a mile from Carbis Bay, where the GWR branch line from St Erth crossed the exposed dunes. Later in the day the 936-ton iron screw steamer Rosedale of London, Dickenson master, in ballast from Southampton to Cardiff, wallowed past St Ives pier and went broadside on to Porthminster beach'. Photographer: Unknown.
© From the collection of the RIC
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