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