Schooner Hannah and Eleanor Rescued from Tynemouth Haven, 7th February 1883
It had become usual since the piers had been under construction, that during violent storms, ships from miles around would turn and make for the safety of the Tyne. It was in one such south-easterly storm with a heavy rolling sea that the 169 ton schooner Hannah and Eleanor, carrying a full load of coal from Seaham to Rochester, was caught.
As she approached the harbour in tow from a steam tug, she was struck by a large wave while crossing the bar and the cable snapped. She was then driven onto the rocks below the North Pier. The vessel struck the rocks at 9.30am, 100 yards out from ‘the four posts’ (the old ferry landing stage).
Meanwhile, the guns had been sounded and crowds from the village had gathered on every vantage point. The coastguardsmen and the brigadesmen were ready on the Pier and a line was fired aboard. However, the Tyne Lifeboat Institution’s, Willie Wouldhave, based at North Shields, was also on hand to rescue the crew of five seamen, having also been towed to the scene. The Tynemouth and South Shields lifeboats, Charles Dibdin and Tom Perry, stood by as the men were brought to safety.
The crew were forwarded to their homes by the Shipwrecked Mariners Society. The locals also received a windfall, as coal from the ship was washed ashore as she broke up.
Salvagers descend on the beach:
“The scene in the Haven at Tynemouth was particularly animated for Sunday. Broken into innumerable pieces and piled up in a confused heap, were the remains of the Seaham schooner Hannah and Eleanor. She had stoutly refused throughout Thursday’s fury to break up, but had succumbed the following day, her destruction then being complete. Her remains lay just awash on the stones near the landing jetty of the General Ferry Company, showing how narrow the escape from destruction that structure had been.
The cargo of coals had tumbled out and were strewn about the beach. Quite a crowd of persons were rummaging amongst the broken timbers, and a number of men were busily plying shovels amongst the coals, some filling baskets which they carried away and deposited the contents in heaps higher up the sands out of the reach of the tide, whilst others went to the extent of employing a horse and cart, and leading the sodden coals right away on to the bank top.
For months past an immense quantity of iron belonging to the barque alluded to [the Iron Crown] has been strewn on the rocks at the spot where the Hannah and Eleanor are lying. Here it has been either broken or cut up, making the place at low tide resemble a scrap iron yard. This added greatly to the scene of destruction yesterday, and the wreckage of the wooden vessel having become considerably intermixed with it, the work going on was rendered more difficult.”From a local publication, unknown
Key accounts of the rescue:
“The tide was very low at the time and the lifeboat “Charles Dibdin” had to be hauled over 600 yards (589 meters) of sand by horses and helpers before she was launched from the Haven. The lifeboat “Willie Wouldhave”, having been towed down from North Shields by a steam tug, arrived at the wreck first and the crew elected to go ashore in her. The Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade had put a line aboard and the hawser had been secured to the ship, so crewmen from “Charles Dibdin” went aboard to release the line in order that it could be recovered onto the pier. The lifeboat then ran out two anchors from the ship in the hope that they might be used in a recovery attempt, but “Hannah and Eleanor went to pieces where she lay.
The “Charles Dibdin”s crew were J. Redford, Alexander Rollo, David Rollo, Christopher Rollo, J. Chisholm, James Gilbert jun., J. Armstrong, J.Lisle, Thomas Smith, Joseph Smith, William Winter, Thomas Ferguson snr., James Linkleter, William Birkill, Robert Bryson, Thomas Davison and James Gilbert, cox.”From a local publication, unknown
“… at the time of writing a complete hurricane is blowing. The schooner “Hannah and Eleanor”, which went ashore in the Haven yesterday, is still holding together. The coxswain of the Haven lifeboat (Mr. Gilbert) took the precaution while on board the stranded ship to slip the anchors, and, when the tide came up, she rode for some considerable time. Eventually the fastenings slipped, and she drove towards the “Iron Crown” wreck. The schooner struck the Spa Rocks several times, almost tearing out her keel and the result was that she filled with water and settled down. During the night, a watch was kept at both Brigade Houses.”From a local publication, unknown
Thank you to Brigade Chairman and Historian, John Wright and Steve Ellwood @TyneSnapper for their help in curating this information.
The Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade need support in order to continue to their vital work keeping people safe on our shorelines. Please consider a donation here: justgiving.com/tynemouth-vlb