National Coastwatch - Mundesley
EYES ALONG THE COAST
Our part of the coast is infamous as a treacherous stretch of water for mariners, and as such is littered with dozens, if not hundreds, of shipwrecks. Below are details of just a few of them......
One of the Most Famous
On March 16th 1801 HMS Invincible set sail from Yarmouth under the flag of Rear Admiral Thomas Totty to join the fleet of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker and Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson in the Sound preparing for the upcoming Battle of Copenhagen against the Danish fleet, with approximately 650 people on board. As the ship passed the Norfolk coast, she was caught in heavy wind and stuck on the Hammond Knoll Rock off Happisburgh, where she was pinned for some hours in the afternoon before breaking free but immediately being grounded on a sandbank, where the effect of wind and waves tore down the masts and began to break up the ship. She remained in that position for all of the following day, but late in the evening drifted off the sandbank and sank in deep water.
The admiral and 195 sailors escaped the wreck in the ship's boats and were picked up by a passing collier and fishing boat, but over 400 of their shipmates drowned in the disaster, most of them once the ship began to sink in deeper water.
Many of her crew are buried in a mass grave at Happisburgh Churchyard.
One of the Most Recent
On August 4th 2007 the general cargo vessel MV JORK struck the ConocoPhillips Viking Echo gas platform 40 miles north-east of Cromer, and sank the following day. The platform, which was unmanned, suffered very slight damage. There is a 500 metre exclusion zone around such rigs.
As a result of the impact, and resulting 30 degree list, water was able to reach the cargo of grain which swelled and burst the hull.
The six Polish crew members, wearing lifejackets, jumped into the sea and were recovered by the Putford Puffin, one of two standby vessels which steamed to the scene.
The Polish Captain continued efforts to save the ship before also abandoning ship when it began to sink. He later appeared before Boston Magistrates Court on a charge of being drunk in charge of a sea vessel and was subsequently jailed for a year.
ONE OF THE LAST PICTURES OF THE MV JORK BEFORE IT WAS LOST
One of the Most Researched
On the 1st December 1911, the barque Walkure (German for Valkyrie) set sail from Hamburg with 24 crew, bound for Santos, Brazil. Two days later in thick fog, she became stuck on Haisborough Sands. Six tugs worked in gale force winds for four days, to try to tow her off the sandbank, but on the 6th December all hope of salving the ship were abandoned when the mainmast forced a hole through the hull. The crew were rescued by various craft, including the Gorleston Lifeboat, and taken to the Sailor's Home in Great Yarmouth where Mr and Mrs Herbert Bracey, who ran the Home, provided dry clothing and hot meals.
(Many thanks to Shipwrecks UK for this info. For more detailed information on this and other shipwrecks around the UK, visit their website: http://www.shipwrecks.uk.com/news.htm )
In March 1969 the MV Jonet ran aground on Mundesley beach right in front of the Lookout. Coming up the coast in foggy conditions, the skipper had unfortunately mistaken the Happisburgh lighthouse for the Cromer lighthouse, and turned (as he thought) towards the Wash.
The skipper and three crew were rescued before the sea drove the vessel into a groyne, causing the Jonet to become a complete wreck. Her cargo of fertiliser was salvaged before she was fired and broken up for scrap. Some of the items salvaged can be seen in the Maritime Museum, where Mundesley Coastwatch is located.
Dockers from Yarmouth were taken out to the wreck to assist in recovering some of the cargo, which included bicycles, sewing machines, medicines, fancy china, brass reading lamps and various foodstuffs. That part of the cargo salvaged was sold at auction at the Corn Hall in Great Yarmouth on 30th December in almost 400 lots. Such was the interest that 178 lots were sold in the first hour. Some of the more handsome sewing machines, with rounded covers and well-finished fetched £2 4s. Local fishermen were seen buying them as late Christmas presents for their wives!
The ship was built in Dumbarton on the river Clyde in 1896 and launched as the Conway. Her first voyage was to Buenos Aries from Glasgow. The Master, a James Hume, was paid £12 per month, and his crew included two cabin boys, aged 7 and 9, who received 1/- (5p) each per month.
The Conway was sold in April 1905 to a German company H.Folsch & Co of Hamburg and renamed the Walkure.
The wreck has been and still is popular with divers, including the late Mike Barnwell, a former Watchkeeper with Mundesley Coastwatch, and the Cambridge Sub-Aqua Club who have kindly permitted us to publish these pictures of the wreck.
We also thank the family of the late Stephen Holt (aka Ayer Tikus) for allowing us to use information from his book "The Ship-Wrecks off North East Norfolk" - visit his website www. ship-wrecks.co.uk
LOWER SECTION OF THE WALKURE'S MAINMAST
THE BOWSPRIT OF THE WALKURE VANISHING
INTO THE DISTANCE
SHIP'S WHEEL AND LAMPS SALVAGED
FROM THE MV JONET ON DISPLAY
IN MUNDESLEY MARITIME MUSEUM
In the early hours of the 14th of January 2008, the Car Carrier City of Sunderland ran aground on Haisboro Sands within sight of Mundesley Coastwatch Station. Watchkeepers were used to seeing the 9,576-tonne ship pass the Station carrying cars to and from the North East of England. For some reason, on this occasion, the ship sailed too close to the notorious sandbank and became stranded, with a crew of 13 and a cargo of 642 Renault cars. Two tugs managed to refloat the ship the following day. No-one was injured, but emergency services stood by just in case. For the newly-launched Tamar class Cromer lifeboat, the Lester, this was its first service.
And The One that Got Away!
THE CITY OF SUNDERLAND STRANDED
OFF THE NORFOLK COAST
This is not the first time the City of Sunderland has been in trouble. It ran aground off Finland on New Years Day in 2002. There are also unconfirmed reports that it has run aground since - on Tyneside in September 2008!!
THE SOLIDIFIED CONTENTS OF MANY BARRELS
LITTER THE STERN SECTION OF THE WRECK