1703 - The Richard and John & her prize the Bandera from Virginia were both lost with all hands 

at the entrance to the river Avon.

1705 - Two customs boats wrecked t the entrance to the river Avon with the loss of 22 officers.

1737 - The snow Pye and the brig Priscilla carrying tobacco from Virginia, both went aground at 

Nash Point. Some 300-400 people stripped the ships of their cargo ! They even burnt the hulls to 

get the ironwork.

1752 - The Indian Prince, of Bristol, with a cargo of sugar, rum, cotton, ebony and ivory, from 

Guinea, went aground at Stout Point, Llantwit Major. The cargo was looted freely by the local 

19 September 1757 - the collier Marie wrecked at Lundy with the loss of all hands.
28 November 1760 - Admiralty tender Caesar (Captain Adam Hood) with a smaller tender named 

Reeves were lying at anchor in Mumbles Roads waiting to set sail on a  Press Gang mission along 

the coast. The Caesar set sail for Carmarthen Bay but the weather was severe and he told his 

pilot to take the boat back to Mumbles. The pilot made an error and mistook Pwlldu Head on the 

Gower for Mumbles Head and as a result the ship hit the rocks near the headland. Some of the 

crew got ashore and climbed the cliffs, but during the night the ship broke up and the 68 

pressed men already taken aboard, who were locked in the hold, all died. The place on the 

headland where the bodies were buried is known as Gravesend.

January 1769 the French ship La Concorde carrying rum and brandy capsized near Aberthaw, 

Glamorgan. It is said that before the officials were able to get to her some 2000 people had 

gathered and were attacking the wreck  with hatchets to "save" the cargo. 35 people are said to 

have died on the beach from excessive drinking ! and were buried there.

On 3 June 1770 the Dutch West India-man Planters Welvard on passage from Surinam to the 

Netherlands was blown off course and into the Bristol Channel where she was blown ashore at 

Porthcawl Point. Amongst those killed were three brothers named Jackert on their way to school 

in the Netherlands.
On 10 February 1799 HMS Weazle, a sloop of war, (Commander the Hon. Henry Grey) was at 

Appledore, Devon, waiting to go out anti-privateering along the Cornish coast. Leaving port that 

evening she cleared Bideford Bar only to hit severe weather conditions in the Bristol Channel. 

The commander decided to shelter under Baggy Point near Braunton, Devon. The weather worsened 

and the sloop was driven aground just short of the Point with the loss of all 106 officers and 

crew. A memorial service was held at Northam Church, Devon.

In February 1802 the Spanish ship Nuestra Senora del Carmen, fron Bilbao for Bristol, was lost 

with all hands on the Scarweather Sands.

In June 1806 the sloop Hope, of Bridgwater, was lost with all hands on the Mixon Sands.

On 10 December 1806 the Trelawny, a Bristol West Indiaman bound for Jamaica, was driven ashore 

on Nash Point and was smashed to pieces. The captain was killed by the fall of the mainmast, but 

the mate, pilot and 15 to 20 others escaped in the ship's boats. Eleven other crew and 

passengers were lost.

In Sptember 1810 the West Indiaman Mary, from Demerara to Bristol, was lost on the Scarweather 

Sands but all except three of her crew were saved.

In October 1810 the Union on a voyage from London to Cadiz was blown off course and wrecked on 

Cefn Sidan Sands, Carmarthenshire, with the loss of all hands.

In December 1810 the snow Teresa, of Bristol, returning from Trinidad, was wrecked near 

St.Donats, Glamorgan. All but two of the crew were saved.

On 8 February 1813 the schooner Delfin bound for Bristol was lost on the Black Rocks near 


On 28 October 1817 the William & Mary, a Bristol to Waterford sailing packet suddenly struck the 

rocks known as the Wolves off Flat Holm and sunk within minutes. 54 passengers were lost, 

including 22 women and children. Only one person survived. 50 bodies were recovered and buried 

on Flat Holm.
On 30 December 1818 the Victory bound from Newport to Ireland with a cargo of coal was wrecked 

on the Monkstone.

In July 1819 the brig George, of Ulverston, was wrecked on Scarweather Sands with the loss of 

eight crew.

On 21 November 1821 the Cardiff brig Marianne, bound for London, was driven ashore on Nash 

Sands. She quickly sank but the Revenue Cruiser Harpy rescued the crew.


On 21 December 1821 the Bideford brig Hebe on passage from Waterford to Bristol with eight crew 

and three passengers was partly wrecked off Porthcawl and then finally wrecked at Dunraven near 

St.Bides Major.  According to the contempoary account by Colonel Knight of Tythegston there were 

no boats suitable to put to sea in the severe conditions and the gale was such that not even the 

local rocket apparatus could be used. When the brig was finally wrecked some local people were 

not averse to stripping her cargo, although the Revd. Morgan of St.Brides Major and others tried 

to stop the looting. The body of the captain of the brig, Captain Thomas Carder, was found next 

day stripped by looters. He was buried at Wick church.

In 1824 the Portuguese schooner Sandica Connica bound for Bristol was wrecked on Sker Point, 

near Porthcawl. Fortunately the crew were saved.
On 21 November 1828 a French ship, La Jeune Emma (Captain de Chatellan) was on a voyage from 

Martinique in the West Indies to Le Havre, when, in a dense fog, he mistook Land's End for Cape 

Finisterre and the Lundy Island Light for Ushant Light. As a result he headed northward thinking 

he was heading for the Lizard, when he grounded on Cefn Sidan Sands, Carmarthenshire. Thirteen 

crew and passengers were washed overboard and drowned, including Colonel Coquelin of the French 

Marine and his daughter who was niece to the Empress Josephine of France. Nine of those who died 

were buried in Pembrey Churchyard, including Coquelin and his daughter. The day after the wreck 

looters stole not only the ship's cargo of rum, sugar, spices, coffee, cotton and ginger, but 

also the personal posessions of the crew and passengers. 

In December 1830 the Falmouth brig Larch was wrecked on the Cefn-y-Wrach bar between the rivers 

Ely and Taff.

On the night of 16 March 1831 the Frolic, a schooner-rigged paddle steamer owned by the Bristol 

General Navigation Co., on the last part of a regular journey from Haverfordwest to Bristol, 

struck the Nash Sands, Glamorgan, with the loss of all 80 passengers and crew, which included 

General MacLeod and several other army officers as well as several Pembrokeshire merchants.

It was as a result of the outcry following this disaster that Trinity House provided two 

lighthouses in 1832 to mark the safe channel between the sands and the mainland.


In October 1833 the brig Ann and Margaret was wrecked at Aberavon near Port Talbot. Captain John 

Bevan of the Copper Company schooner Gower and four of his men went to the rescue, partly using 

a small boat which they dragged to the area, and partly by swimming or wading out to the wreck 

with a line. They managed to save all six crew. Captain Bevan received the Silver Medal and his 

men got cash rewards.

In December 1833 the brig Amethyst, bound from Liverpool to Quebec, was driven into the Bristol 

Channel, and wrecked off Swansea. Her crew of eleven were saved by pilot John Mitchell and his 


On 1 November 1834 the Maltese barque Margaret sailed from Swansea with coal destined for 

Alexandria. On her sixth day out a violent change in the wind caused considerable damage to her 

hull, and she lost her fore and main yards and main topsail. The master decided to try to make 

Milford Haven but a thick mist caused him to change his mind and head for Mumbles Roads off 

Swansea. The barque made it to a point just off the Mumbles lighthouse where she anchored in the 

dark of night, with her crew continuously manning the pumps. When the tide fell, however, the 

barque struck the Mixon Sands. Fortunately she was able to get off into deeper water but was in 

such a damaged condition that the master decided to take four men in the ship's boat and head 

for Swansea to find help. This they did and twenty men set out in two steam tugs. The extra men 

were able to relieve the crew. Manning the pumps, raise the anchor and safely beach the barque 

on Mumbles Flats where she was unloaded and patched up.

In November 1834 the Wexford schooner Mary Ann, from Cardiff for Wexford with coal, struck the 

Mixon Sands where she was lost, the crew and passengers being saved by the Coastguards.

On 26 October 1835 the sloop John, of Chepstow, from Swansea, sank at the mouth of the River 

Neath. One of the crew tried to swim ashore but was drowned, whilst the other two clung to the 

mast. William Evans, a pilot, told the Revd. Edward Thomas of Briton Ferry that it was "a shame 

to see our fellow creatures perish before our eyes" and, against advice from other pilots,
took his small boat, William, with a crew of four, out to the wreck and saved the two remaining 

crew members. He was awarded the Silver Medal and he and his crew received monetary awards from 

the RNLI, The Swansea Harbour Trust and the River Neath Trustees.

In September 1838 the sloop Feronia, of St.Ives, Cornwall, was wrecked in Swansea Bay. The crew 

of three were saved by pilot John Reece who was awarded the Silver Medal.

On 7 January 1839 the London brig, Thomas Piele, bound from Swansea to Dublin with coal,  

stranded in the shallows some way out from the shore.  One of her crew who was an excellent 

swimmer reached the shore and said that the brig was fast breaking up. Captain Thomas Jones of 

the ship Two Sisters which was in port at Aberavon, along with Captain John Howell, Captain 

Charles Sutton and pilot Lewis Jenkins took the boat of the Two Sisters and rowed out through 

heavy seas to the wreck. Several times the onlookers on the beach thought the little boat had 

herself been lost and just when she reached the wreck a sudden breaker washed all four men 

temporarily overboard, broke most of the oars, and then washed the small craft back to the 

beach. Captain Jones changed his clothing, had a short rest, and then, again with the help of 

pilot Jenkins, plus Arthur Rees, mate of the Galatea, and Thomas Lewis, a seaman, rowed out 

again. For  second time, however, the sea washed all four overboard, and clinging to the boat 

and the oars they were sent back onto the beach badly bruised. Captain Joseph Foley of the 

schooner Richard, of Swansea, then took charge of the boat. Joined yet again by pilot Lewis 

Jenkins, and three others. This time they were successful and managed to take off the master and 

four crew of the sinking ship, but three other crew members had been lost already, washed from 

their hold on the mast. The Silver Medal was awarded to Captains Jones, Howell, Sutton and 

Foley, and to Pilot Lewis Jenkins and Arthur Rees. Other rescuers received awards of cash.

On 6 February 1839 the French brig Charles, bound from New Brunswick to Gloucester, struck the 

Scarweather rock off Porthcawl in dense fog. The customs boat and a pilot cutter went to help 

but the customs boat was driven back. However, the pilot eventually saved the whole of the crew 

of nine.

On 22 June 1839 the French lugger Les Enfants Cheris on passage from Nantes to Bristol was 

wrecked on Nash Sands. The crew were saved by Rees Lougher of Monknash, Glamorgan. He was 

awarded the RNLI silver medal for bravery.

On 4 November 1840 the schooner Yanden, of Newport, struck the brig Hopewell, of Cork, bow on in 

a hurricane. The Hopewell quickly sunk. Two seamen and four passengers escaped by climbing into 

the Yanden. The captain's son, two seamen and two passengers were drowned, but the captain, 

although he did not leave his ship until the last moment, was saved after clinging to a piece of 

wreckage for over two hours.

On 17 November 1840 the steam packet City of Bristol was driven off course by a severe storm in 

Rhossili Bay. Only two of the 17 crew and 10 passengers survived.

In January 1841 pilot Bidder and his crew saved the three crew of the schooner Fanny, of 

Bideford, which was wrecked on Mixon Sands.

On 10 January 1843 The Brothers of St.Ives, Cornwall, was returning home from Cardiff with coal 

when she disappeared off Hartland Point, Devon in a severe storm. There were no survivors.
On 13 January 1843 the John Lilley of Liverpool (barque) (Captain Townes) was on her way from 

Liverpool to Old Calabar, West Africa, when she was blown off course across the entrance to the 

Bristol Channel and onto the Welsh coast, and then back across the Channel onto the North Devon 

coast a few miles north-east of Bideford Bar, where she was seen by Captain Williams on the brig 

The Shepherdess of Appledore. Captain Williams took his boat alongside the John Lilley despite 

the severe conditions but was unable to transfer the crew of the latter ship partly because of 

the weather conditions and partly because many of the crew of the John Lilley were drunk 

(perhaps not surprising as the ship's cargo was rum and the crew must have thought they were not 

going to survive !). A couple of hours later the ship was driven onto Saunton Sands, near 

Braunton Lighthouse, Devon. The Master and crew were saved by the lighthouse keeper, the 

appropriately named Mr Lamping, the Appledore Customs Officer, Mr John Bowden and another local 


When the John Lilley went aground her cargo consisting partly of rum and tobacco went overboard 

and ended up on the beach. The Customs Officers, Excise Officers and Coastguards were fully 

employed in trying to prevent the local population from making off with the cargo ! Not very 

successfully it would appear as the Customs Collector at Barnstaple had to admit that much of 

the cargo had disappeared and despite searches in the surrounding area little had been found. 

7 September 1843 - Caledonia - 200 ton brig from Arbroath, Scotland  (Captain Peter) - On 

journey from Constantinople to Bristol - driven onto the rocks at Vicarage Cliffs, Morwenstow, 

Devon. The crew were washed overboard and only one, Edward La Daine from the Channel Islands, 

survived. He was taken to the Rectory where the Rev R.S.Hawker made sure that he was cared for 

and nursed back to health. The bodies of the drowned seamen were eventually washed up on the 

beach and buried in Morwenstow Churchyard. The figurehead of the brig is preserved in the 

churchyard and, remarkably, a message in a bottle from one of the seamen, thrown overboard 

before the final wreck of the brig, was washed up at Portledge where it, too,  is preserved in 

the Portledge Hotel just outside Bideford. The Rev Hawker erected a little hut on the cliffs 

immediately abovethe place where the wreck occurred and this is maintained by the National 


On 15 October 1846 the barque Bradshaw of Liverpool on passage from America to Liverpool was 

blown off course and into the Bristol Channel where she became a total wreck near Porthcawl.
On 14 February 1847 the French brig Emilie was wrecked on Nash Point and the crew of eight lost.

In November 1847 the barque Henry of Liverpool bound for Cardiff hit the Tusker Reef near 

Porthcawl and was breaking up when the Barnstaple smack William and Jane sighted her and was 

able to save 18 of her crew. Only one, an apprentice, was lost.
In November 1847 the Leith Packet from Newport for Stirling in Scotland was lost on the Tusker 

Reef but all hands were saved by a passing vessel.

In December 1847 the snow Circassian, of Sunderland, was driven ashore near the Mumbles East 

Pier. Her crew of six were taken off by pilot J George and his crew.

On 27 November 1848 the Sunderland barque Arietta was wrecked on Mixon Sands. The 2nd mate was 

washed overboard and drowned but the other 14 crew got away in the ship's boat and were picked 

up by the paddle  tug Dragon Fly.

On 9 November 1851 the French barque Pollux, 4000 tons (Captain Lindstrom), left Dublin for 

Alexandria but in the Irish Sea found herself in a very severe storm, the ballast shifted, and 

she heeled over to such an extent that the masts were close to horizontal, preventing her from 

getting upright. The master decided to cut away the main and mizzen masts in an effort to right 

her and this it did, but the vessel was now drifting out of control in the storm and was driven 

into the entrance to the Bristol Channel. She was sighted by two pilot cutters off the North 

Devon coast. The cutters pulled alongside and offered to tow the ship into Ilfracombe, at which 

the crew of the Pollux decided to abandon ship ! The cutters managed to get her into Clovelly 

Roads and next morning the crew, excluding the captain, returned to the ship. The captain 

excused himself saying that he had pressing business elsewhere ! The pilots, with help from 

local fishermen, tried to get the ship to Bideford but the ship's crew were not prepared to 

co-operate and the job was left entirely to the "rescuers". She grounded twice during these 

efforts and the Lloyds Agent now ordered a tug. However, for some unknown reason the Finnish 

crew cut the tow rope leaving the ship again drifting, finally grounding again on the beach at 

Clovelly. The Customs Officer declared that she could not be considered a wreck, and all the 

cargo was removed and placed in his custody. On the next tide the ship was refloated and towed 

off shore, anchored and left over night. The next morning, now without her ballast and cargo she 

was so light that the storm caused her anchor cables to break and she finally smashed to pieces 

on the shore. 
On the night of 29 March 1857 the schooner Trevaunance, of St.Ives, Cornwall, struck a sandbank 

off Porthcawl, and sank in a severe gale. The crew of four climbed the rigging tosave themselves 

from going down with the ship.  They lashed themselves to the topmast and waited for daylight as 

they had had no time to signal their distress and they could not be seen from the shore in the 

darkness. In the morning they were seen from the shore and a boat was sent to try to rescue 

them. The volunteer crew of this boat consisted of three pilots, James and Thomas Pearse and 

John Jones, and a seaman, George Clark. Unfortunately they could not get near enough to the mast 

to which the survivors were clinging. The small boat waited for several hours in danger itself, 

to get close to the sunken vessel, but as the tide rose the vessel submerged further and the 

survivors came closer and closer to drowning. Seeing that this was the last chance the crew of 

the rescue boat decided to try once more and with strenuous effort they managed to get close 

enough to grab the ratlines and three of the sailors got into the boat in a terrible condition. 

The fourth was already dead and his body could not be recovered. In all the survivors had been 

lashed to the mast for 16 hours.
The four volunteer rescuers were each awarded the RNLI Silver Medal and a gratuity.

On 13 October 1858 the schooner Ajax, of Plymouth, was wrecked off Kenfig Sands near Porthcawl. 

Seven coastguards pulled a gig  along the foreshore and put oou to the rescue in heavy seas. 

They saved all six crew members. James Collopy and Daniel Shea (Chief Officer of the 

Coastguards) were awarded the RNLI Silver Medal and the other rescuers received cash rewards for 

their bravery. Daniel Shea won the Silver Medal four times in all but was eventually drowned 

when the Padstow Lifeboat capsized in 1867.

In May 1859 the schooner Amelia of Dartmouth foumdered in a gale in the Channel. The crew of 

four were saved by the Coastguards.


On 2 November 1859 the Jersey barque Sunda went aground on Kenfig Sands, near Porthcawl, The 

master, his wife and four crew got into the ship's boat but were in danger of capsizing. C R 

Mansel Talbot, MP, of Margam Abbey (son of the founder of the town of Port Talbot) and John 

Williams, a local farmer, waded out into the sea to help them to land. A pilot vessel and a tug 

took the remainder of the crew off from the sea. The Silver Medal was awarded to Mansel Talbot 

and John Williams.

In October 1860 the schooner Kingston of Cork was wrecked off Penarth Head. Her crew of six 

escaped with the help of two local men who went into the sea to rescue them.

On 14 October 1860 the French schooner Jeune Honore was in collision with an Austrian ship off 

Lavernock Point near Penarth. The schooner's foremast fell into the sea with three men clinging 

to it. Three hands from a Bristol Pilot cutter managed to save the three men by use of their 


On 3 January 1861  the Mary Jane, of St.Ives, Cornwall, went aground on the Scarweather Sands. 

The crew abandoned her and got to safety and the boat was taken into Porthcawl Harbour by the 

new Porthcawl lifeboat (Good Deliverance) and repaired, only to be wrecked again, finally this 

time, at Portreath, Cornwall.

On 19 February 1861 the large American full-rigged ship William D Sewell bound from Bristol to 

Swansea in tow of a tug, became detached from her tug. She dropped anchors but these did not 

hold her and she dragged toward the West Nash Sands off Porthcawl. The Porthcawl lifeboat was 

called out but the packet steamer Mars, of Waterford, Ireland, reached her first and towed her 

to Bristol for repair.

On 20 December 1862 the brigantine Champion, of Liverpool, returning home from New Brunswick, 

Canada, with a cargo of timber, was driven off course and into the Bristol Channel by a strong 

gale. She went aground on the Scarweather Sands, breaking her mainmast. Her distress signal 

flags were seen from the mainland and the Porthcawl lifeboat went to her assistance, saving her 

nine crew and one passenger.

In January 1863 the Russian barque Heinrich Sorensen, bound from Bordeaux to Cardiff in ballast, 

was caught in a great storm and driven ashore on Breaksea Point, near Barry. The ship's boat had 

been lost and the crew of twelve decided to try to swim or wade ashore. William John of Limpert 

Farm and three other local men went into the dangerous seas and managed to assist all of the 

crew to safety. This was not the first time that William John had helped to save life and he was 

awarded the RNLI silver medal for his bravery.

On 3 December 1863 the Penarth lifeboat, George Gay, made her first successful attempt at rescue 

when the full rigged Jupiter, of London, and the barque Ellings, collided in Penarth Roads in a 

heavy N.W.gale. The Jupiter's crew of 8 jumped into the lifeboat as she pulled alongside the 

ship but were persuaded to return to the ship to try to save her, which, after two hours was 

accomplished sufficiently for her to find safety.


On the night of 18 November 1864 the Penarth lifeboat, George Gay, was towed by the paddle tug 

Marquis to the English and Welsh Grounds, near the mouth of the river Usk where the full rigged 

ship Far West, of Newport, with 22 crew, on her voyage from Chile via Queenstown, Ireland, to 

Newport, had run aground after losing her anchors when her hawsers and windlass broke in a 

S.W.gale off Lundy and she drifted up Channel. Some of the lifeboatmen were put aboard and she 

was connected to three tugs, the Marquis, Iron Duke and Pilot. Her anchors were recovered and 

she was re-floated and towed to Bristol for repair. 

In November 1865 the Portuguese barque Argo was abandoned by her crew near the Tusker Rocks off 

Porthcawl. The crew survived and the barque was saved by the Porthcawl lifeboat crew.

On 2 January 1866 the barque Jacques, of St.Malo, and the ship Industrie, of Hamburg, came into 

contact in a heavy gale, and the Penarth lifeboat, now renamed from George Gale to Baroness 

Windsor, had to disentangle them.

On 10 January 1866 the Hannah Moore of 1129 tons on a voyage from Chile to Queenstown, Ireland 

was blown off course and took shelter in Lundy Roads. However her sails were torn by the wind 

and she dragged her anchor. The next morning the crew were seen clinging to the rigging. Two 

Bideford men, Thomas Saunders and Samuel Jarmon took a punt out in an attempt to get a line to 

the ship, but in twenty minutes the ship had been lifted onto Rat Island off Lundy and broken 

up. Only six crew managed to keep from being washed overboard from a part of the wreck. These 

were eventually rescued by the punt. The other 19 crew were drowned.

On 23 March 1866 the brig Claudia, of Belfast, went onto Cardiff Sands in a strong gale and 

sprang a leak, which caused her hold to rapidly fill with water, despite the strenuous pumping 

of her crew. Lifeboatmen from the Penarth lifeboat, Baroness Windsor, went aboard to help and 

she was eventually freed her and took her to a safe place on Cardiff East Mudflats. 


On the same day, 23 March 1866, the Whitby brig Vesta foundered in Swansea Bay. The crew of 

seven took to the rigging and were saved by the Mumbles lifeboat (Martha and Anne).

On 29 March 1866 the wooden paddle steamer Queen (Captain Granville Spray) left Ilfracombe at 

10.30 pm. In a thick fog the little paddler struck the Tings Rocks off Hartland Point, Devon. 

However, the master managed to get her off the rocks and made back towards Ilfracombe. She was 

badly holed, though, and was shipping water rapidly, and, as a result, the master ran her 

intentionally onto the beach at Clovelly. The 37 passengers on bord and the crew were ferried 

ashore and over the next two days the cargo was removed. Very soon after the cargo had been 

removed the boat broke her back and was finally wrecked. The captain, who was the son of the 

previous captain, John Spray, was subsequently found guilty of neglecting to measure the depth 

of water near the coast.

On 9 January 1867 the French schooner Jeanne d'Arc parted her cables and split her sails in 

Mumbles Roads in a severe storm and was drifting hopelessly. The Mumbles lifeboat 

(Wolverhampton) was called out and put men on board her to help set new sails, whilst theit 

colleagues brought out a steam tug which towed her to Swansea.

On 14 April 1867 the brig Wellington, of Aberystwyth, was driven ashore in a severe gale. 

Mumbles lifeboat (Wolverhampton) stood by, but she the brig refloated on the rising tide and a 

tug took her to Swansea.

On 17 November 1867 the brig Marie, of Grieffswald, Prussia, was driven up Channel having lost 

her anchor and cables. Being unladen she was driven into very shallow water. Attempts by three 

tugs and two pilot skiffs to get to her failed because they could not get close due to the 

shallowness of the water. After some 10 hours rowing the Penarth lifeboat managed to get under 

her lee and rescue all 11 crew. The lifeboatmen were, by this time, as exhausted as the crew and 

suffering severely from exposure.

On the morning of 28 December 1868 there was a strong gale blowing onshore at Appledore, Devon, 

An Austrian ship Pace, bound from Glasgow to Fiume with pig iron, was seen to be in difficulties 

in Bideford Bay, and the the cox of the Appledore Lifeboat, Joseph Cox, with his son Joseph as 

second cox, called out the rest of the lifeboat crew and, with the lifeboat Hope on a horse 

drawn carriage, the crew followed the movement of the ship across the bay until she grounded on 

the sands. The lifeboat was then launched and with great difficulty due to the huge waves, made 

her way to the grounded vessel, threw a grapnel into the rigging and shouted to the crew. 

However there was no reply. A little later a boy appeared on deck and jumped into the lifeboat, 

and then eight men dashed to the side of the ship and dived into the sea, where they were picked 

up by the lifeboat, although in the process the Hope was dashed against the stern of the Pace, 

trapping the cox. Fortunately his cork lifejacket saved him from death, but the Hope lost her 

rudder. The lifeboatmen continued to shout to the remainder of the ship's crew to abandon ship, 

but they did not know that the crew had been instructed by the captain not to abandon the ship 

nor even to throw a line to the lifeboat, as he believed that she could be refloated on the next 

tide. With the lifeboat rudderless the cox had to give up and try to get back to the shore, 

which he did with severe difficulty. On reaching the shore the cox called for more volunteers to 

go back out with him to try to save the remaining crew. Despite attempts to persuade him 

otherwise he found sufficient men prepared to join him and he and his son and John Kelly from 

the original crew with the new volunteers went out in the lifeboat, still without its rudder, 

Joseph Cox junior steering with an oar. As they got close to the Pace, Joseph Cox junior was 

thrown into the sea and the boat thus lost its steering and capsized, all the crew being thrown 

overboard. However, the boat righted itself and the crew managed to get back aboard but had lost 

all but three oars. Joseph Cox senior was now injured and only semi-conscious, and the lifeboat 

again returned to the shore. The Braunton lifeboatmen had been unable to get their boat across 

the bay but walked to Appledore and would have taken the Hope out again but it was decided that 

it would be too risky and with the tide falling the Pace was unlikely to face further danger. 

Later, when the tide had receded a number of Appledore men waded out to the Pace and rescued the 

three remaining crewmen, two having fallen from the rigging and been killed.
The captain was the last to be rescued.

Meanwhile another ship, the Leopard, returning to Gloucester from the West Indies, was also 

driven aground  in Bideford Bay, near Westward Ho ! Here David Johns, one of the crew of the 

Hope on its first attempt to rescue the crew of the Pace, volunteered to swim out to the 

grounded boat with a line, since it had proved impossible to get a line to the ship by rocket 

from Westward Ho ! This he did and tried three times to board the Leopard, but was finally 

struck on the head by some wreckage and sadly drowned. Another Appledore man subsequently 

managed to get a line to the ship and all the crew were rescued.

The RNLI awarded Joseph Cox senior two clasps to his medal which he had originally been awarded 

in 1801. Both Joseph Cox junior and John Kelly were awarded silver medals, and another 25 men 

also received lesser awards.
Later the Emperor of Austria awarded silver crosses of merit to both Joseph senior and junior 

and to John Kelly.

On 5 December 1869 the Spanish schooner Loretta, bound from Liverpool to Cuba,  was seen 

drifting towards Nash Sands near Porthcawl, having been blown off course. The Porthcawl lifeboat 

(Good Deliverance) went to her aid, initially taking off the master's wife and then the whole 

crew of eleven and the pilot.

In December 1870 the Cardiff Pilot cutter Dasher started to break up after hitting the Tusker 

Rock near Porthcawl in a thick fog. Because of the weather the wreck was not sighted and the 

pilot and his two assistants used the wreckage to build a raft on which they tried to head for 

the shore. Fortunately they were picked up by the Porthcawl Lifeboat (Good Deliverance).

On 1 November 1872 the Magna Charta, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the Norwegian barque Jernbyrd 

collided in a heavy gale in Penarth Roads. The Canadian ship freed herself but the Penarth 

lifeboat,  a new George Gay, was sent to help the Norwegian barque which was holed just below 

the waterline and in danger of sinking. The master of the barque requested the cox of the 

lifeboat to stand by whilst he and his crew tried to patch up the hole. Fortunately she was 

sufficiently repaired by the crew that at dawn of the next day she could be towed by tug to 

Cardiff for repair.

The 8 December 1872 was a very bad day in the Channel. The brig Wallace rolled over completely 

and sunk with all hands; a Nova Scotian barque was driven across the hawse of another ship and 

so badly damaged that she too sank with all hands. The Eleanor, of Quebec, was luckier. Having 

gone aground on Cardiff Sands the Penarth lifeboat, George Gay, managed to get to her, saving 

five crew members, but the mate would not leave the ship. The following day she was still there 

and the lifeboat went out to her again, The mate asked that they bring some of the crew back to 

try to save her, and fortunately they managed to refloat her and get her to Cardiff for repair.
Also on the 8 December 1872, the Weston super Mare cutter Mystery which serviced the forts in 

the area, left Flat Holm with an officer and eleven men in addition to the crew of two, bound 

for the fort at the tip of Brean Down, Somerset. Very shortly a severe gale blew up and the 

small boat had to head for shelter. She got behind Penarth Head but became stranded on the river 

bank. In the process of the stranding she also lost her punt. That evening she refloated, 

dragged her anchor and drifted out into Penarth Roads where she crossed, out of control, astern 

of the schooner John Pearce, of Fowey, and her mast was torn adrift by the schooner's mizzen 

boom. When her mast was lost she also lost some of her deck planking and she began to fill with 

water, to the point where she was close to sinking. The mate of the John Pearce, Richard Johns, 

launched a boat and pulled to the sinking cutter getting a rope aboard her. The crew of the John 

Pearce were then able to use the rope to haul the cutter alongside so that twelve of the 

soldiers and crew aboard her scrambled to safety. Two soldiers, however, fell between the two 

vessels. Richard Johns, without hesitation, got his small boat between the two larger vessels 

and pulled the soldiers from the water. Johns was awarded the RNLI Silver Medal for his bravery. 
 On 29 August 1873 the Prussian barque Triton with a crew of nine, on reaching Lundy Island, 

turned toward the Mumbles to avoid a storm. She was driven onto the Mixon Sands and broke up. 

Against the orders of the master two men and a boy took one of the ship's boats but capsized, 

the two men being drowned whilst luckily the boy was seen drifting by another vessel and was 

saved. Five of the crew  were saved by the paddle tug Digby Grand, and the Mumbles lifeboat 

saved the remaining man. The Cox of the lifeboat, Jenkin Jenkins, was presented with a binocular 

glass by the Emperor of Germany, and the other crew members received cash awards.

February 1877 -  Steamer Ethel wrecked on the Black Rock off Lundy. 19 lost only the mate 


On the evening of 7 March 1877 the new Penarth lifeboat, Joseph Denman, was launched to stand by 

to assist the brig Crocodile, of Dartmouth, which had gone ashore on Cardiff Sands in a gale. 

Fortunately the Crocodile was refloated in the flood tide and sailed on to Cardiff.

On 6 December 1877 the barque Johann, of Sundsvall, Norway, stranded on the Scarweather Sands. A 

pilot boat with five crew went to her assistance, in the Porthcawl lifeboat (Chafyn Grove) and 

with the help of the Swansea to Bristol packet, Velindra, rescued the ship's crew of nine.

On 12 May 1878 the schooner Gipsy belonging to the Waterford Steam Navigation Co. was on a 

voyage from Bristol to Liverpool and Waterford. She was towed down the River Avon by the tug Sea 

King but shortly after passing under Clifton Suspension Bridge she struck rocks and mud on the 

Bristol bank. She listed over and blocked the river. Tugs tried to move her but failed. A steam 

driven fire engine was then brought by barge to pump the water out of her so that the cargo 

could be removed, but she broke in two. The crew remained on board and removed the cargo as they 

were in no real danger. The only passenger had left the ship safely shortly after she had gone 

aground. It was not until 17 May that a channel could be opened sufficiently for ship movements 

in the river Avon. Eventually some weeks later the remains of the Gipsy were finally dynamited 

and the river fully re-opened.

On 8 January 1879 the barque Sarah Ann bound for Montevideo foundered in Swansea Bay. Ten men 

were saved by the Mumbles lifeboat (Wolverhampton).

On 27 August 1879 the Caernarvon brig Queen of Britain was in difficulties near the mouth of the 

River Neath. The Mumbles lifeboat (Wolverhampton) saved all six crew.
On 10 February 1880 the US barque Corea, of Boston, became stranded on the Green Grounds near 

Swansea, losing her keel and dragging her anchors. Her boats were lowered but these were smashed 

by the heavy seas. The Mumbles lifeboat took off her crew and a tug subsequently got her to 


On 1 December 1880 the schooner Pet, of Falmouth, went ashore on the harbour bar at Port Talbot, 

The Mumbles lifeboat took off the crew of five who had climbed the rigging to keep clear of the 

sea. The schooner became a total loss soon after.

During severe gales on the 21st and 22nd of January 1881 twenty ships were ashore between 

Lavernock Point and West Cardiff Flats. Three were large full rigged ships, the Etta, of 

Liverpool, the Buckinghamshire, of London, and the Mirella, of London; three were French brigs 

or schooners, the Alexandrea, the Amiral and the Cecile; the remainder were smaller coastal 


On 9 March 1881 the smack Bristol Packet, of Newport, was stranded off Penarth but was 


On 12 April 1881 the Danish barque Marmora was wrecked on the Scarweather Sands off Porthcawl. 

Eight men were saved by the Porthcawl Lifeboat (Chafyn Grove).

On 14 October 1881 the Genoese barque Febo was driven up Channel by a gale, reaching Penarth 

Roads in a very poor state, with her fore and main masts broken off near the deck and having 

lost her anchors. The Penarth lifeboat, Joseph Denman, was launched and put some men on her to 

rig some temporary sails on a jury mast. She was taken in tow by a steam tug, and she and her 

crew of 14 were taken to safety.

On 29 March 1882 the French steamer Liban sank on the Tusker Sands off Porthcawl. Eight of the 

crew were saved by the Porthcawl Lifeboat - three lost.

1883 - the Fanny of Aberthaw was wrecked off Barry. She had been sailing the Channel for 130 

years since she was built at Aberthaw.
On 27 January 1883 the German barque Amiral Prinz Adalbert (Captain Ludwig Leibaner), on her way 

from Danzig to Swansea with pitprops was struggling against a storm on the coast of the Gower 

Peninsular. She had already lost part of her rigging and her crew were near exhaustion.  A pilot 

was requested to take her into Swansea but no pilot cutter was prepared to risk the storm to get 

to her. Instead, the Flying Scud, a tug, which was close by offered to take her in for a fee of 

500. However, during the tow towards Swansea the cable parted on two occasions and finally the 

master ordered the anchors to be dropped. One anchor failed to reach the seabed, the other held 

for a short while and then dragged, the ship drifting towards the shore, eventually hitting the 

rocks near Mumbles Lighthouse and In the collision the ship lost all three masts.  Meanwhile the 

tug had gone to advise the Mumbles Lifeboat (Wolverhampton) crew of the disaster. Cox Jenkin 

Jenkins, although advised not to put to sea, decided to go to the assistance of the barque, and 

with great difficulty the lifeboat was launched and proceeded to the stricken vessel. Although 

the lifeboat crew could not get close enough to throw a line to the ship, someone on board the 

barque had the presence of mind to throw down a lifebelt with a line attached and a line was 

eventually secured, the lifeboat put down her anchor, and the first two of the ship's crew of 15 

managed to get to the lifeboat. As the third crewman was being pulled aboard the lifeboat was 

suddenly hit by a huge wave and overturned, throwing the crew into the sea. The boat righted 

itself and the crew managed to get back aboard, only for the boat to be flung over some 

submerged rocks. The crew of the lifeboat now tried to swim to the shore, but four were drowned 

plus the barque's carpenter who had been taken off by the lifeboat. The survivors were all 

severely injured by the time they got to the shore, and the cox's son George Jenkins had both 

his legs crushed. 

Two lifeboatmen were seen clinging to the wrecked lifeboat. At this time two sisters, Jessie Ace 

and Mrs Margaret Evans, who had been with their father, Abraham Ace, in the Mumbles lighthouse, 

came down to the shore to see if they could help, and waded out into the heavy sea up to their 

shoulders to try to get to the surviving lifeboatmen. Although they could not quite reach. 

Jessie Ace knotted their shawls together and with the help of a gunner from the nearby fort they 

used the shawls as a lifeline and pulled the two men to relative safety. Meanwhile the Amiral 

Prinz Adalbert had survived the waves without breaking up and when the tide ebbed Abraham Ace 

and his two daughters helped the crew to safety where they were looked after by the people of 

Mumbles. Subsequently the barque did break up.

Four lifeboatmen had died leaving widows and children; the cox had lost two of his sons, James 

and William,  and his son-in-law, who were members of the crew, and another man was missing and 

his body was never recovered.  A fund for the widows and orphans raised 3000, Jenkin Jenkins 

was awarded the RNLI silver medal and 50, the gunner (Hutchings) who had helped the Ace sisters 

received the thanks of the RNLI on vellum, but the two sisters received no recognition from the 

RNLI, although they did receive great aclaim in the national  press and postcards were sold with 

their pictures on them. It is said that Queen Victoria had copies of these cards. The Empress of 

Germany sent them the Ace sisters the thanks of the country and gave them two silver brooches. 

The poem "The Women of Mumbles Head !" was written by Clement Scott to commemorate their brave 

At midnight on 8 August 1883 the barque William Miles stranded near Porthcawl harbour and on the 

next day broke up and sank. The Porthcawl Lifeboat (Chafyn Grove) went out twice in heavy seas 

rescuing the master's wife and one other on the first trip and the master and the remaining ten 

crew on the second.

The Welsh Prince (Captain William Rowe), 118 ton steamer, left Bristol on 22 September 1884 with 

42 passengers for a pleasure trip to Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. The daytrippers were to be 

back aboard the boat by 6pm on the same day and she was in the process of casting off, under the 

eyes of a large number of holidaymakers, when the last mooring rope wound itself around the 

propellor and in a heavy wind the small vessel was driven into Sandy Bay where the crew tried in 

vain to free her propellor. Captain Rowe dropped anchor as the boat was quite near the shore and 

raised distress signals. This brought out the lifeboatmen and the William James Holt, the Weston 

Lifeboat, was launched from the pier. Whilst the lifeboat was in the process of being launched 

the Welsh Prince began dragging her anchors and frightened passengers had to be restrained from 

"jumping for it" into the sea. Within 15 minutes the lifeboat had reached the vessel and 20 

passengers were taken off, not without some difficulty, followed by a return journey by the 

lifeboat to take off the remaining passengers. All passengers were saved without injury.  The 

actions of the Lifeboat crew were widely acclaimed and it was reported that "A great tragedy had 

been averted by the speed and bravery of their actions"
This was the first real-life action which the Weston lifeboat had been involved in, the station 

having only been established two years previously by the gift of Colonel Holt of Bangor, after 

whom she was named.
As for the Welsh Prince, she was left stranded on the sands when the tide went out, the rope was 

removed from the propellor, and she was refloated on the next tide with little damage and went 

on plying the Channel as a passenger boat and later as a collier until 1930

On 27 January 1884 the Spanish brigantine Juan de la Vega, bound for Cardiff with pit props, got 

into difficulties off Penarth. With the aid of a tug, some hobblers and lifeboatmen from the 

Penarth lifeboat (Joseph Denman II) in repairing the rigging and pumping, she was taken into 


On 8 October 1886 the steamship Agnes, of Hartlepool, was driven ashore in Caswell Bay near 

Swansea and broke up. No lives were lost however.
On 14 October 1886 the iron sailing ship Malleny, of Liverpool, left Cardiff for Rio de Janiero 

with coal. She was towed as far as Lundy Island but after the tug had left the weather worsened 

and the captain decided to shelter in Swansea Bay. However as she sailed in heavy seas across 

the bay her rudder was lost and she drifted towards the coast. Although she was sighted in the 

bay the high winds had taken down the telegraph lines and it was impossible to alert the 

Porthcawl Lifeboat. She struck the Tusker Rock off Porthcawl and all 20 crew were lost, the ship 

finally going ashore across the Channel at Westward Ho !
Edwin Waters, the ships carpenter on the Malleny, had been paid off in Amsterdam, unknown to his 

family in Appledore and, thinking he had gone down with the others,  were in mourning for him 

when he arrived home !


On 15 October 1886 the Swansea barque Ocean Beauty bound for Valparaiso took shelter in Mumbles 

Roads in the severe storms of that day. Her cables parted, however, and she drifted across 

Swansea Bay onto Aberavon Sands. The Mumbles lifeboat (Wolverhampton II)  was launched, but 

could not get close enough. The crew took to the rigging and fortunately when the tide receded 

without the ship breaking up. One of the crew threw an empty oil drum overboard with a line 

attached. This floated toward the shore sufficiently for some pilots on the beach to haul it in, 

and 13 crew members were able to pull themselves to safety hand over hand. Unfotunately the 

master and the pilot aboard the barque were drowned when they were washed overboard.

On 15 October 1886 the Ben-y-Gloe (Captain Gill), a large ship sailing from Singapore to 

Penarth, heeled over in a gale near Nash Point and subsequently grounded on Nash Sands. The crew 

had managed to survive by clinging to the rigging and got onto the sands and eventually to the 

shore. They were in a very poor condition having lost much of their clothing, ripped off by the 

gale. They struggled inland to the village of Marcross and knocked on the door of the Inn where 

the Innkeeper refused to give them any food or drink because they had no money, although he did 

let them rest in an unheated storeroom ! When Captain Gill arrived at the Inn some time after 

his crew he ordered the Innkeeper to serve his men and grudgingly and only after assurance that 

payment would eventually be made they were served with food and drinks. Meanwhile the robbers 

had been at work on the remains of the ship and the crew's belongings had been stolen. Few of 

the missing items were ever recovered by the police. The South Wales newspapers said that the 

actions of the Innkeeper and the looters had "besmirched the reputation and honour of all Welsh 



On 16 January 1887 the Italian barque Caterina, was wrecked in a Force 9 gale on Nash Sands off 

Porthcawl, after leaving Cardiff with coal. Her crew of twelve and the pilot were all lost.

On 26 January 1887 the Ribble of Whitehaven was in collision with the Coniston Fell of 

Liverpool, off Mumbles Head. The Coniston Fell beached , but the Ribble sunk so that only her 

mast was above water. Fortunately the Captain and three crew were able to cling to the rigging 

and were saved by the Mumbles Lifeboat, Wolverhampton II. Two men from the Ribble drowned when 

the boat they had launched from her was swamped. One of those in the boat was saved by a shore 


March 1887 - SS City of Exeter lost off Lundy. 16 lost out of total crew of 19.

On 13 January 1888 the Hull steamship Milan on its way to Bristol from Alexandria was driven 

ashore near Overton Cliffs in the Gower in dense fog. She soon began to break up on the rocks. 

The Port Eynon Lifeboat rescued 11 men and the remaining crew were rescued by the use of the 

Coastguard Rocket Apparatus.

On 23 January 1890 the square-rigger Cambrian Duchess of Liverpool on a voyage from Liverpool to 

Iquique, Chile, was beaten back by heavy weather and sought refuge in Mumbles Roads. She dropped 

anchor but it dragged in soft ground and she drifted into the Swansea owned (Aberdeen 

registered) barque Ambassador, causing severe damage to both ships. The Cambrian Duchess was 

towed to Swansea by a tug but drove into the dock wall. Four lifeboatmen from Swansea were put 

aboard the Ambassador to help to get her into Swansea. However on arrival she was declared  to 

be beyonf economic repair. The Cambrian Duchess was repaired and sailed on but later sunk in the 

South Atlantic.

On 26 January 1890 the barque Ashlowe of New Brunswick went aground when her cable parted off 

Mumbles Head but subsequently refloated, only to run aground again near the Lifeboat Station. 

Her master decided to abandon ship and the crew of eleven were taken off by the Mumbles 


In December 1890 the Uppingham, on a voyage from Cardiff to China, struck rocks at Long Peak 

near Hartland Point, Devon, and 18 of the 28 crew died.

On 10 December 1891 the large four master Drumblair left Barry for Mauritius with a cargo of 

coke and railway materials, but because of a severe gale, waited in Barry Roads. The severity of 

the gale, however, caused her to drag her anchors and landed up stranded on Sully Island. A 

steam tug tried to connect with her but was unsuccessful and eventually towed the Penarth 

lifeboat (Joseph Denman II) to Sully. Some of the ship's crew had been able to get off in the 

ship's boat but the remaining 15 and the captain were taken off by the lifeboat. The ship did 

survive, however, and was salved.

February 1892 - French ship Tunisie went ashore on Lundy in severe gale, snow storm and heavy 

seas. The Lighthouse keeper and seven others saved all 21 crew. 


On 13 December 1893 the Norwegian barque Althea went aground in Oxwich Bay. Gower, in a severe 

gale. The weather was so bad that when the Port Eynon Lifeboat was launched she was immediately 

driven broadside onto the beach. People on shore, however, managed to manhandle her so that her 

bow was facing out to sea and then pushed her out, assisting the oarsmen to get her to sea 

again. It then took an hour and a half to reach Oxwich Bay, by which time the Althea was a total 

wreck, all her crew of 10 being crowded into one ship's boat. They all managed to get aboard the 

lifeboat and were saved.

On 22 March 1894 the schooner Glenravil Miner of Barrow became stranded at Overton, Gower. Her 

crew of three took to the ship's boat and were picked up by a passing schooner and subsequently 

transferred to the Port Eynon Lifeboat. The Glenravil Miner then sunk becoming a total wreck. 

2 October 1895 - Llanisley, schooner, foundered in a storm off Lundy. Crew of four took to the 

ship's boat and made for Ilfracombe but the boat capsized and all were lost.


On 2 February 1897 the master of the Hull steamship Imbros lost his bearings in dense fog and 

the ship became grounded near the East Helwick Buoy. Her hull became twisted and her engines 

damaged. The Port Eynon Lifeboat went to assess the situation and called for tugs to tow her 

into port.  However the tide lifted the ship over the bank and she was able to anchor, a passing 

coastal steamer then took her in tow and, accompanied by the lifeboat, the Imbros was beached at 


On 7 April 1897 in a moderate wind the schooner James and Agnes, of Lancaster, beached at Black 

Rock Bay near Porthcawl, having already bumped over the Scarweather Sands and done considerable 

damage. Three of the crew escaped in the ship's boat but the Porthcawl lifeboat (Speedwell) went 

to the rescue of the master and mate who had remained aboard.

In December 1898 the tug Saxon stranded on Frenchman's Bank off Swansea when a cable got caught 

in her propeller. The crew were taken off by the Mumbles Lifeboat.

On the evening of 12 January 1899 the Rev Hockley, secretary of the Lynmouth Lifeboat (Louisa), 

received a telegram from the owner of the Anchor Hotel at Porlock, Somerset, reporting that 

there was a large sailing vessel in the bay that seemed to be in difficulties. There was a very 

savage storm underway, with very heavy seas lashing the coast. The Lynmouth cox, Jack Crocombe, 

and his crew decided that they could not launch from Lynmouth and would have to take the 

lifeboat to Porlock, a distance of 12 miles over very difficult terrain, to launch it. Anyone 

knowing Lynmouth and Porlock would realise that this was going to entail hauling the boat up the 

very steep hill out of Lynmouth, along the cliffs, and then down the one in four gradient into 

Porlock ! The weight of the boat was around three and a half tons ! and the weather conditions 

were terrible. Sixteen horses were provided to pull the carriage and men had to go out ahead to 

dig out the banks on the roadside to enable the carriage to pass. The journey started at about 

8pm and most of the residents of Lynmouth joined in helping to get the boat on its carriage up 

Lynmouth Hill. At the top of the hill one of the carriage wheels came off and had to be 

replaced. The weather was now so bad that most of the helpers, other than the crew, turned back 

once the hill top had been reached. Further along they had to remove a section of stone wall 

which was hindering the passage of the carriage. At County Gates the boat had to be removed from 

the carriage and placed on skids as the carriage was too wide to go through the lane, whilst the 

carriage was taken across fields to meet the lifeboat further on. From there the men needed all 

their remaining strength to hold back the carriage descending Porlock Hill. On arrival at 

Porlock they found that the sea wall had been washed away and they had to take a detour to get 

to the beach. They finally reached the sea at about 6am on the 13 January. Refusing to stop to 

eat they immediately set about launching the boat. The 8 oared lifeboat was then rowed into the 

gale to reach the struggling Forrest Hall (Captain James Aliss) , a 1900 ton Liverpool barque on 

its way from Belfast home. She had been under tow but the line had parted and the rudder had 

been taken off in the storm. She had dropped anchor in the hope of riding out the storm but had 

sent out distress signals as a precaution. The Captain was advised by the Lifeboat cox to wait 

until daylight when it was hoped to get a line to the ship. At dawn the tug John Joliffe from 

Liverpool arrived. The lifeboat crew got a line from the tug on board the Forrest Hall and the 

tug started for Barry Docks, with the Lifeboat in attendance in case it was needed. The Forrest 

Hall began to drift towards Nash Sands but fortunately another Liverpool tug, the Sarah Joliffe, 

was at hand and the two tugs took her into Barry at 6pm on 13 January. The Lifeboat also landed 

at Barry where they were royally received at a hotel and tended by the Shipwrecked Mariners 

Society. The following day the Lifeboat returned to Lynmouth.  
In 1900 the Welbury from Cardiff struck the rocks at Long Peak near Hartland, Devon. The second 

officer had been one of the survivors from the wreck of the Uppingham on the same rocks in 1890.


On 28 December 1900 the Italian barque Zefiro collided with the ship King's County, of Windsor, 

Nova Scotia, near the English and Welsh Grounds lightvessel. She eventually went ashore near 

Clevedon, Somerset.
On the same day the Pegasus, of Liverpool, bound from San Francisco to Sharpness, Glos., was 

driven ashore near Lavernock Point and four of her crew were washed overboard. She was refoated 

on the next tide and was taken on to Sharpness for repair.

On 2 February 1901 the schooner Goonlaze (Captain Thomas Haddock), of Hayle, Cornwall, left Bristol. She is thought to 

have tried to shelter from the weather in Barnstaple Bay,
 But was presumably driven onto the rocks. The wreck was not discovered until some days later 

when, as a result of finding the body of a seaman in a field near Peppercombe, the Coastguards 

made a search of the area and found the wreckage under the cliffs. Three bodies were eventually 


On 7 November 1901 in a thick fog the Norwegian full-rigged ship Elfi became stranded near Nash 

Point. The Porthcawl lifeboat went out to her but she was found not to be seriously damaged. A 

lifeboatman was put aboard as a pilot and the lifeboat stood by until a tug arrived and towed 

her to Bristol.

On 1 February 1903 the Mumbles Lifeboat, James Stevens No 12, went the assistance of the 

steamship Christina of Waterford. However, as she was in no danger the lifeboat made for Port 

Talbot. The conditions at the bar to the River Avan were rough and the lifeboat was capsized by 

a huge wave. She righted herself immediately but was then hit again and went out of control. Six 

of her crew were washed away and she was thrown into the breakwater. The Dock Gateman at Port 

Talbot called for help Captain Humphrey Jones, the Harbour Master, and seven other men rushed to 

her. Captain Jones saved one man and was then lowered down the side of the breakwater on a rope. 

As he was about to save another man a wave washed them both away and he lost his grip on the 

rope.  The six lifeboatmen lost were, Cox Thomas Rogers, 2nd Cox Daniel Claypit, Robert Smith, 

George Michael, David John Morgan and James Gammon. Eight lifeboatmen managed to escape the 

disaster, including Thomas Michael and three of the Gammon family. The lost lifeboatmen left 38 

children fatherless and a fund was started for their dependants.

On 10 February 1905 the French Ketch, Notre Dame de Paris  was reported in distress off Oxwich 

Point, Gower, and the Mumbles Lifeboat, Charlie Medland, went to her aid. She was found to have 

shipped a lot of water and her sails had been blown away. Her crew were exhausted and her master 

asked for men to board her and try to save her. After three quarters of an hour four lifeboat 

men got aboard and managed to free her anchors which had been fouled by an underwater 

obstruction, and a tug was able to tow her to Swansea.

On 30 May 1906 HMS Montagu, a Hunter Class Battleship (14000 tons) struck Great Shutter Rock off 

Lundy in a thick fog. She was badly holed and listing to starboard and had lost her propellors. 

The Admiralty immediately sent four battleships and a cruiser and two Liverpool salvage tugs to 

try to save the ship. Work started on removing equipment in order to lighten the ship in the 

hope of re-floating her. However this was to little avail and by August she was still stuck and 

was finally written off as a total wreck. In 1907 she was sold for salvage but it took a further 

15 years to remove her completely during which she was a regularly visited attraction for the 

pleasure steamers of the Bristol Channel.
The Captain and Navigating Officer of the Montagu were court marshalled and severely reprimanded 

and dismissed their vessel.


On 16 June 1907 the small Penarth yacht Firefly was sailing off Lavernock Point when she 

capsized and threw her three crew into the water. A man on shore saw what happened and 

telephoned to Penarth for assistance. He then cycled to Sully House where a well known local 

yachtsman Daniel Rees lived. Rees put out immediately in a six foot dinghy in a moderate gale. 

He managed to get to the men who had gone overboard and got two of them aboard. He could not 

take on the third man because that would have sunk his dinghy, so he had to be left clinging to 

the gunwale of the yacht. Meanwhile Daniel Rees' brother Ivor and nephew Morgan ran to the beach 

to try to find another boat. The only one they could find was a small sailing yacht moored 

off-shore so Ivor Rees swam out to her whilst Morgan Rees ran back to the house to get some 

sails. They managed to rig the sails and sailed the four miles to the upturned yacht where they 

rescued the third man of the crew. Daniel Rees was awarded the gold medal of the RNLI, Ivor Rees 

the silver medal and Morgan Rees the RNLI Record of Thanks inscribed on vellum (as the bronze 

medal had not then been instituted)

On 26 December 1907 the Captain's wife and crew of five of the Cardigan schooner John Ewing were 

brought ashore by the Mumbles Lifeboat after the schooner's cargo had shifted . The next day the 

weather was calmer and the schooner was towed into Swansea.

At 9pm on 29 August 1908 the Verajean (Captain Ritchie) , built Dumbarton, Scotland, 1891 (1933 

tons, 3 masted all-steel sailing ship) carrying 3000 tons of patent fuel for Chile left the 

Roath Dock, Cardiff in charge of the tugs Lady Morgan and Salvor. The  weather had not been good 

when the ship left the dock, but the wind now increased to force 8 to 9 and the Captain decided 

to wait in Barry Roads until morning. The following morning the ship set off down the Bristol 

Channel still in charge of the two tugs. It took until the following day to reach Lundy Island 

where the tugs left her. (There was later a dispute about whether the tugs should have left her 

at Lundy). Because the weather was worsening the Captain decided to make back up Channel to 

Barry Roads. The ship got to the entrance to the Roads but the depth of water was misjudged and 

the anchors which were dropped with the expectation of hitting the seabed did not do so and the 

ship was left at the mercy of the storm which continued to worsen. The Captain then gave the 

order to abandon ship and within minutes of the crew leaving the ship she hit the rocks at 

Rhoose Point and settled about 200 yards off the coast. The Captain and all crew were saved. The 

storm which had caused the ship to be abandoned was "The Great Hurricane of 1908" which caused 

severe damage all along the South Wales coast. The Verajean was eventually towed to Barry Docks 

but was so badly damaged that she was scrapped.

There was a Board of Trade Enquiry in November 1908 which exonerated the Captain and the two tug 


The Amazon (Captain Garrack) left Port Talbot with coal for Chile on 31 August 1908 accompanied 

by two tugs in a heavy storm (The Great Hurricane of 1908). She made it to Mumbles Head where 

the Master decided to anchor in the Outer Roads but the following morning at 8am she was driven 

ashore on Margam Sands. The ship's boat was destroyed as it was being launched, the masts 

collapsed. Six of the crew made it to the shore and the Mate and one seaman were still alive 

aboard the ship when the rescue boat managed to get to her. 20 were lost including the Master. 

The Amazon Public House in Port Talbot is named after the ship.

On the 31 August 1908 the ketch Trebiskin, of Padstow, Cornwall, became stranded on Cardiff 

Grounds and the Barry lifeboat (John Wesley) was launched but a change in the wind allowed the 

three man crew of the Trebiskin to refloat her.

On 1 September 1908 the Helwick Lightship, which marked the dangerous sands west of Port Eynon 

Head near Swansea, was severely damaged by a storm and close to sinking. The passing ship 

Lawrenny Castle saw her distress signals and on arrival at Swansea a report was telegraphed to 

the Tenby Lifeboat which was more likely than the Mumbles boat to be able to assist. The Tenby 

Lifeboat (William and Mary Devey) put out to try to rescue the lightship crew, which in severe 

conditions they managed to do. They then rowed to Swansea despite the fact that the crew were 

near exhaustion and some suffering from exposure after seven hours at sea in terrible 


On 1 September 1908 the Amazon of Greenock, a four master, on a voyage from Port Talbot to 

Iquique, Chile, with a cargo of coal, was driven eight miles across Swansea Bay when her anchors 

dragged and her cables parted in severe weather, and she eventually became stranded west of Port 

Talbot. The crew lashed themselves to the bulwarks and to the masts, but three of the masts were 

lost, and then the Main mast broke free too with 20 men lashed to it. Only six of these 20 men 

survived, and that by the bravery of some local men who waded into the water and pulled them 

ashore. Eventually, after many, many attempts, a line was got aboard by means of the Coastguard 

Rocket Apparatus, and two men who remained on board were saved. In all 20 crew members were 

drowned including Captain Garrick of Penarth. The wreck subsequently broke up.

In December 1911 the German steamship Amisia went ashore near Sully Island but the crew were 

able to walk ashore at low water. 

In February 1912 the Greek ship Vasilefs Georgios, was run into in Barry Roads, by the Cardiff 

steamer Kildonan. The Barry lifeboat stoodby until she was taken in tow by tugs.

On 26 December 1912 the schooner Alice, of Dunkirk, on her way into Swansea to avoid a storm, 

grounded near the East Pier. A steam pilot cutter, Beaufort, took her in tow but the rope parted 

and left the schooner drifting. The Mumbles Lifeboat took off two crew but the Beaufort managed 

to get another line aboard and towed her into Port.

On 30 December 1912 the Vigilant went ashore on Breaksea Point. The Barry lifeboat went to her 

assistance but could not get near enough. Four of the ship's crew were hauled through the sea on 

ropes to safety but the captain and two others stayed aboard. Fortunately the ship held together 

and those on board were able to walk ashore at low tide.

On 13 February 1913 the Austrian steamship Epidauro stranded at the foot of Overton Cliffs, 

Gower. The Port Eynon Lifeboat was launched when the Chief Officer and three men of the Epidauro 

in the ship's boat arrived at Port Eynon and reported the stranding. Charles Bevan, the lifeboat 

secretary and the bowman arrived too late to go out with the crew so they walked to Overton 

Creek to see if they could be of help. There they found a second boat from the Epidauro with two 

men aboard. The two lifeboatmen joined the crew on this boat and they went out to the ship. As 

the men from the boat were climbing aboard the Epidauro  the boat was struck by a wave and 

capsized throwing three men into the sea. Fortunately by this time the lifeboat had arrived and 

saved them. When the tide receded the Epidauro was left high and dry and the crew were able to 

walk ashore. However the ship became a total wreck.

On 15 February 1913 the Manchester steamer Bluebell foundered on the rocks at Culver's Hole in 

the Gower, and broke up. The crew were taken off by the Port Eynon Lifeboat.

On 22 February 1914 an assistant pilot and an apprentice, cruising in the cutter Dawn, saw the 

ketch Elizabeth Couch, of Barnstaple, in severe distress, with her sails torn. The weather was 

too severe for them to get alongside her so they waited for the storm to subside. Eventually, 

however, they could see that the ketch was close to sinking so they made a daring effort to save 

the crew. Apprentice Daniel P Davies left the cutter in its punt and pulled for the ketch, 

whilst assistant pilot William Hooper kept the cutter as close as possible to the ketch, 

creating shelter for the punt. The two crew got into the punt and were successfully rescued. 

Daniel Davies was awarded the RNLI Silver Medal and William Hooper the formal Thanks on Vellum.

On 4 February 1915 the Fowey schooner I'll Away burnt flares to signal her distress off Swansea 

and the Mumbles Lifeboat went out to find her dragging her anchor and labouring heavily in the 

storm. The crew of three were saved and the schooner was eventually salvaged.

On 5 March 1915 the Steamship Dongola, of Glasgow, went ashore in Porthkerry Bay. Two patrol 

ships took off the passengers and the ship was subsequently refloated, the Barry lifeboat being 

in attendance in case of need.

On 1 January 1916 after standing by the Glasgow steamer Dunvegan which had gone ashore at 

Oxwich, Gower, the Port Eynon Lifeboat, Janet, returning to port, was struck by heavy seas and 

capsized twice. Most of the lifeboat men were thrown into the sea but clung to lifelines and 

managed to get back aboard. However the Cox William Gibbs, 2nd Cox William Eynon and lifeboatman 

George Harry were found to be missing. Although the lifeboat searched for the missing men they 

were not found. William Gibbs was a bachelor but a fund was raised for the dependants of the 

other two men, and a memorial was built at Port Eynon Church.  The loss of the three men 

resulted in a decision to close the Port Eynon Lifeboat station.

On 2 November 1918 the Belfast steamer Devonshire was driven ashore East of Swansea in a severe 

gale. Because most able-bodied men were in the Services due to the War, a scratch crew 

consisting of veterans manned the Mumbles Lifeboat, and they saved the 13 crew of the steamer.  

On 19 April 1919 in a heavy fog, the Royal Mail Lines steamer Tyne cut in two the French 

schooner Fleur de Mare, off Swansea. The French crew of five managed to get into their boat and 

were eventually picked up by the Tyne which had been searching for them in the fog. However, the 

Tyne got off course whilst undetaking the search and she eventually ran onto the rocks at 

Langland Bay. Fortunately the crew of 50 were able to walk ashore and the Tyne was subsequently 

refloated and taken into Swansea for repair.

On 9 May 1920 the 4,000 ton Merkur, a German prize which had been allocated to Finland, leaving 

Barry w ith a cargo of coal, was in collision in Barry Roads, with the Spanish steamer Castro 

Alen from Bilbao. The Merkur immediately foundered and her crew were taken off by a pilot 

cutter. The Castro Alen was able to reach Newport. Salvage operations on the Merkur took some 

four months to reach a point where she could be raised from the sea bed, but on 19 September 

1920 a thick fog prevented operations. Unfortunately, in the fog, the British steamer Zelo, on 

passage from Bilbao with iron ore, collided with the fo'csle head of the Merkur, tore a hole in 

her bottom, and sank alongside the remains of the Merkur. Salvage was then abandoned and the 

Merkur Buoy still marks the wreckage.

On 22 January 1922 the Exeter City, of Bristol, and the London, of Dundee, fouled one another 

whilst at anchor sustaining considerable damage in high seas, whilst the Sea Serpent, of Dover, 

was in danger of also becoming entangled. The Barry lifeboat (John Wesley) stood by whilst a 

pilot cutter went to get tugs which eventually removed the vessels from danger.

In April 1923 the Barry lifeboat (the new Prince David) was called out to search for the boat 

from the ship Dunmail with eight men aboard. It was subsequently found that the men had been 

picked up by the steamship Thamesmead.

In September 1923 the yacht Dancingway with five men and two women aboard got a rope foul of her 

propeller and drifted close to the Gore Sands in Bridgwater Bay. The crew were saved by the 

Barry lifeboat.

In July 1926 - The paddle steamer Cambria went aground at Hele Bay near Ilfracombe in thick fog. 

All 500 passengers were rescued by the Ilfracombe Lifeboat (the Richard Crowley). The Cambria 

was successfully refloated on the next tide.

In August 1926 the Italian Steamer Valesia (6000 tons) was nearing Barry on a voyage from 

America with a cargo of coal (the South Wales Coalfield was on strike). There was a thick fog in 

the Bristol Channel and the ship came too close to Barry Island and grounded near Friars Point. 

The following morning the holidaymakers at Barry Island could see the remarkable sight of a 

large ship aground quite close to the beach. The crew had been able to get ashore without 

injury, but later the ship broke her back and started to fall apart. The cargo was gradually 

removed (not all officially - there was a coal strike on !).
It took two months before the salvage company could finally remove the remains of the Valesia 

from the Island.

On 25 January 1929 the Lily (Captain Tom Berridge), a 33 ton Severn Trow, left Newport, Mon. 

with 30 tons of coal for Wick St.Lawrence, Somerset. The vessel quickly sprung a leak, but 

because of the tide the boat could not return to Newport so the Captain and his one crew member, 

Jack Hunter, manned the pumps continuously in the hope that they would make it to the Somerset 

coast before the boat sunk ! Unfortunately they were unable to prevent the boat continuing to 

ship water and eventually the helm was affected leaving the boat unsteerable. As a result they 

were carried along on the tide, luckily missing the rocks off Flat Holm, and arrived in the 

Barry Roads, only to find the tide turning and carrying them back towards Newport. It was 

decided to drop anchor and hope that they would be seen by a passing ship. They then 

concentrated their efforts on pumping, but Captain Berridge (then near 68 years old) collapsed. 

He was revived by Jack Hunter but the boat was slowly sinking, when by chance a Newport Pilot 

Cutter, the Nancy, saw them and attempted to tow them to Port, but the Lily broke up under the 

strain of the tow line, and the two crew members swam to the Nancy. 
March 1929 - Greek steamship Maria Kyriakides went aground near Lundy but all 18 crew were saved 

and the ship was re-floated 18 months later.
On 1 November 1929 in a thick fog seven vessels became stranded in the River Avon, the four 

major ones were the Bristol City, the Sappho, the Peursam and the New York City. Fortunately no 

lives were lost from any of the ships concerned.

On 26 March 1934 two Greek steamships, the Doris and the Tsiropinas were in collision off the 

Breaksea  Light. The Tsiropinas was badly holed above and below the water line. The Barry 

lifeboat went to the scene and the cox advised that the she should be beached as soon as 

possible. The Bristol steam pilot cutter Queen Mother, also in attendance, put a pilot and some 

apprentices aboard and took the Tsiropinas to Whitmore Bay, Barry, where she was beached on the 

level sands. At low tide a temporary repair was affected and she was able to be towed to Barry 

Dock for permanent repair.
On October 21st 1934 the MV Actuosity went ashore at Colhugh Point between Aberthaw and Llantwit 

Major. Her engine room and fore hold were flooded. With the fall of the tide, however, she was 

refloated and a massive salvage operation began, which lasted until December of that year.
On 8 April 1935 the Belgian ship Suzan went ashore at Breaksea Point near Barry. Fortunately she 

was pulled clear by the tugs Eagle and Wardleys.

On 17 September 1935 the French schooner Goeland was driven across Swansea Bay on a voyage from 

Roscoff to Swansea and the Master (Captain Yves Kerbel) decided to try to make port at Cardiff 

rather than turn into the storm and head for Swansea. Unfortunately the ship took a severe 

battering which broke the boom, smashed the stearing wheel and injured the captain.  He tried to 

steer to the beach at Porthkerry but was unable to do so and was being propelled before the 

gale. His distress signals were seen by a farmer at Rhoose and the Coastguard sent a message to 

the Barry Lifeboat (Prince David). The Barry cox was not at home but Mr Archibald.C.Jones a 

retired dock pilot and secretary of the Lifeboat Station obtained a crew and took the lifeboat 

out himself. He headed to Friars Point off Barry Island for which the Goeland
Was now heading before the wind in a terrible state, with no masts or rigging and almost on her 

beam ends. One of the crew of the Goeland had already gone into the water trying to escape 

falling debris and the lifeboat had to pick him up first. She then managed to get alongside the 

ship and the captain and the remaining crew of four including a boy of 12 and one of 14, slid 

down the side of the ship into the lifeboat.  The lifeboat crew, Henry Hobbs, Hewitt Swarts, 

Stanley Alexander, Thomas Alexander, William Cook, Henry Housdon and Frederick Searle, were all 

awarded bronze medals by the RNLI. The acting cox Mr A.C.Jones receiving a silver medal. The 

French government also awarded Mr Jones and the lifeboat crew as well as Mr Jenkin Lougher the 

Rhoose farmer who initially raised the alarm, the medailles de sauvetage..

On 15 January 1938 the 4,345 ton Greek vessel George J Goulandris with a crew of 28, having left 

Cardiff in ballast for Spain, became out of control when something went wrong with her engines 

during a severe gale off Lynmouth Foreland, Devon. She was driven across the Channel toward Nash 

Point. She radiod an SOS and the Barry lifeboat (Rachel and Mary Evans) was sent to her 

assistance. The ship was by this time off Breaksea Point and broadside to the waves. The 

lifeboat made three attempts to get a rope aboard in an effort to pull the ship round to face in 

the direction of Barry, and at the third attempt, was successful. The lifeboat then commenced 

the task of towing the ship to Barry. This difficult task was, fortunately, eased when the wind 

dropped, and the ship eventually reached Barry Roads where tugs took her to Barry Docks for 

On 12 August 1938 the steamship Norman Queen ran ashore on Flat Holm but refloated.
On 4 October 1938 the Eldonpark was drifting toward Nash Point with engine failure when the 

engineers managed to get them working again in the nick of time and she was able to make 


On 27 November 1938 the Breton schooner Ideal was wrecked near Aberthaw on passage from Swansea 

for Dahouet. She had lost her bow-sprit and head-sails off Bull Point, Devon, and been driven up 

Channel  toward the Welsh coast going aground on the beach off Colhugh Point. The Llantwit Major 

rocket apparatus arrived in time to save three of the crew, one scrambled ashore but another was 


On 21 January 1940 the Prometheus of Liverpool hit a mine off Mumbles Head and was sinking. A 

naval patrol vessel took off 53 people and the Mumbles Lifeboat the remaining 22.
On 7 February 1940 the Greenock steamship Eldonpark went agriund near Port Eynon in a strong 

wind and severe rain which made visability poor. The ship was holed and submerged except for her 

wheelhouse where all 37 crew were sheltering. The Mumbles Lifeboat went to her but was unable to 

attempt a rescue in the prevailing conditions so stood by for four hours until the tide ebbed 

when all the crew were removed to safety. The ship became a total loss and her remains can still 

be seen. The Cox of the Mumbles Lifeboat, W.E.Davies was awarded the formal Thanks of the RNLI 

inscribed on vellum.

On 16 March 1940 the Yugoslav ship Slava was torpedoed off Lynmouth, Devon.  Survivors were 

rescued by another ship.

On 28 May 1940 the banana ship Carare caught fire and sunk after an explosion in the Channel. 

The Minehead, Lynmouth, Ilfracombe and Barry lifeboats went in search of survivors but a naval 

patrol boat found the crew first and rescued them.

On 6 December 1940 the South Coaster, of London, bound for Cardiff in ballast got into 

difficulties near the Breaksea Lightship. The Barry lifeboat (Rachel and Mary Evans) was 

launched with only five hands aboard. The master of the distressed ship did not want to abandon 

ship but asked for a tug. The lifeboat ordered up a tug which set out but was forced back by the 

seas despite two attempts to reach the ship. The cox of the lifeboat again advised the master to 

abandon ship and this time he agreed. The lifeboat managed on its first attempt to take off one 

man. On the second attempt the other 9 crew managed to get into the lifeboat. The lifeboat cox, 

David Lewis, was awarded the RNLI bronze medal and the mechanic, George Allin, the formal Thanks 

of the RNLI.

On 20 January 1941 the Liverpool owned Cornish Rose dragged her anchors in a severe gale off 

Swansea and was very close to the shore. The Captain of the ship was about to launch the ship's 

boat when the Mumbles Lifeboat arrived and the Cox, William Gammon, took the lifeboat alongside 

in very difficult conditions and all crew were saved. Cox Gammon and Mechanic Robert Williams 

were both awarded the Bronze Medal of the RNLI.

October 1942 - Dutch motor cruiser Atlas stranded near Lundy. Only the mate survived out of a 

crew of nine.

On 11 October 1944 the Royal Canadian Navy frigate Cheboque, which had been torpedoed in the 

Atlantic, was towed to Mumbles Roads where she anchored awaiting docking at Swansea. A strong 

gale blew up that night and the frigate began to drag her anchors. Her stern grounded on the bar 

off Port Talbot and a large part of the ship was under water. The Mumbles Lifeboat arrived and 

the Captain of the frigate asked for the 42 crew to be taken off. It was impossible to take off 

the crew by the normal methods so Cox William Gammon decided that the only way was to take the 

lifeboat through the surf, past the frigate, and then turn into the gale and get close enough 

for the crew to jump into the lifeboat. This had to be accomplished more than 10 times as the 

lifeboat could only stay alongside for a few seconds each time and only two or three men could 

jump on each occasion. The rescue took an hour and a half to accomplish and all 42 crew were 

saved, though one broke a leg, one fell into the water between the lifeboat and the frigate and 

had to be pulled out very swiftly before he was crushed when the two craft came together. One of 

the crew fell on top of Cox Gammon and caused him serious bruising !
Cox Gammon was awarded the RNLI Gold Medal, Mechanic William Davies received the Bronze Medal, 

as did Bowman Thomas Ace. The remaining crew members received the formal Thanks on vellum of the 

RNLI. Amongst the crew were two men over 70 years of age and two over 60.

On 9 February 1946 the Glasgow ship Coulgorm stranded on Cardiff Grounds but was able to 


On 23 April 1947 the British ship Samtampa (an ex Liberty ship, 7000 tons) (Captain Sherwell) 

bound from Middlesborough to Newport developed engine trouble in Swansea Bay and dropped anchor 

whilst the problem was sorted out. Later that afternoon the anchor cables parted and the ship 

drifted eastward before a very strong wind towards Nash Shoal. A distress message was sent and 

the Mumbles Lifeboat (Edward, Prince of Wales) was launched under cox William Gammon. At the 

first attempt the lifeboat did not find the ship and returned home where the exact position of 

the Samtampa was given. The lifeboat set out again and was last seen heading across Swansea Bay 

toward the South East. At about the same time as the lifeboat went out the Samtampa went aground 

off Sker Point near Porthcawl and began to break up. Attempts by Porthcawl Life Saving Company 

to get a line aboard with their rockets were thwarted by the severe weather conditions, but next 

morning after the weather had improved the police managed to get aboard the wreck, now broken 

into three pieces, but none of the crew of 31 had survived. The Mumbles Lifeboat never made it 

to the ship. It was found capsized about 450 yards from her, and all eight crew had been lost. 

The crew of the Samtampa were buried in Porthcawl cemetery and the lifeboat crew at Mumbles 

churchyard. The replacement lifeboat was named William Gammon in memory of the drowned cox of 

its predecessor.


On 13 November 1949 the Spanish steamer Monte Gurugu (Captain Luis Numalrz) on a voyage from 

Newport, Mon. to Bilbao, Spain, with coal, on approaching Hartland Point, Devon was hit by a 

series of severe waves which broke her rudder adrift, and the ship started to leak severely. An 

SOS was sent and then the order to Abandon Ship was given. The ship's two boats were lowered but 

one was severely damaged in the process and the 12 men on board thrown into the sea. Two crew 

members also managed to get into a dinghy, but the Captain, being the last to leave had to jump 

into the sea, where he was picked up by the ship's lifeboat. Quickly after the ship was 

abandoned one of her boilers blew up and she broke in two and sank. The SOS sent by the ship was 

picked up by a tanker, the Lady Frederica, but she was unable to assist without putting her crew 

in danger, and by the Coastguards who alerted the Appledore, Clovelly and Ilfracombe Lifeboat 

Stations. The Clovelly Lifeboat, the William Cantrell Ashley, went out in search of survivors 

near Hartland Point, but the wreck had taken place further away, The Appledore Lifeboat, Violet 

Armstrong, found five bodies and the remains of the ship's boat which had been damaged during 

launch, the they found one man only just alive and headed for Ilfracombe to enable him to 

receive urgent medical attention. The Ilfracombe Lifeboat, Richard Silver Oliver,  under cox 

Cecil Irwin, was launched despite very severe weather conditions and headec for Woolacombe Bay 

in the hope of picking up any boat that was driven that way by the weather. They did indeed find 

the remaining ship's boat full of survivors in great difficulties. A grapnel was eventually 

secured and the boat towed into deeper water in order to get the survivors aboard the Ilfracombe 

Lifeboat. Twentythree crew were saved. The dinghy, which had carried the radio operator and 

another man was washed up on Woolacombe Sands, and the radioman survived but the other man died. 

The Ilfracombe Lifeboat went out again to search for more survivors but none were found. Despite 

a further search the next day by the Lifeboats and aircraft from RAF Chivenor the remaining six 

men were never found.
The Spanish Lifeboat Society awarded its Silver Medal to each of the three coxs and all lifeboat 

crewmembers were awarded a diploma.  All awards were presented at a ceremony on Ilfracombe Pier 

on 30 June 1950. The coxs of the Appledore and Ilfracombe boats also received a bronze and 

silver medal respectively from the RNLI.

On 24 August 1953 the English & Welsh Grounds Lightvessel sprung a leak in a severe gale and 

heavy seas. The Barry lifeboat went out to her and stood by until the Trinity House tender, 

Vestal, arrived from her Swansea base. 


On 10 November 1954 the Trinity House vessel Alert reported the the sand dredger Bowstar, of 

Cardiff, was in difficulties near Steep Holm. The Barry lifeboat went to her aid but the master 

decided not to abandon ship but to try to get to Newport by going slowly astern, but requested 

the lifeboat to accompany him in case of need. The dredger made it back to the River Usk.
On 18 June 1960 another dredger, the Ron Woolaway, of Barnstaple, only in service for one week, 

capsized near Flat Holm. The crew of seven swam ashore at Flat Holm and were taken to Barry by 

the lifeboat. A sister ship, the Stan Woolaway, connected a hawser to the upturned dredger and 

later Cardiff tugs towed her to Penarth where she was eventually uprighted and repaired.
On 8 January 1962 the coastal motor tanker Candourity, of London, had engine trouble off 

Breaksea Point in severe weather. A tug eventually got a hawser to her and towed her to Barry 


On 25 January 1962 the Dutch motor vessel Carmen, of Groningen, stranded on Sully Island but was 

refloated the following day and towed to Cardiff by the tug Emphatic, escorted by the Barry 


In 1962 the Green Ranger, a 3000 ton Fleet Auxiliary tanker being towed to Cardiff by the tug 

Caswell for a refit became detached from the tug when the cable parted in heavy seas. She had 

only a skeleton crew of seven aboard and was driven towards Hartland. An RAF helicopter from 

Chivenor was unable to rescue the crew because of the severe winds, Hartland Lifesaving Company 

could not get a line to her by rocket in the wind, and the Clovelly Lifeboat was unable to reach 

her in the heavy seas, but Appledore Lifeboat (Louisa Anne Hawker) under cox Sydney Camm did get 

to her but found no sign of the crew. Later it was found that the crew had been rescued from the 

shore. Three volunteers from the Hartland Lifesaving Company had climbed down the cliff face in 

terrible conditions in order to be able to get close enough to the ship to get a rocket on 

board. This they did and the crew were hauled to safety by line. The Hartland Lifesaving Company 

were awarded the Wreck Service Shield for their bravery. Cox Camm of the Appledore Lifeboat 

received the RNLI Silver Medal and the lifeboat crew received the thanks of the RNLI on vellum.

On 3 August 1981 the motor vessel Prince Ivanhoe (Captain David Neill) was on one of its regular  

pleasure trips in the Bristol Channel from Penarth, Glamorgan to Minehead, Somerset and then to 

Mumbles and the Gower coast, Glamorgan. Just as the boat turned into Port Eynon Bay, Gower, 

there was a loud report and the captain realised that the boat had been holed, but he did not 

realise how badly. Passengers were advised to put on lifebelts and go to the muster stations as 

a precaution, 'though there was no great danger. He sent an SOS message which was heard by the 

Coastguard Station at Mumbles, who alerted the RAF Air-Sea Rescue helicopters and the lifeboat 

stations at Horton and Mumbles. Meantime the captain had found that the boat was taking on water 

at an alarming rate and he decided that the best course of action would be to beach her. He 

brought her very carefully inshore and grounded her on the sands about 100 yards from the beach. 

In a perfectly organised rescue the Horton and Port Eynon lifeboats took off the 450 passengers, 

women and children first. Then the Mumbles Lifeboat arrived and took off the ship's instruments, 

stores and the the crew. Letters of appreciation were sent by the RNLI to the coxs of the Horton 

& Mumbles lifeboats. The cause of the wreck was never finally decided and it took three years 

for the remains of the boat to be removed from the sands. 



For an account of the sinking of the SS Castleton (Matthew Cope & Co, Cardiff) in Bideford Bay in 1886 click here.

For a brief account of the wreck of the SS Cornubia of Cardiff (Short & Dunn) off Spain in 1874 click here

For an excellent account of the wreck of the Barque "John" off Cornwall in 1855, including crew and passenger lists and Boart of Trade Enquiry and newspaper reports (Website by Mark Sandford) click here

For information on shipwrecks off The Lizard, Cornwall click here

For information on other shipwrecks off Cornwall click here

For information on shipwrecks off Pembrokeshire click here

For a list of shipwrecks around the world (This is a site for wreck divers but very worthwhile looking at if you have an interest in ships) click here

Go to Maritime Index

Go to Glamorgan Index