Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A human tragedy

Over the course of this year I have been scouting the low water mark behind the East Pier Ramsgate to about half way along the main sands on a regular occurrence. I have found a piece of human vertebrae, a piece of a crashed spitfire and many pieces of wooden ship wrecks amongst other things. However, everything I found does have one thing in common in the fact that everything is a result of a tragedy. Although I cannot link most of the found items to any specific event in history apart from the spitfire part , research into the history of the recorded maritime losses at the entrance to Ramsgate Harbour in the days of sail is staggering. The loss of life of mariners attempting to reach the haven of the harbour in stormy weather runs into many along with their vessels.
Board of Trade returns at the time give brief reports of these tragedies which today would be headlines. One such example is the loss of the "Daring" a fishing smack lost entering the harbour 13th March 1867.

"During wind conditions E force 10 with heavy seas , was dashed against the East Pier Head, where her bowsprit was carried away and later the vessel was dashed to pieces. The steam tug"Vulcan" put out to sea to save survivors, but all five have drowned. Mr Rigden, the Whitstable diver, was employed to recover some ballast"

The loss of the "Maria Ann" 20th October 1855

" Whilst attempting to enter the Harbour in wind conditions SW force 10, was thrown against the pier head and foundered within only a few yards of the mast. A lot of other vessels were attempting to enter at the same time, the pier was full of people. One crewman managed to reach the pier via the rigging before the wreck fell over, another was drowned after being injured when the bowsprit broke.The remaining three crew members took to the rigging, but despite attempts to throw heaving lines to them from ashore , due to the force of the wind, although the distance was thirty feet, none could reach them. There only hope was the lifeboat, already engaged with the tug "Aid" in helping other vessels. The French man 0' war gun boat " St Barbe", then drove athwart of the mast of the wreck, so preventing the lifeboat getting closer, but one more crewman was able to clamber into her rigging. The lifeboat saved one other man, but the third crewman, lashed to the mast drowned,"

Another report from the 19th December 1814 is as follows "In a heavy gale three vessels, including th Dutch galliot "DRIE KEIDEN", the French brigs "ROSIE" an "AGALE" and the "ORION" missed the entrance to Ramsgate Harbour and went ashore. The "ORION" is still ashore and bilged, her cargo landed and may be at total wreck" . There is no recorded loss of life for that incident.

1 comment:

Millicent said...

It wasn't just shipwrecks - my father grew up in Ramsgate in the 1920s and 1930s and remembered people drowning when they got too close to the harbour wall when swimming and were dragged under by the strong undercurrent - but I think the beach was a different shape then.He went to the old St George's School so it is possible one of the victims was someone he knew.