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Portland Year Book 1905


One of the most disastrous wrecks on record, that of the "Earl of Abergavenny" an East Indiaman, commanded by Capt J. Wordsworth, a younger brother of the Poet Laureate, occurred on the Shambles on the night of February 5th, 1805. The Abergavenny sailed from Portsmouth bound for China. Se had on board 402 persons, viz. 160 seamen 159 troops, 51 passengers and 32 Chinese. The ebb tide drove her on the rocks. She beat over the shoal but the, water gained fast in her hold. The captain endeavoured to make for harbour, but the ship founded (sic) in the bay 2 miles from Weymouth Esplanade. About 270 persons met with a watery grave. The bodies of many of these were afterwards recovered and interred in the churchyards of Melcombe, Radipole, and Wyke. On March 20th the body of Capt. Wordsworth was taken up on the beach near Weymouth, and on the next day was conveyed to the Parish Church of Wyke Regis, followed by a great number of the principal inhabitants of Weymouth, and there interred.


Nov. 25th, 1872. During a heavy South Westerly gale the "Royal Adelaide", a largo merchant vessel, bound from London to Australia, with a general cargo, was driven ashore and wrecked on Chesil Beach. Portlanders made superbly heroic efforts to save the crew and passengers and performed prodigies of valour. With the aid of the rocket apparatus, ropes, etc., they succeeded in rescuing 60 persons from the doomed vessel. Seven on board the ship were drowned. Mr John Way of Fortune's Well, who assisted in the work of rescue and possesses an interesting memento in a photographic copy of a painting of the wreck, told a Telegram representative that all the persons might have been saved but the last seven were apparently trying to induce a poor old lady to face transit by the lifesaving buoy from the ship when they were all swept away by huge seas.


Early on the morning of September 12th, 1877, a boat was discovered on the Chesil Beach, Portland, bottom upwards, by some quarrymen and fishermen, who shortly afterwards picked up several dead bodies. About eight o'clock a boat, with people in it, was seen some two miles distant from the shore, in the West Bay, with a flag of distress flying. As the Portland fishermen knew it would be impossible for the boat to land in the face of such a sea as was then breaking on the beach, they determined to risk their own lives in order to save those of their fellow creatures this not being the first by a great many times when they have acted so noble and heroic a part. Accordingly a boat was manned by men whose names deserve a page in history, the crew consisting of John Flann, Thomas Pearce, Joseph Shaddock, Lewis White, Thomas White, J. P. Way and T. P. Way. At the risk of their own lives these gallant fellows successfully launched their boat and went to the assistance of the shipwrecked crew, which they found to consist of twelve persons ; the only survivors of 120 souls, the whole of the remainder having lost, their lives owing to a collision the night previous between the ships "Avalanche" of Southampton, and the "Forest" of Windsor (Nova Scotia). As it was impossible to land these twelve persons in the boat, which had gone out to their assistance, another boat was signalled for, when there was an equally ready response amongst the men on the beach to risk their lives as had characterised that of the brave fellows who had started a short time previously. The names of the second boat's crew were Wm. Flann, senr., Wm. Flann junr., George Byatt John Byatt, John Way, John Bennett and George White. Six of the survivors were transferred to each boat and, after considerable difficulty and danger, the whole were safely landed, this being as gallant and as noble is deed as had ever been witnessed on any part of the English coast.

1795 (November). One thousand persons were drowned in West Bay by the wreck on Chesil Beach of a fleet of warships and transports, under Admiral Christian.

1815 (March 27th). 140 drowned and five saved froth the wreck of the barque "Alexander"

1839 (October). Nine vessels wrecked, crews of eight of them perished

1840 (January 24th). Brig Saggataro, a pirate vessel, wrecked, crew saved.

1860 (December 30th). Portlanders launched one of their "lerrets" and saved the crew of the schooner "Narvel"

1887. (October 30) - Cutter yacht Laureate wrecked on the Breakwater, 10 drowned.

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