Thursday 24 August 2017

The shipwreck that launched the shipping forecast

Dogger, Fisher, German Bight…..the Shipping Forecast is 150 years old today.

Its weather warnings began life as a response to the wreck of the Royal Charter off Anglesey on 26 October 1859, in which 450 people lost their lives. The disaster happened during what is considered the worst storm of the 19th century in the Irish Sea. Altogether, 69 ships were wrecked at a cost of nearly 800 lives.

The iron-hulled steam clipper was bringing emigrants and gold back from the goldfields of Australia to Liverpool. As the ship reached Holyhead, it ran into 100 mile-an-hour winds.

The captain tried to anchor the vessel, but at half past one in the morning, only hours from the end of its long voyage, the Royal Charter was dashed onto rocks and broke in two just 50 yards from land.

As people watched from the shore horrified, an able seaman, Joseph Rogers, leapt into the waves. Three times he was beaten back, but on his fourth try, he was able to tie the vessel to a rock. Twenty-eight local men formed a human chain and managed to rescue 41 of those on board.

For more, see A Disastrous History of Britain.

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