From a letter written by a schoolboy in the latter part of the nineteenth century printed in Rowntree's 'History of Scarborough'.
I feel I must write you an account of what happened this week. We have been visited by the most fearful hurricane that has been known for twenty five years, and there have been displayed noble deeds of bravery ... The first thing I saw when I got to the cliff was a fine brigantine, the Black Eyed Susan of Bideford with a cargo of salt, lying on the sand just by the slipway of the Spa. She had most of her sails set, and the crew had just been rescued by the life-boat.
It turned out when she first struck, the rocket apparatus got a line over her, but the crew were too weak to use it, the captain having his leg broken and the mate also damaged. A call was then made for the life-boat ... and she was launched amid the cheers of the thousands assembled. She ran a fearful chance of being lost, but ultimately she rescued the crew of five although three of the oars were dashed out of the boat.
The next wreck that caught my gaze was a large brig the Mary of S Shields in ballast lying opposite the Grand. She was the first vessel to come ashore and she nearly ran on to the Castle Foot through her sails being blown away. Her crew of six was rescued by the life-boat which had only just left when the main mast went by the board, carrying with it the fore topmast.
After dinner I happened to be going upstairs when I saw a large brig in the bay trying to beat out on the port tack. I immediately dashed down to the harbour. The wind had by this time moderated and the sun was shining. When I got to the harbour she had stayed and was beating north with every stitch of canvas set on the starboard tack. It was soon evident she was not working out, and when she had got into the North Bay she hoisted the tricoleur, reversed and went about and stood in.
Upon this there was a general rush along the outer pier and many got a dowsing which I am glad to say I escaped. She simply flew through the water and I had just reached the Lighthouse when round the pier head she came. Her sails, of course, were immediately taken aback which she wisely brailed up. She then let go a couple of anchors , which of course she immediately began to drag ... the crew of eight were taken off the vessel which proved to be the Jeune Adolphe of Nantes in ballast, and curiously she struck in exactly the same spot as the E.J.D. of Nantes struck eight years ago. It was by this time low water, but the gale was so strong the tide hardly went out.
The tug Alexandra had in the meantime come out, on the appearance of another brig which was soon running for the harbour. The tug made an attempt to get hold of her but failed, and she went ashore near the West pier. The crew of six were rescued by a smack's boat which was lustily cheered. She was the Arun of Littlehampton in ballast. The next arrival was the Maria of Yarmouth in ballast: she came near enough for a coble to get a warp ashore.
We on the pier immediately began tramping her in, when she fouled the pier and before she could get out of the way the brigantine Gastry of Maryport, with plaster of paris, dashed clean into her; there was a fearful crash of timber and tearing of sails. But they were both got in safely, the tug towing in the former which grounded in the harbour and prevented the tug towing in the former which grounded in the harbour and prevented the tug from coming out again. While this was going on a large brig, the Lily, with chalk, was seen driving across the bay towards Cayton. She had only her lower mast standing, and only her foresail set.
She managed to haul her wind a little and came ashore near the Black Rock. I never saw such a sad sight with the Union Jack tied to the fore rigging. Everybody gave her up for lost, but the rocket apparatus was despatched and shot after her shot was fired without effect.
While this was going on a screw steam trawler hove in sight. She was going very slowly and it was feared her fires were going out. This proved to be the case, for when she had rounded the pier the propeller stopped and her fires began hissing. We tramped her in after considerable difficulty. The next arrival was the yawl Edith, SH 16. She had both a main and mizzen blown away, and came in under stay sails: she at last was walked in after great difficulty.
I then went along shore to look after the Lily. The seventh rocket had taken effect and they were getting men ashore, but we were warned not to go as the tide was rising, and the men were working up to their waists. The Captain had his leg broken and another of the crew also damaged. I then went towards the harbour and soon saw a blue light burned and immediately after a black object looming through the dark. She then burned a flare and came ashore close to the French brig.
The life-boat was run down but they could not get her off the carriage, and when at last they succeeded the life-boat drifted ashore and had to be placed on the carriage again and run into the sea. This occupied and hour and a half. They soon took the crew off the vessel, which proved to be the J. Prizeman of Plymouth, with grain. There was the skipper, who had some ribs broken, and his wife and child and two men. The poor beggars were nearly dead with cold.
The wind during the night was blowing worse than ever. In the morning, before breakfast, I went round by the Esplanade. There were two more vessels ashore. One, the brigantine Gastry that got safely into port, was lying opposite the Aquarium. She broke every rope, a nine inch cable and a chain, the men, however, jumping ashore as she came out of the harbour.
The other was the schooner Bosphorus, in ballast, which was lying close to the Black Rock. I looked for the French brig Jeune Adolphe and the sloop 'J.Prizeman', but not seeing them, at first I thought they had been got off. But what meant all that wreckage strewn across the shore? On inquiry, I found that they had come into collision during the night and broken into each other up. After leaving school in the morning I went down to the harbour: the sea was something fearful, far worse than the day before.
The first vessel that have in sight was a steam trawler: she was awfully smashed up, both paddle box and bulwarks and stanchions being carried away. She was burned off and put about and stood north. The next was the trawler, Nymph, and although she was burned off she came in. She was followed by several others which all got in safely. At last came a Dutch galliot, the 5 Gebrude, laden with coal. She struck too soon as she came round the pier and as in the case of the French brig, the tug was not ready, and the cobles did not render any assistance.
They waved to her to let go her anchors which she accordingly did, but too late. The tug then came out when she had got into broken water, but did not go half the way. The life-boat was then launched and in a fearful sea rescued two men and a boy who were clinging to the rigging. One of the crew had been washed overboard before she came here. Soon after the yawl Diligent, SH 151, had an awfully near shave. She got a warp ashore, but as everyone was hauling the rope broke. But the tug managed to get hold of her and bring her into harbour. She had lost her skipper, Robson, a well known man. The trawler Alexandra also arrived with the skipper washed overboard.
The yawl Decision also with her skipper lost. All the yawls had lost their nets, and as each boat's nets are worth several hundred pounds the loss is immense. On Saturday the trawler Empress arrived with five of the crew of a water logged brig which she had found off Scarborough, one man was, however, dead. There are many ships ashore at Cloughton and Burniston with loss of life. One Scarborough trawler, Gantlet, lost at Filey, and the yawl Spray at Bridlington.
There are three Filey yawls gone ashore at Bridlington and Robin Hood's Bay, and great anxiety is felt for two others which have notturned up. There are ten Scarborough trawlers not reported themselves , but they are very likely staying out fishing. They may get one or two of the stranded vessels off if the weather holds good...
- Scarborough Evening News 13th November, 1925.