WRECK of the S.S. PRESTON 210 tons

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RHOSNEIGR 1859

 

The south coast of Anglesey stretches from the entrance to the Menai Strait almost as far as South Stack near Holyhead. There have been numerous wrecks in this area which faces the prevailing south-west wind. In the days of sail it was not unusual for vessels to be carried into Caernarfon Bay in overcast weather conditions and end their days on the beaches or rocks. Many of these ships were making for Liverpool or ports further north. Others were outward bound but forced back by storm conditions.

Here we have the master's account of the wreck of the Liverpool steamship PRESTON. 

We sailed from Bordeaux on 26 March 1859 and called at St Nazaire to complete our cargo of wines, fruit and flour. Left St Nazaire for Liverpool at noon on the 30th.

At 6 p.m. 1st April passed the Longships bearing ESE, weather thick and hazy.

At noon on 2nd the Bishop Rock bore SE 7 miles, the wind strong from south, steering NbyE. At 8 p.m. I was informed by the engineer that we had no more than 4 hours of coal left so I ordered the fires to be banked, and proceeded under canvas.

The ship was very bad to steer and had to take in all the after canvas. Altered course to NNE.

At 4 a.m. on 3rd got steam up steering NEbyE.  6 a.m. hove the lead but did not get any soundings. 

Very thick weather. Fires banked and again proceeded under canvas. Immediately afterwards the lookout shouted "Land Ahead!" The helm was put hard aport to try to clear the end of a reef but the Preston had lost way and drifted broadside onto the rocks. The ship was full of water, the sea making clean breaches over her fore and aft. Launched the lifeboat and we pushed off. In a few minutes a boat from the shore hailed us and guided us through the reef to the beach where we landed safely. 

Within half an hour the mainmast and funnel came down and she broke in two.

The cargo washed out and was soon strewn for miles along the shore. The engines and boilers are now all that can be seen. 

The crew saved none of their belongings except what they stood in.

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The Preston was wrecked on a reef of rocks off Rhosneigr. The master and crew, fifteen all told, were taken in by the men who had guided them ashore, but were soon on their way to Holyhead by rail where the Shipwrecked Mariners Society took over. After a couple of days they were provided with train tickets to get them home to Liverpool. 

Cunnah, the deputy Receiver of Wreck, and Brooks, chief officer of the Coastguard, at Holyhead, went to Rhosneigr as soon as the news reached them on the morning of the 3rd. There they assisted Lloyd's agent and the agent for the Liverpool Underwriters to save as much of the cargo as they could before nightfall.

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At its next meeting in London the Royal National Lifeboat Institution awarded ten shillings to each of the five Rhosneigr fishermen who had guided the Preston's crew to safety.