WRECK of the BRIG RICHARD, of SUNDERLAND

at TENBY on 3 August 1844

 

The brig RICHARD was of 185 tons net and left Cardiff with a cargo of coal for London. On 2 August 1844 she was anchored in Caldy roads. At about 1.30 a.m. the next day a severe gale began from the south east. The wind veered through the day and caused the loss of a number of vessels on the Gower coast and in parts of Pembrokeshire.

The vessel parted her cables and drifted onto the White Bank which lay between Caldy and Tenby. The crew made sail and got her off the bank but she had now lost her rudder and slowly drifted towards Tenby's South Sands. Soon after dawn many hundreds of people watched from the shore and even from the upper rooms of Tenby's houses and hotels.

The Richard now struck the shore but the tide was on the flood. If the tide had been ebbing she would have been left dry and the crew would have a better chance of getting ashore.

Lt. Guillet of the coastguard arrived with his men and the Manby mortar. The fury of the gale was increasing and the brig was pounded by huge seas. The Manby apparatus was not powerful enough to get a line to the brig.

The Richard's crew now took to the rigging. With the vessel pounding on the shore her hull parted and most of her cargo came out allowing the wreck to drift even closer to the shore. The coastguard were then able to get two lines over the wreck but her crew could not reach them. As the seas broke over the hull the master and mate were thrown against the forecastle and windlass with great force. The mate was injured and did not get up and drowned there.

The master got on the bowsprit with the other five members of his crew. One man then got into the jolly boat which was capsized time and time again and he was also lost.

Both masts now came down. It looked as though the bowsprit was about to part from the hull so the master dived in and attempted to swim ashore but was drowned. The cook tied a line which had been fired from the shore around his waist. The men ashore then pulled him towards the beach but the far end of the line was tangled in the wreck and he too was lost.

The remaining three men clunge to the windlass until at last the wreck was driven close in below a rock which stood about thirty feet high. Lines were thrown down and two of them drawn ashore. A scaling ladder was thrown down to save the last man.

Those who survived were: Thomas Cook, William Wells and Thomas Stubbs.

The men who died were: William Cook the master, William Watts the mate,                   Robert Clasher the cook, and James Tate seaman.

The people of Tenby and those visiting the town, which was quite a tourist destonation even in those days, raised almost £50 to assist the survivors and the families of those lost.

The survivors were taken up to Bristol in the Phoenix steamer. There they were fitted with new clothes before being sent home to Sunderland. Subscribers at the Commercial Rooms began a new fund which raised £20 in the first two hours. This too was sent to the bereaved in Sunderland.