The waters between Rye and Newhaven are situated
in the narrowest section of the English Channel, one
of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. In fact
it was reported that on 20th December 1848 about 1000
vessels were seen to pass off Hastings.
Therefore it comes as no suprise that with this amount
of shipping there were many collisions between vessels,
which became ever more severe with the advent of steam
driven, iron built ships in the second half of the
century. However,most vessels became wrecks due to
navigational error or the poor weather conditions.
The reporting of these mishaps during the majojrity
of this period was only possible when members of the
crew were saved or a vessel failed to arrive at its
destination. Therefore, reports of sea disasters were
often not made until days or weeks after the event,
unless there were others involved in any rescue attempt.
In these cases the rescue was invariably within coastal
waters such as those recorded within in the authors
two books, "East Sussex Shipwrecks of the 19th
Century (Pevensey-Hastings-Rye)" and "Beachy
Head Shipwrecks of the 19th century (Pevensey-Eastbourne-Newhaven)".
Within the two books, some 500 shipwrecks are documented
in chronological order of loss, detailing all the
known features of each vessel together with the known
circumstances of their loss researched in the main
from newspaper reports of the day.
As well as shipwreck details there is information
on types of rigging, Martello Towers, Coastguard and
Lifeboat stations, and the Lights and
caves of Beachy Head.
This pair of books contain the most comprehensive
list and catalogue of accounts recorded at the time
of events in the 1800's. As such they form an invaluable
work of reference for anyone interested in the history
of merchant shipping, from marine archaeologists to
historians and amateur divers.
David's first book 'East Sussex Shipwrecks of the
19th Century (Pevensey - Hastings - Rye)' was published
in August 2002 and is available to purchase from this
His second book 'Beachy Head Shipwrecks of the 19th
Century (Pevensey - Eastbourne - Newhaven)' was published
on 8th April 2004 and is also available to purchase
from this site.