Beachy Head Shipwrecks of the 19th Century
(Pevensey - Eastbourne - Newhaven)

by David Renno

Beachy Head Shipwrecks of the 19th century

Beachy Head is probably the most well known point on the south coast, if not the whole of the UK coastline, for a variety of reasons.

Over many years, vessels have become wrecks below these white chalk cliffs, and many mariners have lost their lives as a consequence. During the 19th century, there were some 320 shipwrecks between the towns of Pevensey and Newhaven in East Sussex.

The stories of the vessels mentioned in this book have, in the main, been researched from local news reports. All known information about every recorded shipwreck is detailed here in chronological order of loss, together with an alphabetical index of vessels, plus a comprehensive index of all names and subject matter in the book.

It also contains details of ship rigging, and types of rigging as well as details of Coastguard and lifeboat stations, Martello Towers, and the 'lights' and caves at Beachy Head.

An immensely detailed and well researched volume about the shipwrecks in this area, containing many fascinating, and sometimes poignant, accounts of the vessels and their crews and passengers being lost at sea.

This is a treasure trove that can be dipped into and enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in the sea, or in local maritime or social history.

Sample page



Wreck Location: Ashore at Beachy Head
Description of Vessel:  
Gross tonnage - 570
Vessel Type - British sailing merchantman
Cargo: Cotton, drugs and general cargo
Voyage: Smyrna to London
Ship's Master: W. Lee

This vessel's difficulties started at about 5am on Friday 23rd April 1802, when she was driven ashore at Beachy Head by the prevailing weather. However, the crew worked tirelessly and managed to re-float the Princess at about 3pm that afternoon. The vessel had not been afloat that long when the vessel unshipped its redder. The inevitable result was that the Princess was driven back on the shore at Beachy Head. The cargo was of such great value, about £80,000, that the local Collector of Customs at Newhaven took over the supervision of cargo and crew who were kept in quarantine on the vessel. He sent a party of local dragoons to patrol the beach not only to keep an eye on the crew but also to prevent people plundering the cargo.

Over the following week a great part of the cargo was saved by removing it to smaller local boats which in turn ferried it to six brigs and four sloops that were at anchor off the wreck. This itself was not without dangers because on Thursday, 29th April 1802, two of the small ferrying boats foundered in a sudden squall, laden with part of the rescued cargo. The two crews were saved but the owners of these two smaller boats had to repay the value of the lost cargo which amounted to thousands of pounds. Shipbroker Mr St. Barb, is said to be the main owner of the cargo that was on board the Princess.

The Princess was a captured Spanish privateer which had been later sold as a merchantman.

Ref: SIBI; SWA 26.4.1802 & 3.5.1802

Published Price: 25.00
ISBN: 1903637201
Published By: Amherst Publishing
Publication Date: 08 April 2004
Format: Cloth / Hardback, x 511 pages
Languages: English
Availability: On sale from 08 April 2004

For more information contact the author at

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