DEATH – Toll of the Sea – Redcar – 6 Fishermen Drowned.


Redcar Disaster Recalled
Six Fishermen Drowned
In sight of comrades

            February 5, 1909, is one of the fatal dates in Redcar’s history. It was on this day that the sea took toll of six brave Redcar fishermen. Here is the story told by an eye witness:-

            A sudden gale followed by mountainous seas, took the Redcar fishing fleet by surprise in the early hours of the morning, and half a dozen fishermen lost their lives. Bad though the disaster proved, it might have been worse, for, according to the statements of several of the survivors, it was a miracle how so many escaped, so terrible were the seas, and so violent the gale.

            Out of thirteen boats, eleven reached the shore in safety, but the struggle was a stiff one, and was in reality, a fight for life.

            Redcar fishermen are deservedly considered among the most discreet on the coast, and never put off when there is the slightest evidence of a storm; and it was a surprise to them all to find the gale rise with such startling suddenness. At half past four the conditions for fishing were most favourable, but at 6.30 the gale rose quickly that one of the veteran salts said it resembled the crack of the gun; and Coxswain Upton, of the life-boat, who was out fishing, did not hesitate to describe it as a miracle that the whole fleet had not been wiped out, for it was the worst sea and gale he had experienced in his long career.

            As soon as the danger was realised, an attempt was made by the fishermen to recover their nets, but so violent did the gale become that is was considered advisable to cut these and make for the shore as quickly as possible.

Rescue Attempt 

            Two of the boats drifted safely into Skinningrove Bay, seven miles from Redcar, and of the remaining eleven nine succeeded in drifting on to the beach to the east of Marske, little worse except for the loss of a few oars and other equipment.

            Two boats, however, were not so fortunate and one containing James Hall, senior, James Hall, junior, father and son, and Thos, Stonehouse, brother-in-law of the first named, was seen by Thomas Baker and his two companions to be in difficulties, and a few minutes later as Baker was nearing the shore he observed the boat overturn.

            Immediately he tried to turn the coble round, with the object of giving assistance, but the attempt was futile, and a few minutes afterwards Hall’s craft was found drifting towards land without any occupant. It was bottom upwards when it reached the edge of the water.

 Two Brothers

            The other unfortunate party were Robt. Boagey and John Boagey, two brothers, and H. Walton and their boat capsized not very far from Saltburn Pier. Three labourers, named Thomas Wardell, Thomas Trowsdale and George Hicks, who were working near the entrance to the pier, noticed the precarious condition of the boat, and after it had overturned one of the occupants, apparently Walton, was observed to be making a desperate attempt to get ashore.

            The labourers tried unsuccessfully to throw out a life-line, and finding they were unable to do any good with this owing to the gale, they plunged into the water. Walton was only about 20 yards from them when he was overpowered by the waves and drawn back by a very strong undercurrent, and then disappeared from view. He was last seen throwing his hands up evidently making some exclamation, Shortly afterwards the overturned boat was washed up.

             The Redcar life-boat put off during the morning in the hope of finding some trace of the missing men, but their search was fruitless.

 Narrow Escapes 

            Of the missing men, Robert Boagey, John Boagey, Harry Walton, and James Hall were married. Needless to say general sympathy is expressed with the sufferers, and the chairman of the Urban Council, Mr. Wardman, decided to inaugurate a relief fund, and already a large sum has been promised.

            Two pilots were waiting for boats at the entrance to the Tees, also had a lively experience. They were named Wm. Snowden of Hartlepool, and Joseph Garthwaite, of Redcar, and they and their assistants were driven ashore close to Marske, whilst Addison Boagey and his assistants were in a precarious position off Rawcliffe, eight miles south of their Redcar home, when they were picked up by the steamer “Cattersty” bound from Skinningrove to Middlesbrough, and landed at the latter port.

            Of the pilots, however the most exciting experience was that of Wm. Grey, of East Hartlepool, who was caught in the gale off Tee mouth as he was trying to go into Hartlepool. The wind drove him towards Redcar, and when a quarter of a mile from land a wave swept over the boat and swamped it. Grey when in the water managed to snatch at the mast, and, with a struggle, succeeded in detaching it from the cobble. Holding onto this he endeavoured to reach land, but he was in a very exhausted condition when still a short distance off the edge of the water.

            A cart-man named Bowers was fortunately on the beach at the time, and he observed the pilot struggling in the water. At once he drove the horse into the sea, and by this means succeeded in rescuing Gray, who at that time was almost overcome.

 Townsfolk Meeting 

            A representative meeting of Redcar’s leading townspeople was held under the chairmanship of the Re. John Groves, Vicar, to decide upon forming  a fund for the relief of the suffers.

            It was unanimously resolved to establish a fund and it was announced that the Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding (Sir Hugh Bell) had promised to subscribe £20 and his son a similar amount.

            Various promises were made in the room, and the total sum subscribed was about £100. A committee was appointed to administer the fund. It as decided to pay all funeral expenses.

            Up to the evening of the next day no bodies had been recovered. The bodies were nearly all washed up some days later.




dean March 14, 2010 Doctors & Health