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Deal and Walmer, Wrecks during the 1850s

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The Goodwin Sands are a great sandbank, eight miles long and about four miles wide, rising out of deep water four miles off Deal. Between the Goodwins and Deal lies a stretch of deep water, in which there is great anchorage for shipping. This area is known as the Downs.

The 'sheltered' anchorage of the Downs is a relative term, even in this shelter the vessels are sometimes blown away from their anchorage, both by easterly and westerly winds and thus founder upon the Goodwin Sands or The Ship Swallower, as it is known.

This website contains extracts from the Deal & Walmer Telegram Newspaper c. 1850 onwards relating to Wrecks & Rescues of the Goodwin Sands. All events are factual, and are written as they appeared in print.

Welcome to the Wrecks and Rescues of the Goodwin Sands.


The Deal & Walmer Telegram Newspaper

Extracts therefrom
Vol. 3 No. 1

The information displayed here is from the former Deal and Walmer website by the generous permission of Linda Corbett.
  • Accident in the Downs

  • Wreck on the Goodwin Sands

  • Shipwreck on the Goodwin Sands

17th February 1858.
On 16th February the crew of the 'Gem', North Deal, brought on shore the body of a seaman named LAND, who last evening unfortunately fell from the rigging of the bark ' Neptune's Bride' of Shields (Capt. Weatherburn) from London to Bobart Town and was instantly killed.  (Note: LAND is buried at the Marines burial ground, Walmer).

20th April 1859.
WRECK ON THE GOODWIN SANDS.It is our painful duty to narrate another of those fearful calamities so frequent here, viz., a wreck on the Goodwin Sands, which occured on the morning of Friday 15th April, to a vessel called (in nautical phrase), a billybuoy, and which eventually turned out to be the 'Liberal', of Wisbech (Capt.Bowen), from Grangemouth to St.Valery, France, laden with pig iron. The following particulars we gather from the lad who was fortunately rescued from impending death, and from CHIDWICKE, who acted so prominent & valiant a part in his endeavour to save the life of the captain.

About day break, between 2 and 3 o'clock, on 15th April, some of the boatmen usually

on the look out near the lifeboat at Walmer, discovered a vessel on shore on the South sands of the Goodwin. The alarm bell of the Lifeboat was immediately rung, and the captain (BUSHELL) and crew, thirteen in number, were shortly mustered; and as soon as the tide would permit, the Lifeboat left the shore. It was blowing a strong breeze at the time, and, in consequence of a strong Southerly wind during the night, which was now almost a gale, blowing from N.N.W., the cross sea caused thereby, together with the in-shore tide, caused the sea on the Goodwin Sands to be so mountainous - like a huge boiling cauldron.

Sometime before reaching the vessel they discovered that the sea was making a clean breach over her, and that the crew, four in number, had taken to the rigging, they could also discern that the lugger 'Seaman's Hope', was in the vicinity of the wreck, but was unable to render any assistance. On the arrival of the Lifeboat, the first concern of the crew was to rescue the half-perished mariners in the rigging, one of which (the mate) had disappeared previous to the arrival of the Lifeboat. At that time it was impossible to approach nearer than within about 50 fathoms of the wreck. As soon as the off tide made the violence of the sea somewhat abate, they succeeded in pulling close to the wreck, which by this time was fast breaking up, another of the crew, a seaman named HENRY NORRIS, had in the meantime been washed off and drowned, and there now remained but two clinging to the mast, which at that moment came down with a crash, and fell across the bow of the Lifeboat. It was at this juncture that the lad, JOHN NEWMAN, was saved, by relinquishing his hold and jumping into the Lifeboat. The captain was not so fortunate; he fell into the sea, but was, by great exertions on the part of the crew, laid hold of by his clothes, but the clothes tore away from his body and he again floated away. It appeared he was so much exhausted, that he was unable to make any effort to assist himself.

At that moment, JOHN CHIDWICKE, one of the crew of the lifeboat, determined upon making a final effort to save the drowning man, heroically jumped overboard, and succeeded in laying hold of him by the collar of his coat, and bringing him to the lifeboat, but on account of the raging sea & the captain's clothes tearing away, he sank close to them and was not seen afterwards.

The Lifeboat returned to the shore about 11.30am, and was received & taken up the beach by about 200 of the inhabitants. Three lives out of four, having been lost. No outburst of feeling was exhibited.  The lad, JOHN NEWMAN, is a native of Wisbech and about 19 years old. He was taken to the Queens Head Inn, Walmer, where he received the kind attention of the landlord, Mr.DAWES, which his circumstances required; and he appears now to have quite recovered from the efforts & the hardships through which he has passed. He has been supplied with comfortable clothing & forwarded to his home at the expense of the owners of the vessel.

This is the first instance of the lifeboat being called into requisition to save life from the Goodwin Sands. The crew speak highly of her good qualities - they say she behaves admirably, and freed herself of the water she shipped almost instantly. The crew have every confidence in her.

3rd August 1859.
A bark, apparently a French vessel, was lost on the Goodwin Sands on Monday night. There is no account of her crew at present. A sail has been landed from her, marked 74,758 'To Bort, Bonnaire & Co. Angiers'. The long boat has since been picked up & brought ashore, and it is supposed the crew have perished.

1860S             1870S             Lost in the Downs             Stormy Weather