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Grace Darling

Royal National Lifeboat Institution Awards

DARLING, WILLIAM. Lighthouse Keeper Silver Medal


Grace Darling
7th.September 1838. The weather in the North Sea was dark and stormy when early on the 6th.September, the 270 ton paddle steamer 'Forfarshire' developed boiler trouble off Flamborough Head Yorkshire. She was on passage, with cargo and 63 people aboard, between Hull and Dundee and, under the tyranny of her timetable, her Master decided to press on rather than make for Shields. Later in the day the weather worsened to one of the most violent storms experienced up to then on the north-east coast, so a defective boiler was brought back into use. Operating conditions on board deteriorated until, at 1 a.m. on the 7th. The engine stopped and off St. Abb's Head, the sails with which the ship was equipped were set but she was still blown ashore.

The Master made for shelter but, in spite of dropping anchor the ship went on to the Harcar Rocks on Inner Farne Island off Bambrough, Northumberland, with her bows completely crumpled in. Eight of the crew and a passenger got away in a boat to be picked up 24 hours later, but the steamer broke in two very soon afterwards with only seven passengers and six of the crew left alive. During the night two children and two men died from exposure and, at dawn the nine survivors crept on to the rocks. Their plight was seen Miss Dowling from the Longstone Lighthouse, a mile away on Farne (or Houss) Island. With her father, William, she put off in the coble and rowed through the howling gale, the boiling seas tossing them about like a cork. Reaching the rocks where the seas were surging over the survivors, William jumped ashore, leaving his daughter to manage the boat single handed. Five survivors were taken back to the lighthouse where Grace tended them, while her father and two of the men returned to bring off the other four. The ferocity of the weather was such that two days were to elapse before the survivors could be taken to the mainland.

0 Comments · 21877 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on June 28 2007


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