THE SEA
SHIPWRECKS AND LIFEBOATS
 
9 -11 Victoria Street, Southwold, Suffolk IP18 6HZ - Tel: 01502 726097 email
 
 
Sam May in his hut - Click for more pictures and to read his story
In the beginning
Natural Southwold
Fishing
Transport to Southwold
Southwold at war
Christianity in Southwold
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Southwold the town
Southwold Shops & Trades


 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

If you stand outside Southwold’s Sailors’ Reading Room today and look out to sea, you’ll be lucky to catch sight of a single ship. But for James Maggs, compiling his Southwold diary in 1843, there was “…a fleet of from 7 to 8 hundred sail of vessels appearing between the two Nesses….”


The Southwold Lifeboat, Alfred Corry, in service from 1893 to 1918. Click to read the Alfred Corry story and see a movie of the boat in 1979

...and don't forget to find out about our local hero, Sam May whose picture is top left.

The Alfred Corry Lifeboat in about 1901
 


It’s not surprising then that, over the last four centuries, Southwold’s Sole Bay has seen many hundreds of shipwrecks. Southwold’s coastline isn’t rocky, but the combination of North Sea storms and shifting sands and sandbanks still make it treacherous.

Wrecks have included craft of all sizes: warships, brigs, steampackets, steamers, tugs and many more. In 1672, the huge Royal James went down in the Battle of Sole Bay along with 700 of its crew. 1897 saw the small longshore boat Donnachadh run down by a steamer with the loss of one life.

283 wrecks are recorded in the 19th century. In the 20th century up to 1979, numbers had dropped to 43, as a result of better boats, better skills and improved navigational aids. Loss of life dropped dramatically with the launch of the lifeboat service.

 
 

It was a dark and stormy night

The wreck of the Idun in 1912
Find out about the night Southwold had to cope with two wrecks at once....

And what has this eagle got to do with it? Click the pictures..


Stranded !
Figurehead of the barque, Princess Augusta, wrecked at Southwold in 1838

Thirteen strandings have been recorded on or near Southwold beach since 1842. The London-registered barque Princess Augusta, struck the beach in 1838 opposite Ferry Road. It became a total wreck. In the museum you can see a picture of the ship aground and, if you look at the photo closely, you can just about see its figurehead (above) which is now in the museum.

By the way, If you are interested in figureheads, check out Lucilla!

 

Use the links below to explore Southwold’s other sea stories:.

Coastal erosion - The village that fell into the sea
The Lighthouse - Over a million bricks to save the ships
Southwold’s killer flood of 1953

 
 

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Southwold Museum & Historical Society, 9 -11 Victoria Street, Southwold, Suffolk IP18 6HZ
Tel: 01502 726097 email

A Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Registered Charity No 1159790,