Friday, 1 April 2011


                            Stanhope  1882 to 1900

This is a wreck we have been diving since 1999 (year now 2011).  It has become one of our favourites, nicknamed the Arse End, as that was where we first landed on the wreck all those years ago.

The stern was still intact and it was possible to squeeze in on the starboard side by rolling in sideways.  This has now collapsed.

We have been collecting data since 1999, with nothing really coming to light to name her.  The wreck team have measured her, listed how many boilers she has, and listed the engine configuration.  A door lock was found and researched by Derrick Scott, which was a shifting bolt of French design, made by H. J. Owen of Birmingham.

  In 2010 Rob King found a boiler tile, made by Thomas Peak & Co. of Watergate Street, Tunstall, near Trent and Mersey canal.  This was a bit of a breakthrough as it had the words “Trade Mark”, which was not used until 1875.  So the ship was built after 1875.
 I had been collecting coins, mainly pennies, over the years from my secret penny spot.  The latest date on them is 1898.  So she sank on, or after, this date, 1898.
 She also has a very broken bow, as though she was in a collision.  With these clues and an approximate length and width, we have concluded the following:

Built after 1875.
Lost around 1898.
Lost in a collision.
She is quite an old wreck, probably pre WW1 or beginning of WW1.
A loss with two boilers and a two cylinder engine, in the vicinity or area local to wreck site.

The Hydrographic Office had her as a possible Inger.   This was not possible as the boiler tile was English.  Not to mention that Jerry Keen has evidence of the Inger being off to the East.

This was where we were after 12 years until, on a videoing dive to collect data, I bumped into the helm.  How we had never found it before I can’t tell you.  A quick inspection and it was nice and brassy, and definetly a helm.
A couple more visits were made to check the immediate area for clues and have a closer look at the helm for information.  On cleaning around the centre boss, we realised there was something written on it.  With more cleaning and rubbing Rob King and I were trying to read what it was: not as easy as first thought, as it was upside down and near another bit of wreckage.  By the end of the dive we had decided it said “Ship Builders, Irvine & Co, West Hartlepool”.

We spent the journey back to shore, and packing the boat away before a couple of beers, guessing what wreck it was.  The computer was booted up and we started checking the guessed wrecks.  The Stanhope was one of them. It all fitted.

I wanted to make sure the engine configuration was right before we got too carried away, so Rob posted up the wreck videos on the club blog and I gave John Liddiard a mail to ask him if he would have a look for me.  He had dived the wreck a few years ago and had asked if I knew anything about it.  His reply was “two cylinder compound engine”.

We now had:

A ship built after 1875
Lost around 1898
Lost in a collision
Had two boilers and a two cylinder compound engine.
Built by Irvine & Co., West Hartlepool.

Details of the Stanhope:

Built 1882
Lost 16/03/1900
Lost in a collision with the schooner, Coal Tar.
Had two boilers.
Two cylinder compound engine.
Built by Irvine & Co., West Hartlepool.
Owned by English & Co., Middlesbrough.
Approximate position of loss reported 6miles south east of Beachy Head.

Just for good measure, we trawled through Lloyds Losses looking at vessels built by Irvine & Co. lost in this area.  Two were found: one has been named; and the other has the wrong engine layout.

With all the evidence we are quite sure she is the Stanhope, but a close eye will be kept for further clues on future dives.

Researched and written by Jamie Smith.

This brings the total number of wrecks named by Tunbridge Wells Sub Aqua club to 7, with 5 named in four years.
Watch this space…….

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.