Saturday, 2 April 2011

SS Newent


The SS Newent is known locally as the Mid Surrey.  She was built in 1882 by Short Brothers of Sunderland (yard number 134).  She was a cargo ship, weighing 994 gross tons.
She was lost in a collision with the Norwegian bark, INGA, on 13 February 1909 while on passage from Southampton to Blyth in ballast.  She had a crew of 16.
The wreck of the SS Newent is an old favourite of TWSAC.  She is uncharted and sits in a hole near the UB 130, due south of Beachy Head.  She lies at a depth of 36 meters at low water.
One of our divers found a engine makers  plate on her.  She has a two cylinder compound engine and a single big boiler and three, possibly 4, holds.
Clues found
Marmalade jar
Port holes
Boiler brick, with the maker’s name “Lily”
Single boiler and two cylinder engine.
Three bladed prop, approximately 11.5 - 12 foot across.
Engine maker’s plate.
Originally we thought the wreck could be of one of the following:
Robertingham: built 1871, lost 1902, length 68.42 meters
Horst Martini: built 1883, lost 1915, length 65.68 meters
James Groves: built 1871, lost 1876, length 63.34 meters
Garran Tower: built 1876, lost 1890, length 54.86 meters
All four ships have the same engine and boiler lay out.
The Horst Martini was closest in age to the engine, which was built by John Dickinson in 1882, in Leith. So, would the engine have been shipped from Sunderland to Leith, where the Horst Martini was built?
A breakthrough came when one of our divers, Iain, went online and found the website of Peter Searle, an expert on Sunderland shipbuilding, who lives in Toronto, Canada.  Together, they narrowed down the list of ships that the wreck could be.  Iain posted a request for help on a forum on and this is where he got a result.  He was told the Starke / Schell merchant vessel listing showed that the engine had been in the SS Newent.

Extract from a report in the "Victoria Daily Colonist", states that:
"Underwriters held the view that she was sunk by a collision with the Norwegian bark "INGA" off of Beachy Head. The INGA had reported serious damage by collision with an unknown steamer of Beachy Head on Febuary 13th 1909, at a time at which, on the ordinary course of her voyage the NEWENT would have been in the vicinity.
With no bad weather to account for her loss, this appears to be the only reasonable solution of her disappearance of the NEWENT. she carried a crew of 16."

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