Atlantic Rescue

In the winter of 1822, storms and heavy gales out at sea took their toll of shipping and many losses were reported in the press. The brig Lester of Poole had set sail for Newfoundland on 11th October and had reached longitude 38.00 (well over half way in her voyage) when she encountered heavy gales and tremendous seas. For several days she continued beating to windward until 17th November when she sprung her bowsprit and split the sails. The master John Lander decided that there was no alternative but to turn back to Poole.

Another ship embarking on a north Atlantic voyage was the brig Mary Ann of Aberdeen which set sail from Quebec on 4th November bound for London. On Saturday 23rd November, the vessel met a severe gale and struggled on under reefed sails. Around 5 o’clock in the evening, the wildly veering ship was hit by a tremendous wave which carried away the main mast and swept her decks of ‘boats, bulwarks and every thing standing’. Captain Moore who had been at the helm was also swept overboard and drowned. Desperately clearing away the wreckage of the mast, the crew discovered that the decks were damaged and the ship was half full of water. Pumping made no impression and within an hour the vessel was totally water-logged.

The following day the situation worsened as the decks broke up and the cargo, which was mainly staves, began to wash out of the hold. By now the decks were below the surface and the mate, eleven seamen and a boy called Davidson made for the foretop, their only possible refuge. In the process, the boy was swept away and lost but the others succeeded in reaching temporary safety. Their situation however was dire. They had no water and only a few biscuits, enough for half a biscuit each for a couple of days. By Wednesday 27th November, after three days and nights, they had run out of food and just about any hope of rescue. It was then that they were spotted by the Lester on its homeward course.

The hull of the Mary Ann was totally submerged and it was something of a miracle that the crew of the Lester chanced to see her remaining mast sticking out of the water. As they sailed closer they could see the survivors still clinging on. Captain Lander resolved to save them if he could, and set about what must have been a most perilous rescue mission, given the hazardous motion of the water-logged vessel in the heavy seas and the damage already suffered by the Lester. Somehow, all twelve men were helped from the mast and transferred to the Poole ship where ‘every assistance and comfort was given them’.

The Lester reached Poole on 1st December bringing the news of the wreck and recovery. Their arrival happened to coincide with the launch in Poole of the Sailors’ Union Bethel Society, an organisation founded by the Rev. George Charles Smith, known as Bo’sun Smith. Its aim was to provide religious services and spiritual support for seamen in port. Locally the Society had the support of the Independent and Baptist churches and it was in the Baptist Chapel that the first service was held on Wednesday 4th December before a gratifyingly large congregation which included the surviving crew of the Mary Ann. During the service the Aberdeen men send a written paper to the minister asking for a public thanksgiving for their deliverance ‘in a period of the most desperate peril’.

Later, the Poole Bethel Society gave an award of humanity to Captain Lander and his crew and the owners of the Mary Ann, John Catto, Son and Co. of Aberdeen, sent 20 guineas to be divided amongst them for their exertions ‘to snatch these poor fellows from the billows which threatened every moment to overwhelm them’. A silver cup was also sent to Captain Lander from the owners, engraved with the following inscription: ‘A Tribute from the OWNERS of the BRIG MARY ANN of Aberdeen TO CAPTN JOHN LANDER of the LESTER of POOLE as a testimony of their regard for his Humane & Meritorious exertions in saving from the foretop of the wreck of the Mary Ann in the Atlantic TWELVE OF HER UNFORTUNATE CREW on the 27th November 1822’.

John Lander continued sailing from Poole as a master mariner and eventually became Harbour Master. His death in 1854 at the age of 68 was reported in the Poole and Dorset Herald for 15th June of that year. The same issue also contained an account of the wreck of the Aldebaran of Poole on a voyage to Quebec with the loss of seven men, another reminder of the perilous lives of seamen in the age of sailing ships.

Jenny        Main sources – Salisbury and Winchester Journal 9th Dec 1822, 27th Jan 1823, Bell’s Weekly Messenger 8th Dec 1822, Sunday Times 15th Dec 1822, Poole and Dorset Herald 15th June 1854.

Gold, Oak and Adventure – News from the Museum

News of a few current happenings at Poole Museum might cheer the gloomy days of winter. The first is a free talk at the Museum on 25th February at 2.00pm by David Dawson of the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes. Gold from the Time of Stonehenge will outline the story of the World Heritage Site and its ritual landscape and feature the remarkable craftsmanship of objects found in the burials of chieftains, important women and priests who used the area for their ceremonies. Many of the objects discussed are on display at the Wiltshire Museum, home of the best Bronze Age collections in Britain. Booking is essential. To secure your place, please contact: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk and search under Poole.

Books for Boys: Heroism, Empire and Adventure at the Dawn of the First World War is a new exhibition running at the Museum until Sunday 23rd April which celebrates a golden age of books for children in the decades leading up to the war. In particular, it considers the influence of the stories of the time on the young men who so readily volunteered in 1914. There is also a special event for World Book Day on 3rd March. For more details see: http://www.poolemuseum.co.uk/whats-on/exhibitions .

mermanLastly – it’s back! The rudder of the Swash Channel wreck has returned to Poole from its conservation process in York and is now installed in the Museum. I would like to say it’s impossible to miss but actually that’s exactly what I did, wandering past it with my mind on something else. The massive piece of oak stands on the ground floor near the entrance, opposite the log boat. With a cross section of about 48cm x 34cm and a height of 4m to 5m, its top is above first floor level. Also on display nearby is a carving of a merman from above one of the gun ports of the vessel. This is a strangely androgynous figure with the body of a mermaid and the head of a man with beard, moustache and helmet, just one of a number of carvings retrieved from the wreck site.

rudder-head-1Looking down at the rudder from the first floor you get a better impression of the sheer size of the vessel, and yet this is only a section of the piece. The whole rudder is nearly twice as tall at over 8m. The most striking feature, however, is the larger than life-sized carved head on the top. The face is of a man of middle years, bold and tough, with the flamboyant moustache and long curls of the period and his eyes rolled upwards as if scanning the sails and the sky. It’s tempting to think that it might be the portrait of a real person, perhaps the Dutch owner of the ship, revealed once more after lying on the bottom of the sea, staring blindly out for nearly 400 years.

For more about the ship, see ‘Poole and the Swash Channel Wreck’ on this blog.

Jenny

Poole Plaques – How Unfortunate was Monmouth?

alcatraz-plaqueThe number of information plaques in Poole has multiplied recently, giving our next speaker, Steve Roberts, quite a challenge in tackling the subject at his talk on 15th February. The latest crop of bright blue discs adds to the many types and styles of plaques already in existence. In fact the more you look, the more you find. They are mounted on walls and buildings, set into the pavement, on posts and plinths, indoors and outdoors. Some are made of stone, some of metal, ceramic tiles, wood or plastic. A purist might wish that they were all of one style but I think that would be a shame because the style of the plaque says as much about the time they were put up as the subject they are commemorating.

welcome-signSome are consciously antique in style, like the one recording the visit of Charles II in 1665 or the one on the old library. Others are contemporary like the tiled ‘Welcome to Poole’ signs and the decorative plaques round the walls of the Civic Centre which evoke the 1930s. The oldest one I could find is the one on the Guildhall which presumably dates from 1761 and is very much of its period which we are told was during ‘the mayoralty of George Wefton Efquire’. One or two are hard to read like the Sea Music sign which I believe is due to be splendidly restored.  The Overlord plaque on the Custom House is classic and restrained while the 1994 plaque further down the Quay also commemorating D-Day is abstract and artistic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wording on the signs is also diverse and interesting. Some are technical ‘. . note the eye-bolt terminals’ or rather convoluted ‘. . . which formerly ran through this point in a direction slightly north of west to the shore.’ There are unexpected nuggets of information: ‘. . . these 83 foot boats, made entirely of wood . .’ or ‘. . . the crew was taken by horse brake to their station at Sandbanks, which is now the site of the Royal Motor Yacht Club’. One plaque is in Latin and another quotes from a document dating from 1579. Some are poetical: ‘. . . a time to love and a time to hate, a time of war and a time of peace’ or religious ‘. . . suffered six months’ imprisonment for conscience sake’. Some express themselves in a way we would not choose today: ‘. . . devoted to the use of the poor for 500 years’ and some allow a little partisan feeling to creep in: ‘King Charles II and unfortunate Duke of Monmouth . . .’.

Mixed bag or not, the streets of Poole are richer for their plaques and I am looking forward to finding out more about them.

Jenny

 

Sea Music Double Bill

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASea Music, Poole’s remarkable and sometimes controversial 35 ft. sculpture by Sir Anthony Caro, is now 25 years old so it seems a suitable time to take stock. With the help of money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Sea Music Project has been set up to assess, renovate and celebrate the work. One question is how the metal sculpture has fared physically after 25 years of salty winds and sea spray. Can the base and upper platforms of the sculpture be improved along the lines that Sir Anthony himself proposed? What has Sea Music meant to local people over the years and how best can Poole’s association with the work be celebrated? You can find out more about these and other questions at the talk by Melinda McCheyne, the Project Manager (Wednesday 18th January 7.30pm at Poole Museum).

sm-display-2Also not to be missed is the exhibition on Sea Music at the Museum (Floors 1 and 2) which is running until 22nd January. The Floor 2 gallery deals with how the sculpture was made, the involvement of local people, its physical condition and plans for the future. There is also a filmed discussion featuring arts journalist, Alastair Sooke about the creation and significance of the work, revealing, among other details, how Caro was making small changes even as the sculpture was being erected on the Quay. In the Floor 1 gallery is a lively display of works created by fine art, photography and costume students from Bournemouth and Poole College, taking Sea Music as their inspiration.

sm-costumePoole is lucky to boast a work by such a distinguished artist and one which was designed specifically for the site. Having reached its quarter century, has Sea Music earned its place on the Quay and in the history of the town?

Quiz solution

How far did you get with the answers to the quiz? Here is the solution and I hope it all works!

Connections

  1. Bus routes from Poole and their destinations.
  2. Four Marys: Mary Anning (fossil hunter) / Lady Mary Bankes (defender of Corfe Castle) / Mary Llewellin (first female mayor of Poole) / Mary Spencer Watson (sculptor of Dunshay).
  3. Inaccurate place names: Isle of Purbeck (not an island) / Maiden Castle (not a castle) / Luckford lake (not a lake) / Nine Barrow Down (has more than 9 barrows).
  4. Shopping centres: Castlepoint / Dolphin Centre / Sovereign Centre / Brewery Square.

conns-sequs

Sequences

  1. Christopher Spurrier, 1816 (owners of Upton House in reverse date order).
  2. Crawford (Tarrant villages in sequence eg. Tarrant Rawston, Tarrant Rushton etc.).
  3. Falkland Square (eg.) (Places and buildings named after national events in successive centuries).
  4. Picture of house boat (eg.) (Market Street / Street light / Lighthouse / House ?).

Connecting Wall

  1. GORSE DODDER LING BRACKEN (heathland plants)
  2. THICKFURZE HAM HAVEN TOTTENHAM (old forms of local place names: Heckford, Hamworthy, Sandbanks, Tatnam).
  3. FLAKE JIGGER QUINTAL TRAIN (Newfoundland salt-cod trade terms: a flake was a platform for drying cod, a jigger was a weighted fish hook, a quintal was a measure of salt fish, about a hundredweight and train was train oil or cod liver oil.
  4. WOOD POUND HENGIST BAD (add  …bury to get four ancient sites, Woodbury, Poundbury etc.)

wall

Missing Vowels

  1. Mottos: Who’s Afear’d? / Ad Morem Villae de Poole / Pulchritudo et Salubritas / For Fidelity and Freedom.
  2. Live entertainment: The air show / Poole Pirates / Beach polo / Boo Bamboo.
  3. Reading matter: Daily Echo / (A) good book / Poole Advertiser / social media.
  4. Poole pub crawl: Angel / Butler and Hops / Bermuda Triangle / Blue Boar.

Jenny

Easy Peasy or Google Buster? Clues by order of the Quiz Wizard

WizardDid you find the Christmas quiz ridiculously easy or fiendishly hard? I must say that by the time it was compiled I no longer had any idea which it might be. Anyway, I have had notification from the Chief Christmas Quiz Wizard that I must issue some clues to help anyone whose quizzing faculties have been weakened by turkey, pudding, chocolate or alcoholic beverages. So here are the clues and in line with the pantomime season they are of course in rhyme. Sorry about that!

  • My connections to unravel
  • Choose a public form of travel.
  • Try the shops in each location.
  • Give four ladies admiration,
  • But these local places rated
  • You might find not quite as stated.
  • Sequences their clues deliver
  • Following the winding river,
  • Old events commemorated,
  • Owners of a mansion, dated,
  • Phrases over-lapped deduced
  • And the final clue produced.
  • In the wall, four names discover
  • And their modern forms recover.
  • All around, four more are growing
  • With some salt-cod terms worth knowing.
  • Use the final four remaining –
  • Bury-ed, ancient sites obtaining.

Enlightened or further mystified? Some or all answers to Jenny at j.oliver48@btinternet.com . Answers will be supplied next week. Happy New Year.

Jenny

 

 

Dorset & Poole ‘Only Connect’ Quiz 2016

dolphin-centre-father-christmasOnce again it’s time for you to rack your brains on our Christmas quiz (but not as much as I’ve racked mine trying to compile it!). Glory, and maybe a little prize as well, awaits anyone who can come up with a correct solution, so why not have a go between the Christmas festivities? Answers will be released in January.

Connections – Can you resolve these local clues and say what connects them?

  1. Kinson 14 / Bournemouth 16 / Lytchett Matravers 10 / Bournemouth 32
  2. M. A., hunter / M. B., defender / M. L., mayor / M. S-W., artist
  3. Isle of Purbeck / Maiden Castle / Luckford Lake / Nine Barrow Down
  4. connections

Sequences – Three clues: what should come next and why?

  1. Poole Corporation 1961 / Llewellin 1901 / Doughty 1828 / ?
  2. Rawston / Rushton / Keyneston / ?
  3. 17th – Royal Oak Tavern / 18th – Port Mahon Castle Inn / 19th – Waterloo Road / ?
  4. sequences

Connecting wall – Can you sort the words into 4 groups and say what connects the words in each group?sequences

Missing vowels – Identify the words or phrases by replacing the missing vowels.

  1. Mottos:     WHS FRD / DMR MVL LDPL / PLCH RTDTS LBRTS / FRF DLT    YNDF RDM
  2. Live entertainment:     THRS HW / PLP RTS / BCHPL / BBMB
  3. Reading matter:          DL YCH / GDBK / PLD VRT SR / SC LMD
  4. Poole pub crawl:         NGL / BTL RN DHPS / BRM DTRN GL / BLBR

Good luck and have a happy Christmas.  Jenny