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Sowerby - a general history

Official No. 78422: Code Letters SGWC.

Owners: 1878 Robert Morton Middleton & Co. West Hartlepool: 1887 R. Ropner & Co, West Hartlepool.

Masters: 1879 Porter; 1880-82 W Lynas: 1883-85 JB Millard: 1885-89 RH Doddridge: 1890-91 J Lawrie: 1892 DL Shield: 1897 George Gill.

Voyages: In April 1881 she was sailing from Malta for Bremen.

Bound from Pitea for Umea & Paimboeu with a cargo of timber Sowerbywas wrecked in the Gulf of Bothnia on 28 October 1897. No lives lost.

Northern Daily Mail 6 November 1897:

‘Mr George Gill, captain of the screw, steamer Sowerby, one of Messrs Ropner & Co’s boats, that was lost on the 28th ult off the Swedish coast, arrived home in West Hartlepool late last night. The crew are not local but some of the officers belong to the town. Mr Wherritt, the chief officer, is a native of West Hartlepool. The chief engineer, Mr Clem Minto, is well known at Hartlepool, although Yankee by birth. The second engineer, Mr Newman, is connected with the Newmans of Lynn Street, West Hartlepool. The second mate lives at Sunderland. A Mail man had a talk with Captain Gill this afternoon. He said that Sowerby took out a pilot from Harno, at the entrance to Hernosand on the evening of the 27th. The vessel was laden with deals, battens & boards & was bound for a French port in the Bay of Biscay. About noon the next day they passed the Grundkelle lightship & then shaped a course for the Understen lighthouse. The siren of the lighthouse was heard, & it appears that mistaking this for the siren of a steamer, there being a similarity in some cases, although on this point it is not possible to speak without some caution, had something to do with the vessel being steered with a view to clear the supposed steamer. Shortly after the look-out man reported rocks ahead. The helm was starboarded to pass the rocks, but the vessel did not do so. She struck on the port side & slid up the face of the rock. The steamer also listed to port. There was deep water astern. The lighthouse people & others came down to see what was the matter & subsequently the captain sent away the chief mate, three men, & a man from the island in one of the boats belonging to the island, to the mainland some dozen or more miles away, for assistance. The captain & three men stayed behind, but had to leave the vessel at about eight o’clock that evening owing to the water coming in in great volume. It was dark when the men left. They had little shelter & were somewhat surprised at the inhospitable reception of the people on the island. On the 29th after they had been 15 or 16 hours on the island, a Government steamer came & took them off.’

Crew October 1897:

Minto, Clem, chief engineer, b. USA resided Hartlepool

Newman 2nd engineer, West Hartlepool

Wherritt, chief officer, West Hartlepool

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