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Wreck of the Trio

The Swedish barque Trio was built in 1868 by G Scotte at Procida, Italy as Profirio di Martino. By the time of her demise she was owned by Manfred Nilsson of Calmer. He was also the Master of the vessel when she was wrecked.

Eight glass plate slides (two almost identical) and a description of the end of the Trio's last voyage, written by Sergeant Parkes, a witness to the event, are in the keeping of Hartlepool Museum at Sir William Gray House.

During ENE gales on Wednesday 13 November 1901 the Trio was seen making for Hartlepool. Just offshore from Seaton Carew bridge she became unmanageable. The lifeboat could not be launched because of the heavy seas & although rockets were fired they fell short of their target. Between 3.30 & 4.10 pm, in front of hundreds of people, she broke amidships throwing her cargo of coal into the air. Miraculously three of her crew of ten were pulled from the water alive by local people wading into the boiling surf. In the days that followed dolls & toys that the seamen were taking home for Xmas washed ashore along with the wreckage.

Two of the rescuers were William Grainger & Alfred Gales.

Northern Daily Mail – Thursday 14 November 1901:

THE WRECK OF THE TRIO. LIFEBOATMEN CRITICISED. The wreck at West Hartlepool yesterday turned out to be the most distressing occurrence that the inhabitants of this part of the coast have witnessed for many years. In the presence of thousands of people the Swedish barque Trio went to pieces, and only three of the crew ten were saved. There seems to be strong consensus of opinion among the teeming thousands who saw these men perish that much more might have been attempted than was attempted. Whilst the lifeboats on every other part of the Coast were out during the greater part of the day those responsible for the management of the West Hartlepool lifeboat did not see the necessity of launching her till the Trio had practically gone to pieces. Lifeboats have been launched in the teeth of a gale heavier than that yesterday afternoon, and it would be very interesting to know the precise reasons for the at present unaccountable delay putting the local boat into the water. It was obviously not impossible to row the lifeboat when she was in the water, or why was she launched at all? We cannot for a moment imagine that our local lifeboatmen declined to face the risk. If they had exhibited any cowardice in the matter why were not volunteers called for as in the case of wreck in exactly the same spot some 30 years ago? On that occasion the regular occupants of the boat refused to go out with her, and a crew consisting of men from the ironworks got into the boat and accomplished the work of rescue. If it is objected that the boat cannot be launched with any hope of success in a gale like that of yesterday, then what on earth is the use of having a boat at all? Surely it cannot be maintained merely for ornamental purposes in order to make a fine show at the lifeboat demonstration?

Shields Daily Gazette – Saturday 28 December 1901:

THE CHARGE AGAINST LIFE BOAT MEN. Complaint having been made against the West Hartlepool lifeboatmen that, during the recent storm, they did not proceed to the assistance of the barque Trio, which was wrecked, with the loss of seven lives, in view of enormous crowd, the National Lifeboat Institution has held a private inquiry. It is not anticipated that further action will be taken, as the explanations received are said to satisfactory.

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