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Aurora (1883) - a general history

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail, Monday, October 1st, 1883:
CARRIED OUT TO SEA. PERILOUS ADVENTURE OF LOCAL PLEASURE PARTY. Throughout the latter portion of Saturday, and up to yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, a heavy gale from E.N.E. to N.E. prevailed off the Hartlepools, raising a heavy sea in the bay, and at high water on Sunday afternoon the tide was the highest of the present autumn, the sea breaking heavily over the piers, which were buried in foam. A Swedish screw steamer was the only vessel entering the port up to four p.m., and as she entered her progress was watched by hundreds.
On Saturday afternoon a new steamer, the Aurora, belonging to Messrs Ebdy, Blacklin, & Co., of West Hartlepool, went on her trial trip from the Tees with a numerous party on board. It was at the time fair weather, but a gale springing up and rapidly increasing in force during the time the vessel was out, it was found impossible to land the excursionists, and they were compelled to accompany the vessel in a race before the wind.
The Aurora has just been built by Messrs Raylton Dixon & Co., of Middlesbrough, and on Saturday afternoon, with a cargo of 2,303 tons of steel rails, she left for Ancona. It had been arranged that a party of the friends of the owners and builders, as is the custom, should accompany the vessel a few miles and then return on board a steam-tug. Accordingly a party of ladies and gentlemen, numbering something like 50 - about half from Middlesbrough and half from the Hartlepools - went aboard the Aurora and proceeded to sea at half-past one o’clock. Among others were Mr. and Mrs. Ebdy, Captain and Mrs. Blacklin, Mr. Matthew Harrison, Mrs. Barraclough, the Rev. C.E. Palmer and Misses Palmer, Mr J. Hardy, Miss Hardy, Mr. J.W. Carter, Mr. J.C. Coates, Mr. Heslehurst, manager of Messrs. Dixon’s yard, Mrs. Freake, Mr. L.E. Belk, Mr. Muir, the Misses Pape, Miss Nicholson, Miss Jackson, Mr. John Day, Mrs. Thompson (Liverpool), &c.
Shortly before reaching the bar all were requested to adjourn the cabin for lunch, which was provided by Mrs. Howcroft, Station Refreshment Rooms, Middlesbrough, with her usual good taste, and to which ample justice was done, the keen N.E. wind appearing to have sharpened the appetites of those present. About four o'clock the steam-tug Victory went out to bring the party ashore, but was unable to get alongside the steamer, which rolled heavily. There were some on board who enjoyed the prospect of a rocking in the cradle of the deep, although they managed to feign concern and sympathy with the ladies and one or two the more weakly constituted gentlemen whom they observed stealthily creeping to the bulwarks and banging their heads outside, secretly danced with delight at what they termed the fun, wicked men!
And notwithstanding the fact that their absence would occasion their friends on terra firma the greatest anxiety, there were a few who, consoling those who had turned pale at the sight of the retreating steam-tug, used words of a double meaning, which seemed as though they revelled in what they heartlessly termed a joke. Darkness began to creep on, bringing thoughts of cosy pillows at home, and troubles began multiply. The ladies took to the berths, and the gentlemen hid their heads in any corner they could find protection from the winds and waves, which had begun to break over the ship with frightful violence, many getting drenched to the skin. Some the braver ones said they liked it, inasmuch as they had been told they would not take cold after it. However, it became quite evident there was no chance of sleeping at home that night. So the steamer ploughed on, frisking away in front of the wind and proving herself a tight and handy craft. Accommodation was made for the ladies in the saloon berths, and the cabin table was adorned with the recumbent bodies of those gentlemen who were completely tired of walking the decks. One or two kept afoot all the night through, and Captain Blacklin kept his place on the pilot-bridge.
The sea rose still higher during night, and a heavy wave striking her broadside, burst open the port-holes and drenched several ladies through and through. As it became known in the town on Saturday evening that the party had not returned considerable anxiety was felt for their safety, though it must be admitted that the incident was looked upon as having humorous side. The elements had not been made aware that two churches in West Hartlepool would be temporarily maimed through their boisterousness. Christ Church was short of a vicar, a churchwarden, and a not much less important official, the organ blower. Stranton Church was deprived one of its supports —the Vicar’s churchwarden. But it may be that Neptune rejoiced at his own wicked doings and chuckled to himself that he had made a parish’s vicar turn naval chaplain, compelled wardens with their proverbial piety to worship on spray-drenched planks instead of specially upholstered seats, and forced them to attend divine service at which there was no collection. However, he failed for he had made them all too ill to think of service. Christ Church bells rang the Westminster chimes on Sunday morning, but it was late ere the service began. The Rev. F.L. Cope was secured from St. Paul’s for the morning service and the Rev. A. Banton for the evening.
But to return to the ship. The sea moderated during Sunday morning, Neptune having qualms of conscience, so she lay at anchor for some hours, and a tug was hailed. The master of this demanded an exorbitant sum for the release of the party from its situation, which Captain Blacklin declined to pay, but, a second one coming alongside, the trippers were conveyed ashore in four journeys to Grimsby during the afternoon. A number of them remained in Grimsby all night, and will return to-day. A few, however, whose business demanded it travelled northward during the night. No one, happily, is much worse for the adventure, though undoubtedly not a few have resolved, like the man in the pantomime, “We’ll not go to sea any more.” 

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