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Wreck of the Thorne

The Departure from Liverpool & The Voyage


The Departure from Liverpool

By Saturday, 11th January the Thorne had taken on a general cargo of 1,200 tons and was ready for sea. On the Monday she was taken in tow by the tugboat the Knight of St John and left Liverpool at noon bound for Adelaide in Australia. She carried a crew of nineteen and had two passengers and was under the command of Captain James Francis W Glazebrook. Her first mate was a Stanley Taggart, a son of the late John Taggart, auctioneer, whose widow lived in Douglas. The second mate was F.E.B. Turner of Liverpool, and the remainder of the crew was made up of the boatswain, the carpenter and eleven able seamen, along with two apprentices and the ship’s boy, making a total of nineteen.

The passengers were Mr Vandalle who was a former manager for the owners and Mr William Pattinson of Drigg, Cumberland who had been employed by the Cumberland Bank in Whitehaven, and who was travelling to Australia for reasons of health.

Her cargo was said to consist of "..several hundred cases of spirits - Roderick Dhu whisky, and brandy; a quantity of bar iron; a great number of grinding stones; crates of crockery; a quantity of linen, blankets, flannel and silk; a large number of tins of cured fish; coils of barbed wire, and a good many reels of paper for web printing machines..". With this cargo aboard the Thorne’s draught was seventeen feet four inches.

The Voyage

At the start of the voyage the weather was clear and the tow was continued to a point 25 miles south west of Holyhead. The weather began to deteriorate and the wind strengthened to a strong south-west gale, or what today would be described as a severe gale with winds of between 41 and 47 knots. In view of this, it was decided to go to Holyhead for shelter and they arrived there around five o’clock in the evening. By the following morning, Tuesday, there was an improvement in the weather, a wind shift and the barometer was rising.

At eight in the morning the tug towed the Thorne out of Holyhead and the tow was continued until into the afternoon of the Tuesday, or until the morning of the Wednesday, accounts vary in this respect. By this time the wind had gone back to the south west and was described as a strong breeze which is force 6 on the Beaufort scale with speeds of 22 to 27 knots. The master kept as near as he could to the Irish coast for shelter, and for the remainder of that day, and on the two following days, the Thorne was beating about, trying to make to windward but without success. By the Friday the wind had increased to hurricane force.

The Thorne was on her beam ends but she lost only her foretopmast staysail. She was, however, labouring heavily and shipping large quantities of water and the crew were at work night and day. On Saturday the 18th the master decided to make for Holyhead to seek shelter. The Thorne’s position at that stage is not known but The Manx Sun records that Capt Glazebrook failed "to fetch" Holyhead and he is also on record as stating that he tried to make Holyhead by keeping the vessel up to the wind but he did not succeed and the vessel made leeway. From these facts it might be estimated that when the decision was made to make for Holyhead the barque was between Drogheda and Holyhead.

Six days out of Liverpool and despite the assistance of a tug the Thorne had been driven back and was north of that port. Capt Glazebrook was unable to get a tug or to sight any homeward bound large steamers to take him in. The failure to reach the safety of Holyhead meant that the Thorne was in danger of being driven onto the Cumberland coast or into Morecambe Bay. Capt. Glazebrook decided to make for the Isle of Man.