From Old LaF 8 February 2013

Photographer unknown, 8 Feb 1932, courtesy Martin Douglas (cutting from unknown newspaper)

The following account of the Hull trawler Johannesburg’s encounter with the Brigg is reproduced by the kind permission of Tony Green, Filey Bay Research Group.

This vessel was a steam trawler of Hull owned by W Normandale of Scarborough and although the vessel was saved, the circumstances surrounding this incident are worthy of note. 

On 8th February 1932 at 6:30am the Johannesburg came ashore on the north side of Filey Brigg, at 6:35am the Coastguard reported the wreck and at 7:30am the Coxswain of the Filey Lifeboat reported to the Honorary Secretary of the Filey Lifeboat Station, Charles Burgess, that the sea was “very rough” on the north of Filey Brigg. Accordingly the Lifeboat, the Hollon the Third was launched shortly afterwards. 

Exactly why the lifeboat came back at 9:15 is unclear but it went again at 1pm as the sea was getting worse and tried to get the men off but they would not come off the vessel. The Coxswain of the Filey Lifeboat signalled to the Coastguard at 2 pm for the Scarborough Lifeboat to attend and assist and it was launched and arrived on scene at 3:20pm, however at 3pm the men on board the Johannesburg decided that they wanted to come off and “with great danger and difficulty” the lifeboat got them at 3:30. 

The rescued crew consisted of 8 crewmen of the Johannesburg and 20 Filey fishermen who had got aboard and could not get back to their cobles due to the “strong gale and very heavy sea”. The Honorary Secretary watched the incident and reported thus – “I watched through my telescope and it was very well done and the danger was very great, every minute from 3 to 2:30 I thought the boat would roll over”. He then went on to report that the rescued consisted of “Crew 8, Pirates 20 about” which perhaps gives an indication of why the Filey fishermen were present on the wreck! 

The wreck slipped of the rocks after the men were taken off her and the Scarborough lifeboat put three men aboard of her who cut her cables and towed the vessel into Filey Bay where she was beached for repairs, it was reported that “it is full of water and sand”. 

The written accounts of the day do not always do justice to the danger that the Lifeboat Crews were exposed to or the difficulties and hardships that they endured. The Honorary Secretary’s account above however is the closest description that we are likely to see to a daring rescue and it must be borne in mind that the Filey boat had no engine and relied on traditional sail and oar and sheer good seamanship. 

An indication of how bad the conditions were can be seen in the entry in the records enquiring about damage to the boat which reads, “2 oars lost – sail slightly damaged”.

There are photographs of the trawler on Filey Sands and berthed in Scarborough on Wreck Site.)

Johannesburg  (H711) was built in 1902/3 for the Hull Steam Fishing & Ice Company and sold on to William Normandale in 1932. The following year she was re-named and re-registered as Nordale SH89.

In September 1935 Nordale offered a tow to the trawler Skegness, which had hit the rocks beneath the Speeton/Bempton cliffs. This was declined and a tragedy ensued. In March 1937 Nordale was moored in Scarborough Harbourwhen her radio operator picked up an SOS from Lord Ernle and passed it to the Harbourmaster.

Nordale was bought and sold several times between 1938 and 1941 and, after playing bit parts in the tragedies of others, took centre stage when her own luck ran out on 15th January 1942.

At 6.20 p.m. steaming at about eight knots [she] struck the Carskey Rocks on [the] tip of Kintyre 2 miles SW of Borgadelmore Point, bumping once violently then two more bumps before stopping and settling firmly about 100 yds from the cliffs.

(Source: Wreck Site.)


I only had three or four hours to work on Anniversary People today and hit the rocks with the first two. The PINDER and HOLMES families that produced Frank (born 1895) and Susannah (baptised 1857) needed a lot of attention if I was to reconcile FG&C with the FamilySearch Shared Tree.

Frank is the son of Jane Pinder.

Susannah on the Shared Tree.

Below – Susannah and her siblings on the Shared Tree, FG&C and in the GRO Births Index.


1985 Coalbrookdale


In the dream, I had opened a shop selling prints in some dusty, hot place. Walking up to the shop (on opening day?) I saw a line of people in the street and up the wooden outside stairs. I pushed past. In my gallery the walls were bare… The room was dense with smoke. The floor was littered with dark-skinned people smoking ganja (?). “All your pickchers sold, man.” Rastas apart, it must’ve been Australia (from the Morris West novel which is bedtime reading)…

The Severn Way is a dreary track, especially cycling into sleet. Crossed my mind that humping a camera to work on such a morning would be a total waste of time. But then the sleet turned to snow. While I slowly put together the bones of a darkroom I could see it swirling, almost horizontally, across the windows for several hours. By the time the poor little Roadline Man came with the Morsø, it was two inches deep. And the Gorge transformed into a place of astonishing beauty.

The lorry driver had “got stuck” three times already and wouldn’t risk descending the ramps into Maw’s main yard. He slipped as we eased the crate over the tailgate and the crash set the machine’s springs vibrating loudly. He managed to heave the crate onto his barrow but, looking down the slope, said “This isn’t going to work.” Two boys came round the corner with a plastic toboggan. “Maybe we could borrow that.” (He wasn’t joking.) I suggested we just toboggan the crate as it was. From the bottom, he barrowed it the rest of the way and we hauled it up the steps into the workshop. I removed the top when he’d gone. Beautiful machine. Half-past three. Decided to go home.

Earlier, while going about my crude carpentry, I saw something fall from the electric meter, heard a light slap. A butterfly, which seemed to be dead. Moments later another fell. This one started to walk, groggily, towards the fan heater. At the step it paused for several minutes, basking in the warmth, wings fluttering in the blast of air. It then set off for a walk along the timber, back across the floor to perch on the leg of the stool. False spring. Outside the blizzard raged. Wondered how many of the moths and butterflies I’d swept up in the past few days had been sleeping, not dead.

Beach 157 · Muston Sands

Speeton Cliffs