Daily Event for September 7, 2014

The paddle steamer SS Forfarshire was built in 1834 by Thomas Adamson of Dundee for the run between Hull and Dundee and was owned by the Dundee & Hull Steam Packet Company. The vessel was 132 feet long and 32 foot in the beam. The Forfarshire departed from Hull on 5th September 1838 bound for Dundee with up to 400 tons of mixed cargo and about 60 crew and passengers on board. The next day, during a storm, her boiler developed a leak and eventually failed to deliver steam to the two 90 HP engines.

The captain, John Humble, raised sail in an attempt to save the ship and headed for shelter. However it is believed he mistook the Longstone light for the Inner Farne light. At about 4am on the 7th September the Forfarshire struck Big Harcar Rock (Great Harcar) about half a mile west of the Longstone light and rapidly broke in two with 48 people still on board.

The wreck was seen by 22 year old Grace Darling who lived at the Longstone light with her family. Her father, William Darling, and Grace launched their 22 foot open coble and, during the storm, rowed almost a mile to the wreck. Between them and some survivors of the steamship, nine people were saved and taken to the Longstone lighthouse. For this heroic rescue both Grace and her father were each awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Humane Society and the Silver Medal of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Grace Darling was born on the 24th November 1815 in a cottage in the village of Bamburgh, Northumberland. Four years after the Forfarshire was wrecked, Grace died of tuberculosis on 20th October 1842 at the tender age of only 26 years. Grace was buried in the family grave in churchyard of St Aidan's Church, Banburgh, Northumberland. In 1844 a monument which overlooks the Farne Islands was erected in the churchyard.
© 2014 Philip J. Heydon, I.S.M.

The Grace Darling Memorial. (More photos of the memorial shown here.)
(Photo courtesy of Kathy Hughes)
© 2014 Kathy Hughes all rights reserved

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