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Tyne and Wear HER(12949): South Shields, HMS Withrington - Details

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S Tyneside

South Shields, HMS Withrington

South Shields


Maritime Craft






The Withrington was a World War One destroyer of 1120 tons and 312 feet long. She was being towed to the breakers yard on 29th April 1947 when she broke her tow in bad weather and was wrecked on the ballast stones on the bend in the south pier. The substantial remains include the boilers, drive shafts, gears, valves and generators. She is owned by a local diver who still works the wreck (Collings). Steel, 1,325 ton ‘W’ class Royal Navy destroyer, 91.44m long, 8.84m beam, and her two bronze propellers were powered by steam turbines. Built by White at Cowes, Isle of Wight, she was launched on 16 January 1919. The ship had an armament of four 10.2cm (4in) guns and six torpedo tubes. The vessel was one of fifty-six other ships of the ‘W’ class ordered in 1918, but she became redundant, was decommissioned and sold to Metal Industries at Rosyth for breaking. On 29 April 1947, (The History of Cullercoats Lifeboats by Jeff Morris reports this vessel to have come ashore in 1945) the Witherington was being towed from Chatham to Charelstown in the Firth of Forth with a skeleton crew of seven on board, when her tow line parted while off the entrance to the River Tyne. A bitterly cold, gale force west-north-west wind was churning up an extremely heavy, confused sea and blinding snow was being driven across the sea’s surface. The crews were unable to connect her tow line and at 11pm the Witherington was driven against the rocks close to the end of the Tyne’s South pier. The remains of the Witherington are fairly easy to locate as she lies just at the bend, on the seaward side, of the one mile long pier at South Shields, and on the shire (western) side of a pile of huge stone blocks. The vessel soon broke up where she lay, taking the full brunt of winter storms. Even her boilers are now broken open and have smashed in half, along with the rest of the ship. The wreck now belongs to a local ex-diver Gordon Ortie. She now lies at a depth of 12m. Grid reference conversion made 06.12.2010 with with Lat/Long referenced as N 55 00 33 W 01 24 8




Peter Collings, 1991, The New Divers Guide to the North-East Coast, page 30-31; Young, R. (2001) Comprehensive guide to Shipwrecks of the North East Coast (The): Volume Two, Tempus, Gloucestershire. p. 151, Ian T. Spokes Wreck Database, Inga Project, National Monuments Record

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