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Tyne and Wear HER(12960): Tynemouth, Firelight (Rookwood) - Details

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N Tyneside

Tynemouth, Firelight (Rookwood)



Maritime Craft

Transport Vessel

Cargo Vessel

Early Modern



A British merchant ship of 1143 tons. Torpedoed on 1st May 1917, one and 3/4 miles east of the north pier. N55 01 20 W001 21 00. Steel, 1,143-ton, 71.93m long, 9.73m beam, 4.49m draught, British steamship registered in London. She was owned at the time of loss by The Gas Light & Coke Co. and built as the Rookwood in1896 by J. Bulmer & Co. Ltd at Sunderland. Her single steel propeller was powered by a three-cylinder, triple-expansion steam engine using two boilers and her machinery was built by J. Dickinson & Sons Ltd at Sunderland. She had one deck, four watertight bulkheads and a superstructure consisting of a 5.5m quarter-deck, 22.6m bridge-deck and a 7.9m forecastle. On the morning of 1st May 1917, the Firelight had just left the river Tyne and was on passage to London with a cargo of coal, when she was torpedoed and sunk by the submerged German submarine UC29. The track of the torpedo was seen by the crew just prior to it striking amidships on her port side at 08:25. However even before her crew, who immediately abandoned ship in their own boats, had left the vessel, the sea was washing over the upper deck. The U-boat’s periscope was seen for a short-time after the ship went down and the survivors were later picked up by the steamship Collingwood and landed at North Shields. The wreck, believed to be that of the Firelight, lies orientated in a north-east to south-west direction on a seabed of dirty sand, stone and colliery waste in a general depth of 36m. She is sitting upright, fairly intact and standing up to 9m high, but with quite a bit of damage to the bow section at the south-western end. The highest part is said to be the stern to midships section where a number of portholes are visible, all of which is covered in soft corals. Sections of the bridge structure, although partially collapsed, are reported to be still in reasonable condition. It is not known if her bell and equipment have been recovered. The NMR has another entry for the Firelight under South Tyneside 908653, NZ 46 NW 3) 5.25km ENE of Tynemouth South Pier. Grid reference conversion made 04.03.2011 with with Lat/Long referenced as N 55 01 13 W 01 19 09




Peter Collings, 1991, The New Divers Guide to the North-East Coast, page 31; Young, R. (2000) Comprehensive guide to Shipwrecks of the North East Coast (The): Volume One (1740 – 1917), Tempus, Gloucestershire. p.165, Ian T. Spokes Wreck Database, Inga Project, National Monument Record (1500249 and 908653); United Kingdom Shipwreck Index; 1990 Lloyd's war losses, The First World War: Casualties to shipping through enemy causes 1914-1918 p127; A J Tennent 1990 British merchant ships sunk by U boats in the 1914-1918 war p102; 1988 British vessels lost at sea 1914-18 and 1939-45 Section 2 p48; Dave Shaw and Barry Winfield 1988 Dive north east : a Diver guide p56; Dick Keys and Ken Smith 2000 Steamers at the Staiths: Steam Colliers of the North-East 1841-1945 p29; Stirling Everard 1949 The History of the Gas Light and Coke Company 1812 - 1949 p306; accessed on 25-JUN-2009; accessed on 25-JUN-2009; accessed on 25-JUN-2009; Hydrographic Office wreck index; United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) wreck report 4257; Digital marine geographic information derived from SeaZone Hydrospatial Examination of EH deskGIS with SeaZone data layer, 15-MAR-2011

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