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Tyne and Wear HER(12992): St. Mary's Island, Gothenburg City - Details

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N Tyneside

St. Mary's Island, Gothenburg City

St. Mary's Island


Maritime Craft

Transport Vessel

Cargo Vessel

Early Modern



A 2529 ton vessel, built in Hartlepool, which sank in 1891. A photograph of the grounding shows her stern on Bait Reef (where some of her cargo of Appitite can be found) and her bows in Smugglers Creek. The wreck site was confirmed in 1988. Only flattened plates, some framework and girders remain. Most of the wreckage is well embedded into the rocks. The ship's wheel can be seen in the Watchtower at Tynemouth (Collings). Iron, 2,529-ton, 91.87m long, 11.58m beam, 7.21m draught, British steamship registered at West Hartlepool. She was owned by C. Furness MP and built in 1884 by E. Withy & Co. both at West Hartlepool. Her single iron propeller was powered by a two-cylinder, compound-steam engine, using two boilers. Her machinery was built by T. Richardson & Sons of Hartlepool. She had two decks, three watertight bulkheads and a superstructure consisting of an 11m poop-deck, 23m bridge-deck and 8.7m forecastle. Under the command of Captain John Harrison, the Gothenburg City sailed from Montreal for Newcastle upon Tyne on 13 June with a cargo of deal, animals, cattle and phosphate rock. On 26 June 1891, she encountered heavy fog when close inshore off Northumberland and her speed was cut down to half, but she ran aground at St. Mary’s Island. Tugs were brought in to assist and Penny ferries unloaded 150 cattle out of the total 476 animals on board, while another vessel took off part of her 400 standards of deal and 300 tons of phosphate rock. The ship’s hull was badly damaged under her engine room and the amount of water that flooded in made the attempts by three tugs to pull her clear of the rocks, rather fruitless. The following day, her remaining cattle were offloaded to lighten the ship with a view to refloating her, but by this time her hull had filled up with water and it was found that her engine and boilers had actually moved! During the operation a diving boat sank near the ship and a hard-hat (standard) diver was drowned. Heavy weather and rough seas eventually caused the ship to written off as a total loss. Two entries listed on NMR (1371189 & 1196351) with two separate monument numbers NZ 37 NE 10 and 12. What remains of the Gothenburg City lies just out from the north-north-western side of St Mary’s Island, in about 8m of water (NMR says 6m). She is well broken up, with one boiler still remaining, lots of scattered iron plates, ribs, an anchor and chain and the propeller shaft.




Peter Collings, 1991, The New Divers Guide to the North-East Coast, page 46; Young, R. (2000) Comprehensive guide to Shipwrecks of the North East Coast (The): Volume One (1740 – 1917), Tempus, Gloucestershire. p. 173; Ian T. Spokes Wreck Database, National Monuments Record (1196351 & 1371189); United Kingdom shipwreck index [pre publication typescript]; Charles Hocking 1990 Dictionary of Disasters at Sea during the Age of Steam Page(s)280; Peter Collings 1988 The illustrated dictionary of north east shipwrecks Page(s)70-71; Richard and Bridget Larn 1997 Shipwreck index of the British Isles, volume 3. The east coast of England : Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, County Durham, Northumberland Section 7, Northumberland (CG) 3; Dave Shaw and Barry Winfield 1988 Dive north east : a Diver guide no 103 Page(s)67-68

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