Collision of the FOREST and AVALANCHE 1877

Liverpool Journal, Sept 15th 1877

Awful disaster in the English Channel

Two ships sunk by collision

Upwards of 100 lives lost.

In brief ;-

On Tuesday night a fatal collision occurred in the Channel 7miles off Portland, between the AVALANCHE, Capt WILLIAMS of London bound to New Zealand and the FOREST of Windsor, Nova Scotia, Capt LOCKHART also from London bound for Sandy Hook for orders.

The former an iron vessel had on board 60 passengers and a crew of about 40. The FOREST, a crew of about 22, both were fully rigged.

About 9.30 pm on Tuesday, the weather thick, wind and rain heavy, the FOREST came into collision with the AVALANCHE striking her amidships, with such force that within a minute or two the latter gave two lurches and settled down carrying with her passengers and crew except three who managed to scramble on the FOREST.

The FOREST was severely damaged and almost immediately began to fill, but, kept afloat for about an hour and a half. Three boats were lowered and into these the whole of the men on board clambered. They were exposed the whole of the night in tempestuous weather, and shortly after daybreak were espied by some fishermen on the beach who had minutes before discovered 4 or 5 bodies washed ashore.

Not withstanding the fearful sea running the Portland fishermen launched two boats each manned with 7 men and set off towards a boat some distance out flying a distress flag. After battling with the waves for some time the brave fishermen discovered 12 men in the boat, whom they brought ashore given the greatest attention and by the 11.40 train the survivors where taken to the Seamenís Home at Weymouth.

Among the saved are the following men who all belong to London :-

Olitz BERGMANN, Wilhelm MEYER, Wilhelm JAGER, John NICHOLAS, John PALLASH, and Henry JOHNSON

An inquest has been opened at the, Cove Inn, Portland, before Mr R. N. HOWARD, Coroner.

The AVALANCHE was a fine iron vessel of 1,160 tons built at Aberdeen in 1874, by Hall, classed 100 A1 at Lloyds, she had a large and valuable cargo the majority insured in London offices and by the agencies in Australia and New Zealand.

The FOREST is a wooden vessel of 1,423 tons built by Churchill of Nova Scotia in 1873 and classed 8yrs at Lloyds.

Another account of the catastrophe received at Lloyds proves it to be more fatal than first reported, not less than 90 lives having been lost.

The AVALANCHE one of Messers SHAW SAVILLE and Coís New Zealand lines was bound from London for Wellington and carried, 26 saloon, 17 second cabin, and 20 third class passengers and a crew of 31. There were no emigrants, the passengers being mostly colonists, many were women.

Of the three boats got off one was washed ashore at West Bay, Portland with 5 bodies. A second was observed yesterday morning 2 miles distant, pulling for shore. Two Weymouth fishing boats were manned and succeeded in saving the 12 occupants, including, J. C. SHERRINGTON, 3rd Officer of the AVALANCHE and two able seamen, MILLS and MC CARTHY, Capt LOCKHART of the FOREST, MC KELVIE chief mate, the steward and 6 others.

Capt WILLIAMS of the AVALANCHE and the Pilot BROADRIBB are among the missing.

Five bodies washed ashore are identified as the carpenter and three seamen of the FOREST, and the carpenter of the AVALANCHE.

Names of passengers and crew

Passengers of the AVALANCHE

Chief cabin, F. W. WANTON, Mrs F. COOPER, Jane COOPER, Mr NEALE, Henry WILKINS, Mary Ann WILKINS, Helen WILKINS, Alfred WILKINS, William WILKINS, Emily WILKINS, Albert WILKINS, Miss M. WATT, Mrs SHILD, Miss TAYLOR, Mrs WOCKODIL, W. E. SHAW, F. C. SIMMONS, A. MONTGOMERIE, J. C. COOK, W. BENNETT, J. M. RICHARDS, Miss FOOTE, Dr TANNER, Mr TANNER, and Cecil E. WALKER.

2nd Cabin, Annie SPREADBROW, Mary SPREADBROW, Alexander KELLY, C. H. PICKMAN, J. C. CHAMBERLANE, Eliza N. CHAMBERLANE, John L. CHAMBERLANE, George CHAMBERLANE, W. J. WHITTAKER, John MUNTER, John R. MUNTER, S. D. KIRBY, J. GRAHAM, J. T. SOMERVILLE, George KERR, Jas WILSTON, Mrs WILSTON.

3rd Class, Frederick LEE, Matilda LEE, Edith LEE, Annie LEE, Mary LEE, Esther LEE, C. F. SMITH, W. EDMUNSON, J. A. BLYTH, C. LYSAGHT, C. CAREY, Max WERTHELM, John BISHOP, A. HORNUTEWICZ, Charles STOCK, Louis PETERSEN, N. A. KENWORTHY, J. MAXWELL, F. LAWS.

Crew of the AVALANCHE

E. WILLIAMS, Master, W. BOWRING, mate J. C. SHERRINGTON 3rd mate, J. H. JAMIESON carpenter, J. ALLEN steward, Robert DUDEEN cook, James NORIN boatswain, William MILLER, T. G. MILLS, Michael CARROL, J. C. MC CARTHY, James HAMILTON, Andrew BENNETT, A. J. WHITE, James DILMAN, Samuel WHITE, W. J. MEDHURST and Thomas BORMAN able seamen, F. T. COOMBES ord seaman, A. H. CRADOCK, L. J. JASON engineer, W. WOODWARD and W. C. MASON asst stewards, T. DONALDSON sail maker, Peter PETERSEN 2nd cook, Sidney RENUNTHY butcher, H. J. SMITH 2nd steward.

Our Dundee correspondent telegraphs that among the passengers on board the AVALANCHE were two young ladies Miss WATT and Miss TAYLOR both connected to Dundee where they had many friends. Miss WATT is the daughter of Mr WATT the Mayor of Wangunui, New Zealand, and came to this country 18mths ago, Miss TAYLOR arrived in the same vessel. Both were returning with the AVALANCHE , Miss WATT leaving behind her two brothers to finish their education. The fathers of Miss WATT and Miss TAYLOR are in business together as general merchants at Wangunui. The ladies left Dundee two days ago in good health and spirits.

Capt LOCKHART of the FOREST narrated the incident, in his narrative he says, he carried no intoxicating liquor his vessel was teetotal, this was his first accident for 16yrs.

Of the 63 passengers on board the AVALANCHE, 55 were adults, 8 children. The cargo comprised mainly of Manchester goods valued at £65,000-£100,000.

A chest was washed ashore on Thursday marked, Capt WILLIAMS, of the AVALANCHE, and another body identified as that of JAMIESON carpenter of the AVALANCHE.

The evidence at the inquest given by Capt LOCKHART and Mr SHERRINGTON mate of the AVALANCHE was identical, William GLACIER able seaman of the FOREST gave evidence to the same effect.

Weymouth Thursday

It is beyond doubt that 103 passengers and crew of both vessels still missing have perished. One of the bodies picked up was of a man who had only been married two days before the ship sailed. Capt LOCKHART and the rescued seamen have gone to London where an inquiry has been called for immediately by the Board of Trade. Four bodies have been picked up on the beach at Fleet, 4 miles west of Weymouth.

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Liverpool Journal Sept 22nd 1877

The collision between the Forest and the Avalanche

We learn that four of Messers SHAW SAVILLE and Coís clerks were among those lost on the AVALANCHE. They had gone out with the vessel for a trip down Channel intending to come ashore with the pilot.

Late on Sunday night a report was made to the coastguard at Weymouth that a boat filled with people had been seen off the Shambles in the Channel. It is feared some ships had run into the wreck of the FOREST, which still lies in a dangerous position.. A boat was despatched from HMS, WARRIOR to make a search which returned at 1 oí clock yesterday not having found the boat.

An attempt made on Thursday by HMS, DEFENCE to blow up the hull of the FOREST was unsuccessful, a shell was fired, a barrel of gunpowder exploded and three torpedoes fired into her all with no purpose. The hull lies south of the Shambles Lightship, the whole stern out of the water rising 40-50ft, a large portion of her bright metallic keel exposed to view. She lies on her counter bottom upwards not a spar of any description can be seen.

The Captain of the COMMODORE had a sounding taken of the depth of the water and found it to be 27 fathoms. It is thought her bow is embedded in the sand on account of her ballast having all gone forward.

A more dangerous obstruction to navigation than this towering hull rising like a rock out of the sea cannot be imagined if it is not speedily removed, serious consequences will result.

A subscription has been started to reward the fishermen who went to the rescue of the survivors of the catastrophe.

On Wednesday another attempt was made to blow up the wreck of the FOREST. Three hogsheads of powder were lowered down her quarters and exploded, the wreck lifted 2ft out of the water, but, remains as before.

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Liverpool Journal Sept 22nd 1877

The collision off Portland

Inquest on the bodies

Inquest opened Thursday am at the Independent Schoolroom, Portland, before Mr R. N. HOWARD, coroner, the room was crowded.

Mr INGLEDEW of Cardiff appeared for the owners of the Avalanche and Capt WILLIAMS

Mr RAIKES instructed by Messers CLARKSON, son and GREENWELL of London represented the owners of the FOREST and Mr F. C. ARDEN appeared for the association to which the ship was insured for protection against loss of life.

The Coroner on opening remarked on the gallant deed of the Portland fishermen and thanked them. He informed the jury what was the law in the inquiry to guide them in their decision.

William MEYER survivor of the FOREST gave the names of the five bodies identified, John ROSSETT carpenter, Louis BRAUSAN cook, Alexander MITCHELL. AB, J. GAFFERY. AB and Constance SCHMARDT crew of the Forest.

Thomas MILLS of the Avalanche and George WHITE who found the bodies and assisted in the rescue were also called.

Charles Gibbs PETHERBRIDGE Supt of Messers SHAW SAVILLE and Co described the equipment of the Avalanche as complete in every respect, the boat could hold 150.

Capt FALLE of the AQUILA steamer who examined the Forest found the helm hard-a-port.

MC CARTHY survivor of the Avalanche stated, he heard the pilot shout to the Forest to port her helm just before the collision, he thought, had the forest boats been lowered sooner more lives would be saved.

Robert MC KELVIE 1st mate of the Forest said, immediately after the collision the ship was on the starboard tack. MC KELVIE further stated he ordered out the boats and armed with a revolver prevented anyone getting on to the one last launched till all were got out. Capt LOCKHART gave evidence to the equipment of the Forest.

Inquest adjourned till today.

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Liverpool Journal Sept 29th 1877

Rewards for gallantry in saving life.

On Thursday the Mayor of Weymouth at St Johnís Schoolroom, Portland, distributed the large sums of money received by him from all parts, on behalf of the 14 brave fellows who on the 14th inst manned their two boats and at risk of their own lives rescued 12 survivors of the Forest and Avalanche. The total amount received was £140, the men received about £10 each.

A letter was received from Sir J. VOGEL, Agent-General for New Zealand who forwarded £70 a gift from the Government of New Zealand. W. T. HARWOOD and Co agents for the Forest forwarded a cheque for 10 guineas at the request of Capt LOCKHART, The Rector of Portland has also received £120 on behalf of the men which is to be distributed at a subsequent meeting.

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