Arthur Gordon, iron, built South Shields 1854, ON 24693, as screw steam ship.
1857: 424grt, 289nrt, 182.0 x 20.0 x 12.0ft, 100hp.
In 1858 sold to James Fisher of Barrow, engine removed, 348t, sail: 3 masts; brigantine.
Voyage Barrow to Briton Ferry (near Neath) with 400t of iron ore.
Independence, iron steam tug, built St. Peter's Quay, Newcastle 1850, 254grt, 110nrt.
124.2 x 22.9 x 11.1ft, 2cyl engines, 150hp, paddles, ON 6018
Built for Powerful Steam Tug Co. of Liverpool for use on Mersey.
Was towing barque JKL of Bristol from Liverpool to Holyhead.
Independence collided with Arthur Gordon on Tuesday 6th March 1860.
Both vessels sank in 18 fathoms (33m) with all crew saved, JKL not sunk.
Location about 3.5 miles from position 16 miles E by N (mag) of Great Ormes Head.
From Liverpool Daily Post, Wednesday 7 March 1860
SERIOUS COLLISION. - TWO VESSELS SUNK. A very serious collision, resulting in the loss of a large steam tug and a fine schooner, occurred yesterday morning. It appears that about ten o'clock, the steam tug Independence was off West Hoyle, about twelve miles off the port, with the barque J. K. L., of Bristol, in tow. A large three-masted iron schooner, named the Arthur Gordon, was beating down the channel, and by some unfortunate accident, the tug came collision with her. The shock was very severe, and it became at once apparent that the tug was in sinking condition. The crew took to their boat and got on board the barque J. K. L., and in minutes the tug sank, the crew losing all their kit, etc., in the hurry of the escape. The collision stove in the side of the schooner, and she sank in fifteen minutes, the crew saving their clothes, being received on board the ship [steamtug] British Queen. Both vessels were lost in 18 fathoms water, and there is not much probability of their being recovered. The Arthur Gordon was laden with 400 tons of iron ore and was on her way to Briton's Ferry, in the Bristol Channel. The loss by this unfortunate occurrence will be very considerable.
From Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, Friday 16 March 1860
Report of Captain David Roberts, Master of the brigantine Arthur Gordon of and from Barrow for Neath (iron ore), which foundered, having been in contact (as previously reported).
Left Barrow on the 5th inst., and proceeded until the 6th, at 10 AM., fine, and the wind W under whole sail, close hauled on the wind, on the port tack, heading NNW about 15 or 16 miles off the Great Ormes Head bearing W by S, observed a steamtug, which afterwards proved to the Independence, with a ship in tow (the J.K.L., of and for Bristol), broad on the Arthur Gordon's lee beam. As she neared, fearing a collision, I (the Master) repeatedly hailed them to port their helm; but the steamer took no notice. We then saw that there was no person on the look-out on board the steamer but the man at the wheel. Kept hailing, and then a man came out of the fore cabin, who went aft to the man at the wheel, when the helm was put hard a-starboard. Then hailed them to stop her, of which no notice was taken. She then struck the Arthur Gordon on the starboard quarter. The steamer sank in a few minutes, and the brigantine immediately afterwards. The crew of the Arthur Gordon got into their boat, and were picked up the steamtug British Queen, and landed at Liverpool the 6th.
From Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, Tuesday 20 March 1860
Report of Captain Thomas Cousins, late Master Tug Independence, of 110 tons, of and from Liverpool for Holyhead, which foundered after being contact with the brig Arthur Gordon (as previously. reported):-
Left Liverpool on the 6th inst., weather fine, and the wind W by S, towing the barque J. K. L., for Bristol. When a few miles outside the Bell Buoy, at 9 A.M., observed a three masted schooner four or five miles, under all sail, on the starboard tack, with the wind W by S, moderate breeze, and about half an hour afterwards, considering that all was correct, went down to breakfast, and remained in the cabin from 15 minutes to half hour. We were by this time off the Barland [sic], when I heard the man at the wheel cry out "starboard". I immediately ran on deck, and saw a schooner, which proved to be the Arthur Gordon (iron ore), which struck the Independence on the port bow; the schooner was on the port tack. I, the master, ran forward and cried out that our vessel was sinking. Ordered the hawser [tow rope] to be let go, and got our boat out; we all got into her, when our vessel instantly sank. All hands were taken board the J. K. L., and, about hour and a half afterwards, taken off by the steamtug British Queen, and landed at Liverpool the same evening at 6 o'clock. - [see report of Captain Roberts, master of brig Arthur Gordon, which also foundered from effects of the collision, in the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette of Friday.]
From Liverpool Mercury, Saturday 28 July 1860 and Glasgow Herald 30 July.
COLLISION OFF THE GREAT ORMES HEAD. - An action was brought in the Admiralty Court on Thursday by the owner and crew of the late brigantine Arthur Gordon, of 347 tons against the owners of the late steam-tug Independence, of Liverpool, of 110 tons, to recover for a total loss occasioned by a collision which happened between the vessels off the Great Ormeshead on the morning of the 6th of March last. The Arthur Gordon was on a voyage from Barrow, in the county of Lancaster, to Neath, in Glamorganshire, with a cargo of iron ore. When the Arthur Gordon was off the Great Ormeshead, which was distant 16 miles, and bore about W. by S., and was on the port tack, heading NNW, close hauled to the wind, which was W.; her lookout observed the Independence at the distance of about three miles, bearing N.E. by E., broad on the brigantine's lee, and heading WNW and having the ship J.K.L., of Bristol, in tow. The steam-tug approached the Arthur Gordon rapidly, without altering her course, when she was hailed to port her helm, but it was put hard a-starboard. The crew of the brigantine then hailed those on board of the Independence to stop her, but, without slackening her speed, she ran nearly stem on into the Arthur Gordon's starboard quarter, abaft the mizzen rigging, with such force as to knock the quarter completely in, both above and below the waterline. Almost immediately after the collision, the Arthur Gordon and the Independence sank. The crew of the brigantine took to their boats and were afterwards picked up by the steam-tug British Queen and taken to Liverpool. The owner of the Arthur Gordon attributed the collision to the negligence and mismanagement of those on board the Independence.
It was alleged by the owners of the steam-tug that those on board the brigantine hailed and waived[sic] to her to starboard her helm and to pass under the stern of the Arthur Gordon. The helms of the tug and of the J. K. L. were starboarded and the engines of the steamer were reversed, but, notwithstanding, the collision occurred. The brigantine struck, with her starboard quarter, the stem and port bow of the Independence, twisting her stem over to starboard, and staving in her bows. The owners of the tug imputed the collision to the unskilfulness and mismanagement of those on board the brigantine. There was a cross action at the instance of the owners of the steam-tug.
Mr. Vernon Lushington was heard for the owner of the Arthur Gordon; the Queen's Advocate and Dr. Deane, Q. C., for the owners of the Independence.
Dr. Lushington, in addressing the Trinity Masters, said that it was admitted on all hands that if the steamer had no vessel in tow she was bound to get out of the way of a vessel close hauled. The reason of that was, that a steam vessel could face the wind, stop, ease, or reverse her engines. If the Independence was bound to give way to the Arthur Gordon, that vessel was entitled to expect that she would do so. He did not think that at the moment the tug starboarded, the collision could have been avoided, though it might have been if measures had been taken a few minutes before. The question then was, whose fault was it that the vessels were brought into that position? The learned Judge then recapitulated the evidence, which was very conflicting.
After consulting with the Elder Brethren, his Lordship said that they were of opinion that the Independence was solely to blame, and decreed accordingly.
Postscript The Independence left Liverpool passing the Bell Buoy [at the entrance to Victoria Channel] and was heading for Holyhead. The master of the Independence quotes the collision as "about 1 hour after being a few miles past the Bell Buoy heading for Holyhead". The position of the vessels is described from the master of the Arthur Gordon as that they were 3 miles apart when "16 miles E by N from Great Ormes Head". If the bearing was magnetic, since the compass variation was about 24° in 1860, this would mean at 55° from Great Orme. That corresponds to just outside the NE corner of the Gwynt y Môr wind farm. That position is indeed close to the track from the Bell Buoy to the north of Anglesey. Allowing for their tracks to converge, it would be about 3.5 miles further on at 313° to where the collision occurred. That corresponds to a position near the Douglas Rig. The depth there is about 26 metres below LAT nowadays - so, at mid-tide, about 18 fathoms. There is an iron wreck near here - the "pipe wreck" - which has been tentatively assigned to be that of the small SS Helvetia in 1911 [see Wrecks of Liverpool Bay Volume II, p 88, 133]. I am not aware of any other possibe candidate wrecks in that region.