Iron paddle steamer Brigand, built Page & Grantham, Liverpool, 1840
513 grt, 470 tons(bm), draught 7.5 ft, engines 200 hp.
Owned J. E. Redmond, Wexford. Registered Wexford.
Initially sailed from Wexford to Liverpool and to Bristol, weekly
Voyage Liverpool to London for St. Petersburg.
12 October 1842, struck Bishop Rocks, Scillies and sank in 45 fathoms.
Captain Robert M Hunt and 27 crew saved in 2 ship's boats.
From Liverpool Mail - Tuesday 19 May 1840
Launch of an Iron Steam-Vessel. A splendid iron steam-vessel, called the Brigand, of 470 tons measurement, was launched, Saturday last, from the new building-yard of Messrs. Grantham, Page, and Co., at the south end of the Brunswick Dock. This vessel, built for E. Redmond Esq. of Wexford, and is intended to run between that port and Liverpool. The spirited proprietor is the owner of the Town of Wexford steamer; but, in consequence of the dangerous state of the bar of Wexford harbour, in easterly winds, she is not able, at all times, to carry cargo. Mr. Redmond was, therefore, induced to order a vessel of iron, to ensure a light draft of water; and his expectations, in this respect, are likely to be fully realised, as she will be enabled to carry a heavy cargo on 7ft. 6in. water. The principal peculiarity of this vessel, over any that have yet been built of iron, is that she is to be employed in the heavy carrying trade of the Irish channel, and has consequently, been made much stronger than any that have preceded her; and although, probably, her hull weighs nearly 100 tons less than if made of oak, her strength will much exceed timber-built vessels. From the long experience of the builders, it may be expected that every means will be employed to make the Brigand as complete as possible, to increase the confidence in iron vessels which is everywhere springing up. - Albion.
Image (from Illustrated London News) of wreck
From Bristol Mercury - Saturday 22 October 1842
WRECK OF THE BRIGAND STEAMER. Intelligence reached Bristol on Saturday morning last, of the loss of the new iron steamer, Brigand, on the Wednesday preceding, near the Scilly Islands. This news created considerable excitement in the mercantile world, and more particularly so from the fact of the Brigand having been built to trade between Bristol and Liverpool, calling at Wexford, in which trade she had been employed for the last two years, having left the station only a fortnight since for the purpose of proceeding from London to St. Petersburgh, for which port she was intended to sail from the St. Katharine dock on Thursday last.
The Brigand was one of the largest and most beautiful iron steamers ever yet built, being 600 tons burthen, and of 180 horse power, and was remarkable for the beauty of her workmanship, the splendid fittings of her saloon, and her extraordinary speed. She cost in building £32,000. The steamer Herald, from Hayle, arrived at Bristol in the course of the morning, bringing the crew of the unfortunate vessel.
It appears that the Brigand, having taken in upwards of 200 tons of coals, and a large quantity of patent fuel, for her consumption on her voyage to St. Petersburgh, sailed from Liverpool for London at two o'clock on Monday afternoon, and proceeded safely on her voyage until five o'clock on Wednesday morning, when they saw the St. Agnes' light, which, from the refraction of light, the weather being very hazy, they conceived to be at a considerable distance - they were then steaming at 12 knots an hour. The wind was light, but there was a strong current setting in for the Bishop rocks. Suddenly the man on the look-out at the bow sang out "Breakers ahead!" which they distinctly saw, but too late, unfortunately, for the rate at which they were going was such that they could not stop her; and, although they put the helm hard a-port, to endeavour to shave the rock, the vessel immediately afterwards struck most violently, and two plates of the bluff of her bow were driven in. She rebounded from the rock, but in an instant afterwards, such I was the force of the current, she struck again, broadside on, the force of which blow may be in some measure conceived from the fact, that it actually drove a great portion of the paddle-wheel through her side into the engine-room.
The vessel was built in four compartments, the plan adopted in iron ships, or she would have gone down instantly, two of her compartments being now burst, and the water rushing into them at a most fearful rate. By the two shocks four and a half plates were destroyed, and four angle irons were gone in the engine-room. The two compartments aft being, however, still water-tight she continued to float, and every exertion was used by her commander, Captain Hunt, for upwards of two hours, to save her, when the crew took to the boats, and shortly afterwards she went down, about seven miles from the rock, in forty-five fathoms of water. The mate attributes the loss to the strong current setting then upon the rock, and to the haze having deceived them as to the distance of the St. Agnes' light.
The men belonging to the engineering department give the following interesting narrative of the occurrence. They say that, having left Liverpool on the Monday afternoon, every thing proceeded well until a few minutes before five o'clock on Wednesday morning, the vessel then going at full speed, her engines making upwards of 20 revolutions in the minute, being then, as they have since learned, close off St. Agnes. They were at work below in the engine-room, when suddenly they felt a tremendous shock, accompanied by a report like the roar of cannon, and almost instantaneously a second shock, and the water rushed in in a fearful manner. They immediately ran on deck, and found that the vessel had struck the rock, as before described. One of them was then ordered by the Captain to assist the carpenter in endeavouring to stop the leak, for which purpose he went down into the engine-room, where they were still trying to work the engines, but the paddle-wheel being driven in, had torn the injection-pipes, so that they would not work, but at slow motion; the engines were kept working, the Captain (as one man imagines) not thinking the leak so bad, and that they could get the better of it, or that, as the weather was so moderate, they might reach some port. On examining the leak in the engine-room, they found a rent of at least five feet in length, the rivets being started, and the plates broken, through which water rushed in a truly fearful manner. They immediately procured a plank, and having fixed it against the leak by means of stays to the cylinder, they got a quantity of waste tow and grease, which they stuffed in and endeavoured to keep out the water, and partially succeeded in doing so; but the other leak in the forehold, being out of reach, rendered all their efforts ineffectual; and the water, continuing to pour in, soon put the fires out, after which, there being more than four feet of water in the engine-room, they were compelled to quit it. In the meantime, another portion of the crew had been ordered by the Captain to go into the hold and throw the coals and patent fuel overboard, in order to lighten her, and blue lights were burnt and other signals of distress made. The men went to work steadily in the hold, getting out the coals, etc., until the water having gained very much upon them, they rushed on deck. The Captain having, however, addressed and encouraged them, they returned to the hold, and continued their exertions for about a quarter of an hour longer, when the water having risen over the hatches of the lower deck, they were compelled to quit the hold.
The Captain then called them all aft on the quarter-deck, and finding that no further exertions could be made to save the ship, and that she was then fast sinking forward, the sea at that time breaking over her bow, ordered them to make preparations for saving themselves, and the two boats belonging to the Brigand (both jolly boats) were got out, and the crew, 27 in number, placed in them. The captain and mate remained on the quarter-deck of the unfortunate vessel until the last. The boats, which were completely crowded, then shoved off, and in a few minutes the Brigand disappeared, sinking head foremost, about seven miles from where she struck, and in deep water. The weather, fortunately, was at this moment particularly moderate, or the boats, in their crowded state, could not have lived in the sea, and not a soul most probably would have been left to tell the tale. Having rowed to the rock, upon which they landed, to survey the coast, they shaped their course for St. Agnes' Bay, where, to their inexpressible joy, they saw two boats, well manned, coming to their relief, by whom (the men in the Brigand's boats being much exhausted from their exertions on board) they were taken in tow, and about three o'clock in the afternoon they were fortunately landed at St. Mary's, Scilly, - without the loss of a single life. The shipwrecked crew then proceeded in a pilot-boat to Penzance, and were kindly conveyed, passage free, to Bristol, in the Herald.
The rocks upon which the Brigand was lost have proved peculiarly fatal, no longer ago than 1841 the Thames steamer was wrecked within three miles of the same spot, and went down with such rapidity that 60 or 70 lives were sacrificed. Various suggestions have been made by nautical men here as to the cause of this wreck, some saying that the steamer ought not to have gone within many miles of the Scilly Islands; and that, the weather being moderate, she was not driven there: while, on the other hand, it is urged, that from the haziness of the weather she was not aware that site was so near until too late, the refraction of light deceiving them as to the distance of the St. Agnes' light; and the current, which is very strong there, and runs for nine hours in the one direction, and only three hours in the other, having set them down on the rock. Unfortunate, however, as this accident has been, it has decidedly proved the advantage of iron vessels built in compartments; for, had the leak affected only one compartment, she would undoubtedly have been saved, and even although, by the extraordinary fact of her rebounding and striking a second time, two compartments were burst, yet she floated for more than two hours and a half, enabling the crew to save themselves: and had they had sufficient boats they could have saved a good deal of property; while, if she had been built of wood, she must with such injuries have gone down in less than 10 minutes, and all hands would have perished.
From Liverpool Standard and General Commercial Advertiser - Tuesday 18 October 1842
LOSS OF THE BRIGAND, IRON STEAMER. The following letter has been received from the captain of the Brigand, iron steamer, which was unfortunately wrecked, off the Scilly Islands, on Wednesday last: "I have the misfortune to acquaint you that the Brigand struck on one of the sunken rocks to the westward of the Scilly Islands, called the Bishop's Ridge , between four and five o'clock on Wednesday morning last. I had made St. Agnes' Light some time before, broad on the larboard bow, and steered S.W. by W., a course which you will perceive, on every reasonable calculation, should have taken me clear many miles. The wind was east at the time, and the morning hazy, making the light appear far more distant than it really was; an effect (as the inhabitants informed me) always the result of similar circumstances, and which set ordinary calculation at defiance. I myself first saw from the quarterdeck the ripple of broken water. The helm was instantly put hard a-port, when the vessel touched on her larboard bilge, before the paddle wheels. Two plates, at each side of the water-tight bulk's-bead, which separate the engine-room from the fore hold, were broken in. The engine pumps were immediately rigged, and every endeavour made, but in vain, to staunch the leaks. In expectation that the water-tight compartments, forward and aft, still free, would keep the vessel afloat, all hands were set about throwing overboard 20 tons of patent fuel, stowed between decks; but she settled down so rapidly by the head, that it became my duty to order them to the boats. We were 28 in number, and with 14 in each boat, we shoved off. One boat, in charge of the first mate, I directed to be pulled immediately to the islands, and returned in the other close to the vessel, in order to board her again if she remained above water. About a quarter of an hour afterwards, rising perpendicularly half her length aft, she went down with a fearful noise, head foremost, the water spouting through her cabin windows high into the air. You may imagine the varied feelings that crowded on my mind as our boat, gunwale down, with her load of 14 souls, floated on the brink of the vortex made by our sunken ship. After six hours rowing we reached the shore. But amongst all my cares, I have one solitary gratification to the conduct of the crew. Not a man went near the boats until I gave the order to do so; and from the moment the vessel struck until I took leave of them all safe at Bristol, on Saturday morning, the same obedience and respect was shewn me as when I walked the deck, their commander. With the Assistance of the Society for the Benefit of Shipwrecked Seamen, and from their own willingness to remain under my control, I had the happiness of being able to provide for their wants, and to forward them all to their homes - Sincerely yours, "ROBERT M. HUNT."