Wooden paddle steamer Monk built W. Seddon, Birkenhead 1837
71 grt, 88 x 16 x 7 ft. Engines 45 hp by Johnson and Co., Liverpool
Initially used by Monk Ferry Company as a Birkenhead-Liverpool Ferry
Return voyage from Porthdinllaen to Liverpool with cargo of 180 pigs, 2 tons of butter and 2 cattle
Captain Henry Hughes of Liverpool plus 7 crew and 18 passengers.
Ran aground on 7 January 1843 in hurricane force WNW wind on Caernarfon Bar
Only 6 persons saved, 20 lost.
The Monk was a small wooden paddle steamer, previously used as a
Mersey ferry, that was making its first voyage from Liverpool to
Porthdinllaen. On her return, she was driven onto the banks of
Caernarfon Bar and wrecked. She was found to be leaking and may have
been directed into Caernarfon for repairs. However, because of
ignorance of the correct channel, ignorance of the depth of water
prevailing, storm damage to her steering, or other causes, she struck
the banks of the channel. The crew burned a tar-barrel to signify
distress. Four persons
also succeeded in getting ashore in a small punt belonging to the Monk, to request
help from the lifeboat.
The Llanddwyn lifeboat, which was usually manned by the pilots from
Llanddwyn and additional local farm-workers, had been on an exercise to
Caernarfon that day and had been moored at Aber Menai since the wind and
weather was too strong to allow them to get her back to Llanddwyn. So
there was a delay until the next morning in getting the lifeboat to
the wreck - by which time only two persons were still alive.
The same storm drove the wooden paddle steamer Skimmer (built Chester 1839) ashore near Beaumaris Point - where she was expected to remain until the next spring tide. Other paddle steamers in the area: Vale of Clwyd and Snowdon survived without mishap.
Contemporary newspaper reports:
From Globe - Tuesday 10 January 1843
DISTRESSING WRECK OF A STEAMER. TWENTY-TWO LIVES LOST. (FROM OUR LIVERPOOL CORRESPONDENT.) The steamer Monk, from Portynllaen[sic] (near Carnarvon) to Liverpool, with pigs and butter, was lost during a heavy gale on Saturday night last [7 January 1843], near the fairway buoy, Carnarvon Bar. Four men saved themselves in their boat; two more were saved by the lifeboat, and the remaining twenty perished, owing to the heavy sea washing over them. The latter two men were saved by the exertions of Capt. Jones, of the smack Diligence, who, on seeing the signal lights of distress, immediately obtained a horse, and galloped several miles to the life-boat station, mustered a crew, and was alongside the wreck in a very short time. The sea was running very high, and it was only by great exertion that the above two were saved. The Monk was a small steam vessel, and but a short time on the Carnarvon and Liverpool station.
(FROM A CORRESPONDENT IN BANGOR.) The steamer Monk, with engines of 50 horse power, Hughes, master, sailed on Saturday evening last from Porthdinlleyn, having on board 140 pigs and considerable quantity of butter (said to be worth £600), the property of persons residing in that neighbourhood. She was bound for Liverpool, and passed the black and red buoys on Carnarvon Bar about 5 pm, when she appears to have missed the course, and struck on the North Bank about three minutes afterwards. The crew consisted of eight men, and there were at least eighteen persons more on board, the owners of the cargo. Six only from the whole have survived the catastrophe.
Hugh Jones, the engineer, is the only one belonging to the vessel who is saved. The survivor and three others, soon after she struck, launched the punt, which could carry no more than six men, and reached a bank, along which, for a considerable distance, they had to drag the boat, and cross two other channels, before they reached the main land.
They informed the Llanddwyn life-boatmen of the accident, who went towards the wreck about eight clock; but after two fruitless exertions they could not reach the steamer, and were forced to return, in consequence of the heavy swell then running over the Bar. It was a trying thing for the survivors, though now aware of their own safety, to reflect upon the scene of misery they had recently left, which is represented as of a most heart-rending description. Many in despair and fear had lost all control over themselves, others were engaged in fervent prayer, and all seemed too timid or overawed to avail themselves of the example of the engineer and his party to launch a more powerful boat on board, by means of which a great number, if not the whole, might have been saved.
The captain declared from the first that he would not leave the ship while a plank stuck together.
About eleven clock p.m. the vessel was breaking up, at which time the unfortunate sufferers on board had crowded into the rigging, from which one after another was seen to drop off as nature became exhausted. Fifteen unhappy beings who clung to the weather shrouds were washed off "at one fell swoop".
On Sunday morning, the shores of the Menai were strewed with carcasses of pigs and masses of butter; the owner of the latter was saved with another person, by the life-boat, after enduring the most trying hardship all the night of Saturday. The corpse of Captain Hughes has been washed ashore at Belan. None of the others have as yet been found.
Caernarvon, Jan 8. We are sorry to state that the Monk (steamer), Hughes, with pigs, butter, etc., from Portinllaen [sic] to Liverpool, struck on the north bank of Caernarvon Bar, about six p.rm. yesterday, when the engine became immediately disabled. She soon stuck fast on the sands, being then within an hour of low water. The master, being in hopes she would float off with the flood tide, endeavoured to pacify the passengers to await the event, but made signals to the lifeboat station, exhibiting lights and burning a tar barrel, in hopes they would come off.
The life-boat, however, which is directed to attend the first Saturday in each month at Caernarvon, had been there that day, and, being unable to return to her proper station, had been unfortunately left in a position where she proved unavailable in this case, as, when she made the attempt against strong tide and head wind, she found it impossible to reach the vessel; they were therefore left in the most pitiable and melancholy condition, without hopes of obtaining any assistance, and without the knowledge of the extent of their suffering danger, and not anticipating the dreadful catastrophe that followed.
Daybreak, however, exhibited shattered fragments of the broken vessel and portions of her cargo of pigs and butter strewed about the coast; with the dreadful certainty that at least twenty-two individuals had perished, four only having saved themselves in a small punt, after much danger and exertion; having been once capsized on approaching the bank, but, fortunately securing the boat, they hauled her on the bank and launched her a considerable distance over it, got into the channel between it and the main, which they were enabled to reach by the use of the bottom boards, having lost the oars when she capsized. We have just this moment also learned that, in addition to the above, two others were taken off part of the wreck about nine a.m. this day, by the Llanddwyn life-boat. The body of the master is the only one yet found. This was the first trip of the vessel on this coast, and it feared that no one sufficiently acquainted with the bar was on board of her.
The following is a list of the persons saved, viz.: Mr. Owen Williams, Gefalygam; Thomas Davies, Portinllaen ; Hugh Jones, engineer; and Thomas Jones, Caerdur, by the ship's boat. Griffith Jones Ellis and Wm. Owen, Bodlas, by the life-boat.
From North Wales Chronicle - Tuesday 17 January 1843
WRECK OF THE MONK. The details of the wreck of the steamer 'Monk,' with the loss of the greater portion of the crew and passengers, appeared in the Chronicle of last week. We subjoin some further particulars. It appears from several circumstances that the vessel could not have been seaworthy. Indeed the men were employed at the pump from her first departure from Porthdynllaen till she struck.
Saved in the small boat:- Mr Owen Williams, of Birmingham, provision dealer; Hugh Jones, engineer of the vessel, the only one saved belonging to the vessel; Thomas Jones, Tai-dwr, Llaniestyn, mate of the Nevin; Thomas Davies, publican, Portdynllaen.
Saved by the life-boat on Sunday morning:- Wm Owen, farmer, Bodlas, Lleyn; Griffith Ellis [named as Griffith Jones at inquest], servant [pig drover] of Mr. Owen Williams.
Lost:- Captain Hughes, the crew, seven in number (excepting the engineer); Captain Mathew James, son of Mr. James, Principal Coast Officer of Customs, Porthdynllaen, (Capt. James had been visiting his relatives at Porthdynllaen, and was returning to Liverpool to join his vessel); John, son of Griffith Jones, Pen-y-caerau, Lleyn; Thomas Jones, Ty-cerrig, Aberdaron; John Griffiths, Ty'n-llan, Bryncroes; John Williams, Pen-craig-fawr, Bryncroes; John Jones, Cefn-gwyn, Bryncroes; Thomas Jones, Bodheulog, Ederri, the steersman of the vessel, and, we understand, engaged to pilot her to Carnarvon; Richd. Jones, Glan-llynau, Lleyn; James Harrison, Llangwnadl; William Thomas, Smith, Carnarvon, who had been to Porthdynllaen to see his friends; Robert Owen, Tymawr, Bodfean; Phillip, son of William Parry, saddler, Llaniestyn.
Heart-rending as this calamity must prove, it is rendered still more painful from the conviction which generally prevails that had the Llanddwyn life-boat been at her proper station, the loss of life, at all events, might have been prevented. A strict inquiry into the circumstances will no doubt take place.
INQUEST UPON THE BODIES OF CAPTAIN HENRY HUGHES, AND SIX OTHERS.
Subjoined is an account of the evidence taken before William Jones, Esq., Coroner, at an inquest held in Newborough on Monday, the 9th inst., on the bodies of Captain Henry Hughes, and six others lost by the wreck of the Monk Steamer, on the night of Saturday, the 7th inst., on Carnarvon Bar.
Griffith Jones, of Pwll-melin, parish of Bryncroes, Carnarvonshire, Pig Drover, one of the survivors, proved that on Saturday, at half-past 2 o'clock, he left Porthdinllaen on board the Monk steamer, with the intention of going to Liverpool; that the steamer contained a cargo of 140 Pigs, some tons of Butter, 2 fat cattle and other articles.
- So far as he knew every thing went on well until the steamer came near to the Black Buoy at the entrance of the Carnarvon Bar, which was about 5 o'clock, when the chain of the wheel broke.
- This witness went on to describe how the water gained upon the pumps, until the vessel struck about half-past 5 p.m.; in half an hour after, 4 persons (Owen Williams, of Birmingham, Thos. Davies, and Thos. Jones, passengers, and the Engineer, Hugh Jones) left in the small boat leaving 21 others on board of the Steamer; at 12 the same night, she split across the middle, the hind part went to pieces, and all with the exception of himself and four others were swept away and drowned; himself and four others clung to the mast or forepart until nine on Sunday morning -- a little before which the Captain threw himself off with the intention of swimming ashore, but was drowned - two others had ceased to live, and himself and one William Williams, were finally taken into the life-boat and saved.
The next witness was Hugh Jones, engineer, who said that while at Porthdynllaen, the vessel took in a good deal of water, but not so much but that he would trust himself in her to go on a voyage; about one hour and a half after leaving, the fireman reported the water rising, and on going below, found the suction-pipe choked; there was a strong gale and high sea; in his opinion the vessel was overloaded, and not fit to go out in such weather, but still he thought she would have made port that day had she been properly managed.
John Jones, of Bodiorwerth, Newborough, master mariner, deposed that having observed signals of distress on Sunday morning, he rode on his pony to the beach, and made one or two ineffectual attempts to gain the wreck. He then galloped off to Aber-Menai, for the life-boat, and prevailed on some of his neighbours to assist. On nearing the wreck in very shallow water they picked up the body of the Captain, apparently just dead; by means of a rope they got two men in the life-boat - these were saved - there were two others on the wreck who had just died. [We regret to be obliged considerably to abridge a very full report, owing to a pressure of other matter. ]
The Coroner having summed up, the Jury in each case returned a verdict of "Accidentally Drowned," expressing their opinion that the Steamer was not suficiently seaworthly, and ought not to have been placed upon the station and that great blame attached to those having charge of her in leaving Portdinllaen on the day in question.
Great praise is due to Captain John Jones of Newborough, but for whose exertions the two remaining on the wreck on Sunday mroning would have shared the fate of the rest. He had some difficulty in prevailing upon the crew of the life-bat to come out on that morning.
To the Editor of the North Wales Chronicle.
Having read an account of the sad catastrophe that took place this day week on our bar, in the Carnarvon Herald, may I beg of you to allow me to state that the remarks of the Editor are rather too severe upon the crew of the Llanddwyn Lifeboat. Only place him in their situation, and he would then be able to give the public a more accurate and fair account of the melancholy occurrence. Knowing nothing about the affair himself, he ought not to have attached any blame to the crew before he knew the merits of the case. I must confess it was unfortunate that the boat had left Llanddwyn in the morning, for the sole purpose of exercise, it being their regular monthly day, and moreover that they are ordered strictly to come to town on that day, that the party having the charge of the boat may see and know that the men do their duty. Now, perhaps, your readers are not aware that the boat, stationed at Llanddwyn, is under the command of the Carnarvon Harbour Trustees, or their clerk, and that they at one of their meetings, directed, that the boat should be manned and properly exercised once a month (the first Saturday in the month) being only twelve days out of the three hundred and sixty five, to see that she is in perfect repair, etc. As for the remarks in the Herald of an esteemed friend, I see he is not acquainted with nautical affairs, and ought to have kept them to himself; the port or station alluded to is Holyhead no doubt, but let me tell you the case is very different there, where there are always plenty of old and tried tars to man a boat, and then they may plunge fearlessly and rescue the sufferers from imminent danger. Now the case at Llanddwyn is far different; there are only four men accustomed to a seafaring life, and the rest of the crew I believe, consist of men living at a distance of 3 or 4 miles off, and are engaged in farming pursuits; consequently they require practice to overcome a timidity, which at times even the most daring cannot throw off. I only wish to let the public know that the poor crew are not to be blamed; the Editor's statement is not correct, in saying that they were in liquor, as they could not muster a sixpence between them, and their taking the boat for market purposes is another untruth, as I venture to say that not one of them would have come to town in the Life Boat that day, but have preferred walking to the ferry and returning the same way. I admit it was impossible for them to have made Llanddwyn that night, the wind blowing from the quarter it did, so they left the boat at Aber Menai, and walked home, a distance of nearly four miles, and upon getting there, they first saw the pitch barrels burning on the wreck, and immediately returned (six in number) to the boat, where they found four of the sufferers, who assisted them, as far as they were able, to man the boat, and rescue the remainder. Now from the statement of Mr. Owen Williams, one of the passengers who was saved, it appears that he gave the men great praise for their conduct in making the presumptuous attempt. I only wish things to be seen through and taken in their proper light; the matter no doubt will be looked into, and I trust the Trustees of the Harbour, in future, will order the boat to be exercised always to windward, so that in case of any vessel being in distress, they can run down upon her and be better able to render assistance.
signed: A Mariner, Carnarvon 14 January
From Liverpool Standard and General Commercial Advertiser - Friday 20 January 1843
On the 7th January 1843, Mr. HENRY HUGHES, aged 31, master of the unfortunate steamer Monk, (wrecked in Carnarvon Bay) and, formerly, of No. 11 pilot-boat of this port, deeply and sincerely regretted by those who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. He had swam ashore twice, and was returning the third time to seek assistance, but became exhausted, and was found in water scarcely sufficent to cover him. He has left a widow and three small children to lament his loss.
from North Wales Chronicle - Tuesday 31 January 1843
LLANDDWYN LIFE BOAT. As will be seen in our advertizing columns, an investigation into the circumstances of the absence of the Life Boat from its station on the occasion of the wreck of the "Monk" Steamer took place at Carnarvon on Tuesday last. The meeting was held in the large room in the Harbour office and was attended by near thirty of the Trustees as well as by a deputation from the Anglesey Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck, affording the strongest proof that the interests of humanity are not slightly estimated in this country.
At the commencement of the meeting, there was an unanimous expression of disapproval of the, to say the least, very hasty and unsupported animadversions in the Carnarvon Herald, and not a few gentle hints were given to our contemporary to be more careful for the future. At first there appeared to be very conflicting opinions as to the conduct of the Pilots, which caused the investigation to be a most searching one - but as the truth was elicitcd from the examination of a number of witnesses, the whole gradually converged to the opinions expressed in the resolutions advertized, and which were ultimately carried thus affording the best proof that there was no "Cushioning" or concealing of the real truth. The most interesting part of the enquiry, and that which was most warmly investigated was the question: "Had the Boat been at its station, would more people have been saved?" No pains were spared to get the best evidence and the opinions of the most experienced seamen - They all agreed that, physically speaking, it was easier to get from Llanddwyn than from Abermenai, but that under the circumstances of the darkness of the night, no Boat whatever would have ventured into such a place to thread a narrow channel in the dark with a frightful surf tumbling all around. The Harbour Surveyor, Mr. Robert Roberts, one of the most gallant men that ever was in a boat, declared emphatically that under the circumstances "no mortal man in his senses, would think of such a thing," an opinion that was in the end assented to by every seaman present, though many were at first of a different opinion.
Captain Jones, of Newborough, who witnessed every part of the transaction and distinguished himself by his energy and activity in rescuing the two survivors from the wreck, gave a most lucid account of the whole and received the cordial thanks of the meeting for his conduct on that occasion, as well as for the valuable information furnished to them. He was the first person who made it out in the grey of the morning that there were any human beings still alive on the wreck, and being on horseback he was enabled to collect sufficient assistance to tow the boat along the edge of the Bank, and thus to reach the wreck a few minutes before the flood tide would have swept off the survivors. Had the Boat been at Llanddwyn, this could not have been effected - One of the witnesses exclaimed emphatically "it was by the merciful interposition of God that the Boat happened to be at Abermenai, and was thus enabled to save those who survived."
The Pilots were however severely reprimanded for coming into Carnarvon that day, and at the same time, praised for their subsequent good conduct. Arrangements we understand were made to meet for the future difficulties and emergencies suggested by the present occasion. We have been told by experienced seamen that no one unacquainted with the locality can form any idea of the terrific surf that runs on these banks during W. N. W. Gales, some affirming that they curl over at a height of not much less than thirty feet! In daylight a Boat may by great skill and coolness get out of their way, but in the darkness of night, it is next to impossible that any boat should live half an hour in it. The performance of the same Boat and crew in saving 17 persons from the ship Mountaineer, in very nearly the same spot, and a similar Gale, in October, 1841, but in broad day light, was generally considered by nautical men as a most skilful as well as most gallant act.
Carnarvon Harbour Trust.
At a Special Meeting of the Trustees of the Harbour of Carnarvon, held at their Committee Room, on TUESDAY, the 24th JANUARY, for the purpose of making a strict investigation into all the circumstances connected with the conduct of the Crew of the Life-boat, stationed at Llanddwyn, on the occasion of the recent melancholy and disastrous loss of the Monk steamer, on Carnarvon Bar.
R M PREECE, Esq., Mayor, in the chair
The following resolutions were unanimously passed:
Moved by the Rev. JAMES WILLIAMS, seconed by Mr. R. R. GRIFFITHS,
That the thanks of the meeting be presented to John Jones, of Newborough, for his attendance here this day, and for his satisfactory evidence as to the circumstances connected with the loss of the Monk steamer.
Moved by WM. BULKLEY HUGHES Esq., M.P., and seconded by FRANK. J. WALKER Esq.
1st. That it appears to this meeting that it has been the usual custom for the last three months, for the crew of the Life-boat, stationed at Llanddwyn, to come to Carnarvon, on the first Saturday in the month, in the course of their practice, but that, in the instance in question, the Crew had special orders to the contrary from Mr John Jackson, Clerk to the Trust.
2nd. That it appears from the evidence of Captain J. Jones, that, under the circumstances of darkness and danger, and the wreck being inside of the North Bank, the boat was not less favourably situated at Abermenai, than it would have been at Llanddwyn, and that, had it been at the latter, the two persons saved from the wreck, would, in all probability, have been lost.
3rd. That the practice of coming to Carnarvon with the Lifeboat is not advisable, and ought to be discontinued, and that, under the circumstances of wind and weather, the Pilots were highly culpable in coming in, but that their subsequent conduct and exertions, for upwards of four hours, in attempting to reach the wreck, were highly praiseworthy; and that there are no grounds for charging the men with drunkenness, and, on the contrary, it has been fully proved that they were sober.
Moved by Mr. JOHN HUGHES, seconded by Mr. Wm. MATTHEW
That the thanks of the meeting be presented to the Rev. James Williams, and the Rev. Hugh Jones, the deputation from the Anglesey Shipwreck Society, for their attendance, and the lively interest manifested by them in the proceedings of the meeting.
Moved by the Rev. JAMES WILLIAMS, seconded by WILLIAM BULKLEY HUGHES Esq. MP.
That the thanks of the meeting be presented to the Mayor for his able and impartial conduct in the chair, and for the very satisfactory manner in which he has conducted the business of the meeting.
That these resolutions be advertised in the North Wales Chronicle and Carnarvon Herald
By Order, JOHN JACKSON, Clerk to the Trustees.