Small steamships wrecked Hoyle Bank

SS Albion 1887,
SS Renfrew 1895.


Wooden steam lighter (or flat) built 1871 Edward Lindsay, St Lawrence, Newcastle
53gt, 30nt, 64.1 x 19.1 x 7.3ft, 1 screw, reg Hull 1874
Engines: L2cyl (9.5 & 9.5 x 12ins), 14nhp built Pattison & Atkinson, Newcastle
1881 owned William H Williams, Liverpool
by 1887 owner was Alfred Smith, 30 Old Hall St., Liverpool.
Voyage from Liverpool to Bridgewater with a cargo of flour
12 December 1887: Abandoned near Bar Light Vessel and later wrecked on West Hoyle Bank
Captain and crew took to their own boat and were picked up by flat Llanfair.

From Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Mercury: Thursday 15 December 1887

VESSEL SUNK OFF THE PORT. A telegram received stated that a small vessel is lying at no. 108 per chart - on the West Hoyle at the entrace of the river Dee. The masts only of the vessel could be seen, and from these it was conjectured that the vessel was a small river flat. It was subsequently ascertained, however, that the vessel was called the Albion, a Hoylake fishing smack having put out to her. The Albion was a wooden screw steamer of small tonnage, going from Liverpool to Bridgewater and had on board a cargo of flour. She left the Mersey on Tuesday. and it is probable that she was lost the same night. Nothing was mentioned about the crew in the telegram, but it is likely they escaped in their own boat to the shore. From earliest morning yesterday, a moderate gale was blowing off the port from the west-south-west with a heavy running sea at the Bar and off the Welsh coast, the atmosphere being misty, but afterwards becoming clearer.

From Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Mercury: Friday 16 December 1887

THE WRECK OF THE STEAMER ALBION. SAFETY THE CREW. It turns out that the crew of the steamer Albion which left Liverpool on Monday, and was wrecked on the West Hoyle, have all been saved. When the Albion got outside the river, she encountered some heavy weather and tremendous seas. The vessel either sprang a leak or was swamped by the heavy waves. The pumps were used, but they were of no avail. The water came up until it reached the engine room and put out the fires. The crew got their boat out, and when the vessel's decks were level with the sea, they abandoned her. This was not far from the Bar Lightship, so that the steamer must have drifted a few miles before she sank. The men were, fortunately, fallen in with by the river flat Llanfair, bound for Widnes and, by her, they were rescued and brought into the Mersey.

Newspapers also report that she sunk in 7 fathoms of water. The location, no. 108 per chart, is a 1 mile square which lies about 1.5m WSW from the wreck of the Nestos. This is about 3 miles from the boiler wreck.


Iron Barge (for towing) built 1857 by William Simon, Jordanvale Yard, Whiteinch, Glasgow.
1 deck, no masts, 54 grt, 54 nrt, 70.3 x 17.6 x 6.8 ft, ON 28214.
In 1861 an engine was added: 2-cyl, (8.25 x 16 inch), 8nhp, screw, by the shipbuilder; now 49 nrt.
Owned at Glasgow, then from 1888 by Wm. Lever, Bebington, Cheshire; registered Liverpool.
By 1895 owned Wm Burton, Sankey Hall Farm.
Voyage Penmaenmawr to Runcorn with macadam (stone chippings used for road construction).
On 2nd October 1895, driven ashore on West Hoyle Bank with loss of Captain John Burton and 2 crew.

From Liverpool Mercury, Thursday 03 October 1895:

  The storm raged with great severity on the coast by Rhyl, and shortly before eight o'clock a telegram was received at Rhyl from the Voel Nant coastguard station, to the effect that a flat was sunk on the West Hoyle (135 per chart), and that the lifeboat was required. The Rhyl lifeboat was at once launched, about a mile and a half to the east of Rhyl Pier, but it was with great difficulty, in consequence of the heavy sea, that they cleared the shore and proceeded to the place indicated by the telegram. They failed to find any trace of the wreck. The lifeboat was afterwards beached near the Point of Ayr, and the crew were informed that the Point of Ayr boat had been out previously, also that two men had been seen between seven and eight o'clock clinging to the rigging, and that the mast went overboard with them. The crew left the boat at the place and intended searching on the ebb tide. The unfortunate boat seems to have been the Liverpool steam flat Renfrew. All on board were lost. It is supposed she carried four hands[3 later quoted]. She can now be seen in an upright position as the tide ebbs. Her hull is entire, but her mast is gone.

Another report: The report that the steam flat Renfrew had been sunk off Rhyl in the gale created considerable excitement in Runcorn from the fact that she traded there and that two of her crew belonged to the town. The engineer is Thomas Lloyd, of Fox-street, who leaves a widow and eight children, and the captain is John Burton, Cavendish-street, who leaves a large family. The mate is Carrington, of Bootle, Liverpool. The flat belonged to Mr. W. Burton, Sankey and Liverpool.

There was much discussion in the Liverpool papers about the failure of the Point of Ayr Lifeboat to save the crew, and also mention of a previous failure when the Minnie Browne was lost (on 12 Dec 1894 with the whole crew of 19 drowned) in a similar position. One issue was that management of the lifeboat had passed from Mersey Docks and Harbour Board to the RNLI in 1894. In this discussion, it is stated that the Minnie Browne was lost at no. 136 per chart but the Renfrew, though lost at no. 135 per chart, was only a half a mile SE of the Minnie Browne location.

The boiler wreck lies at no. 136 per chart - but very near the boundary with no. 135 per chart.

The Shipwreck Index quotes "reported later to have been refloated" - but the Merchant Navy List ceases to record the vessel after 1895, the shipbuilder's web-site quotes "became a total loss", and all newspaper reports I have found say "wreck" and make no mention of salvage.

See report (and summary ) for discussion of identification of wreckage (of boiler) as seen by divers.
  From the reported position of sinking given above; the Renfrew seems closer. This needs to be confirmed by checking if wreckage of hull is wooden or iron.