Adolphe Wreck

Viewed from the ferry from Stockton to Queen’s Wharf, the sea wall is found to contain many wrecked ships and boats. One of the most famous is the ‘Adolphe’. This ship, a French four-masted barque, was arriving into Newcastle’s port from Antwerp on 30 September 1904. Around 9 o’clock in the morning on that day, the two tugs, ‘Hero’ and ‘Victoria’, went out to meet the ‘Adolphe’. The pilot, Mr Stevenson, started to guide them into harbour, but, as they rounded the southern breakwater, all three ships were hit by a huge sea, disabling ‘Victoria’. By itself, the tug ‘Hero’ was unable to keep control of the ‘Adolphe’. The next set of waves lifted the ‘Adolphe’ right on top of the remnants of a previous wreck: that of the ‘Colonist’. They say it was a weird sight — one doomed vessel stuck atop another. The miracle was that the lifeboat, under the command of Coxswain A. McKinnon, managed to save everyone on board although they had it really tough too — they broke at least four oars trying to get around the stern but finally the lifeboat crew got near enough to take off everyone to the applause of thousands of spectators.

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