Blackpool and the Fylde coast has become a ship graveyard to a number of vessels over the years. Most of the shipwrecks occurred at or near Blackpool, whilst a few happened a little further afield but have strong connections with the Blackpool area. For the purposes of this article, Blackpool means the stretch of coast from Fleetwood to Lytham St Annes.
Travers – 1755
Travers was wrecked in 1755 with a cargo of lace.
The "Pea Soup" wreck – 1779
In the autumn of 1779 a ship laden with peas was wrecked at Blackpool.
Happy – 1797
Fanny – 1821
Fanny was wrecked off the coast of Blackpool in 1821, laden with red and black flannel.
Wreck at the Gynn – 1833
A ship was wrecked at the Gynn in 1833.
Crusader – 1839
Aristocrat – 1840
William Henry – 1861
St Michael – 1864
St Michael was wrecked at Blackpool on 18 September 1864. The new lifeboat rescued the crew of fourteen.
Favourite – 1865
Lexington – 1865
Bessie Jones – 1880
Arethusa – 1882
Arethusa was wrecked off Blackpool in 1882, ten people were saved.
Sirene – 1892
The Norwegian ship Sirene was sailing from Fleetwood to Florida in the United States on 9 October 1892 when it was caught up in a hurricane and smashed into North pier, destroying part of the pier. The eleven crew members jumped onto the pier to safety. The ship's wheel is housed in Blackpool lifeboat house. The anchor from the ship was donated to the Borough of Middleton and can be seen resting against the library wall in Long Street. Mr Hulbert, a local iron and coal merchant, had the contract to dismantle the wreck.
SS Huntcliff – 1894
The tramp steamer SS Huntcliff had been anchored off Llandudno on 12 February 1894 when the anchor chain snapped. She was beached between Squires Gate and St. Annes, being refloated 11 days later. The beach became a temporary fairground.
Abana – 1894
On 22 December 1894, the Norwegian ship, Abana was sailing from Liverpool to Florida but was caught up in a storm and mistook the then recently built Blackpool Tower for a lighthouse. Abana was first seen off North Pier but by the time the lifeboat, which had to be towed by horse from Blackpool to Bispham, had been launched it had drifted to Little Bispham where it was wrecked. The ship's bell still hangs in St Andrews Church in Cleveleys. The remains of the Abana are still visible at low tide on the beach at Little Bispham. On the same day as Abana hit the pier, a fishing boat from Fleetwood, Petrel, was also driven ashore by the same storm close to Uncle Tom's Cabin at North Shore.
HMS Foudroyant – 1897
HMS Foudroyant, which had been used by Nelson as his flagship from 6 June 1799 until the end of June 1801, was wrecked on 16 June 1897, during a fund-raising voyage around the coast of Great Britain. Foudroyant came to Blackpool from Southport on 4 June and anchored two miles out to sea between Central and North piers. Just before 6am on 16 June the ship was caught up in a hurricane-force storm and broke anchor. She drifted toward land, and just missed the jetty at North pier before hitting the shore slightly to the north at Cocker Square. The ship was then bought by a local syndicate who made souvenirs from the wood. Most of the ship though was broken up in a storm in November 1897.
Commandant Bultinck – 1929
MV Thorium – 1964
Holland XXIV – 1981
MS Riverdance – 2008
On 31 January 2008, Riverdance a roll-on/roll-off ferry in service on the Irish Sea, was travelling from Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland to Heysham when it ran into trouble at about 19:30. A total of twenty-three people were airlifted from the ferry, which ran aground on the beach at Anchorsholme, Blackpool, opposite Anchorsholme Lane West at about 22:50. The ship was beached very close to the remains of Abana. On 1 February a 400-metre exclusion zone was placed around the stricken ferry and it was revealed that the ferry could be stranded on the beach for some time before salvage teams could remove her. The ship suffered further structural damage during storms on 12 March, and it was announced on 10 April that all attempts to refloat her had been abandoned and that she was to be scrapped on site.
Coco Leoni – 2008
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