The "Boaz" April 1877

The "BOAZ" April 1877

At an early hour on Monday morning a catastrophe of an extremely melancholy character occured between Ballywalter and the village of Ballyhalbert, Co. Down, at a place called the Roddens, a dangerous part of the coast, which is anually the scene of numerous shipwrecks, whereby five lives were lost. The weather on Sunday night and Monday morning was rough and rainy, and about half past five o’clock a smack was seen helplessly driving ashore in Ballyhalbert Bay, about a half mile from the Roddens Coastguard station. She proved to be the "Boaz", of Carnarvon, bound from Glasgow to Dundalk with a cargo of coal. She struck on a sunken reef, and immediately filled and sank. The crew, consisting of the captain, a man, and a boy, took to the rigging, and as a heavy sea was breaking over the vessel it was feared she would immediately go to pieces. The look-out of the coastguards at once gave the alarm, and without delay Mr. John Aiken, chief officer, and his men, John Rees, James Greenham, Hollingshead, and William Coffin launched the galley to go to the rescue. Mr. John Bell, of Ballyhalbert, Lloyd’s agent and Captain Ballie, of Ballywalter, joined the coastguards in the perilous enterprise, and the brave fellows pulled off to save the crew of the ship. They succeeded, by almost superhuman efforts, in getting sufficiently near the wreck to throw a life-line to the men, and with great difficulty got them safely into the boat and made for the shore, but a heavy ground swell caught the galley, and in an instant ten brave fellows were battling for life with the waves. Only five succeeded in reaching land, and those in a most exhausted state. Bell, Bailee, Rees, the captain, and the boy from the wreck were lost. A number of people gathered on the shore to render assistance, and it is said that Miss Bella Clingen rushed into the water and caught one of the coastguards in the surf and aided him in successfully landing. The bodies of Captain Bailie and Mr. Bell were washed ashore. This melancholy event has created a profound impression of sadness in the neighbourhood.

Shipwreck at The Roddens. The BOAZ. 14th. April 1877

At the Inquest

JAMES GRENHAM. - I am a coastguard, stationed at Roddens. John Rees, the coastguard, who was drowned, was on the look-out yesterday morning, He reported, about ten minutes to five o'clock, that a vessel was on shore, with the hands clinging to the rigging. We all turned out as soon as possible. There were four of us with the Officer. We immediately got the boat out, and John Aiken, Officer, and four of us went, as also John Bell and Robert Bailie, both of whom volunteered to go out to the rescue of the men. The boat is a good one but very heavy. The sea was boisterous, with broken water. We got to the vessel all right, and she proved to be a smack named the Boaz. We got the men who were clinging to the rigging all right in our boat, which was not overladen. We backed her astern on coming back, to enable us to keep her head to the sea. It would have been more dangerous had we attempted to turn the boat. When about forty yards from the vessel a very heavy sea struck her bows, and put her broadside on - just what we wanted to avoid. The next sea filled her up to the thwart (seats). The third sea turned the boat right over, and threw all the hands out. We did everything in our power to prevent that. We then did our best to retain the shore, and when in shallow water were taken hold of by the people on the beach. I was much exhausted at the time. I did not see the deceased alive after he was thrown into the water. He was a good swimmer. The boat was afterwards washed in.

- I am a coastguard stationed at the Roddens, about two miles from Ballyhalbert. I got word yesterday morning that a vessel was in danger, and men in the rigging. We launched the boat. I got a horse from Henry Murland, and drew the boat abreast the vessel. That woild be about fifteen minutes past five o'clock. Just as we were launching the boat deceased came up and helped us. He volunteered to go into the boat with us. There were four of us and the officer, with John Bell and Captain Bailey. We succeeded in taking the crew off - three in number - by a rope. We endeavoured to come back, but the sea was rough, with breakers, and the boat swamped, and all of us were thrown out into the water. I gave Rees, who was lost, an oar, and told him to stick to that. I then saw the boy belonging to the vessel, and he was screaming. I next saw Captain Bailey with his face down in the water. He had made his way three parts of the way to the shore and appeared to be exhausted. I could render no , the waves were so great. It was impossible to assist each other. I did not see the deceased (Bell) after the boat 'canted', but I assisted to restore the body of Captain Bailey. We laid him across a rock, and he was throwing up water from his mouth and nose. His body was warm. Had the people taken him to his house, and the usual remedies been adopted, he might have been saved. We were nearly all exhausted, I think I was the least, as I got ashore first. I heard that Mr. Bells legs got entangled with the rope which he had in the boat, and with which we took the men from the wreck. I was assisted to the shore by a woman, but I do not know her.

12th.April 1877. We are glad to see that the thanks of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, inscribed on vellum, have been presented to Miss Clinghan, daughter of a farmer residing near Ballywalter, for rushing into the surf and assisting (as previously described in this journal) to save five out of ten men who were coming ashore in the coastguard boat which capsized in the heavy sea, and drowned five men.

The sum of £10 was also granted to the boats crew for their praiseworthy services in thus going promptly to the help of those on the wreck.

Reference: The Newtownards Chronicle, 14th.April 1877 + 12th.May 1877

1 Comment · 10224 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on April 29 2007


#1 | Bill Malcomson on 29/11/2020 12:22:41
In the article above (The Newtownards Chronicle, 14th April 1877) the wreck of the Boaz was attended by Coastguardmen from the station at Roddens which is indicated on the OS map 1846-1862 (1 mile south of Ballywalter and 2 miles north of Ballyhalbert). However I can find no other reference to the Roddens Coastguard Station in your listings and I'm curious to know why.

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