The Wreck of the Brackley 1903

The Wreck of the "Brackley". 1903

Big Gale in Wicklow.

A storm of terrific violence visited Wicklow and district on Thursday night. Downpours of rain and sleet at intervals accompanied the gale. About 8 o’clock the watchman at the Coastguard station and had a vessel under observation for some time. He was unable to make out her lights and on finding that she was near the shore at the Murrough, a coastguard was dispatched along the beach .

The life-saving apparatus was then got in readiness, and the horses warned. The lights from the vessel being observed to shine close in, the signal for calling the crew of the rocket apparatus together was fired, and the summons was responded to by nearly everyone in the locality. The apparatus was got out, and without waiting for the horses proceeded down the town at a rapid pace, and along the Murrough beach.

The task of getting the apparatus up the Murrough Road was extremely difficult, the wheels being up to the axles. Willing hands, however, dragged it along at a brisk pace the crew being preceded by a number of lights. When opposite the Chemical Works, the light from the distressed vessel disappeared, and the apparatus was then halted. A search party then proceeded accompanied by Mr. John Tuke, R.N. with surf lines and buoys, and those who remained with the apparatus were informed that if the apparatus was required a signal would be made. The search party proceeded about three miles along the beach, but nothing was to be seen, and a signal was made for their recall. In the meantime the horses had not arrived, and the apparatus was taken back part of the way home by the men.

They had only been a few minutes in the return journey, when a danger signal requiring assistance was observed. This flare–up showed the outlines of the vessel which appeared to be drifting rapidly on to the shore. The crew at once took the apparatus back along the beach, a distance of about three miles, till opposite the distressed vessel, when long lights were burned and answered from the vessel. The lights displayed her position, but she was too far off for communication to be effected from the shore, As the vessel, drifted the apparatus continued to move with her along the beach. During this time a relentless downpour of rain and sleet, mingled with sand, prevailed, everyone of those who formed the crew or otherwise being completely drenched to the skin.

When it was found that no assistance could be rendered a signal for the lifeboat was then made, and shortly afterwards the lifeboat was launched and proceeded to the vessel, whose lights could be seen at times by the crew of the apparatus who were powerless to do anything, as the vessel was off a distance of 800 or 900 yards, As soon as the signal was seen from the lifeboat that the crew had been taken off, and were making for Wicklow, the apparatus was about to return, when the horses appeared on the scene. They were yoked to it, but owing to the animals being cold, they would not draw it, and after several trials, they broke their traces. Rope traces were then made, and the crew, assisting the horses, moved the apparatus for about a mile, when the horses refused to do any further work. They were unyoked by orders of Mr. Tuke, and the men with the apparatus, dragged it to the station , at which they arrived about 2.30 o’clock a.m.

The vessel in distress was the ‘Brackley’. When the lifeboat reached it they found the crew , which comprised the captain, W. Holingsworth, 3 men and a boy, all of which in an exhausted condition. On the boats arrival at Wicklow harbour, they were cheered by the crowd, which, notwithstanding the downpours, waited on the pier for their return. In returning to Wicklow, the lifeboat lost its mizzen-mast, but otherwise everything worked all right.

Reference; Wicklow News-Letter 28th.February 1903.

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