Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset


The Berrow Ship Wreck
The story behind the remains of a beached ship near Burnham-On-Sea

For more images of the Berrow Wreck, see our photo gallery and 360 degree panoramic images.

When the tide goes out at Berrow, near Burnham-On-Sea, the bones of a long dead ship stick out of the sands as a stark reminder of a savage gale and a gallant rescue at the end of the last century.

It all started during the first days of March 1897 when a howling south westerly gale swept up the Bristol Channel, bringing with it high seas, driving snow and sleet.

Many ships soon found themselves in distress, among them the Norwegian barque SS Nornen which had tried out to ride out the storm in the lee of the Lundy Roads but had found her anchors dragging. She was being driven towards Berrow mud flats. The crew desperately tied to save her, but were fighting a losing cause.

The heroic rescue of the ship's crew
The John Godfrey Morris lifeboatWhen the mists cleared on the morning of March 3, the crippled ship was spotted just off Gore Sands, her sails blown to rags by the gale. Down the ramp to her aid went the Burnham lifeboat, the John Godfrey Morris (pictured right), which had been on station at the town for the last ten years.

Launched down the rails on the jetty, the lifeboat with its crew of ten oarsmen battled through high seas and winds to the SS Nornen. Despite the gale, the lifeboat managed to get alongside the helpless ship, just as she was being driven onto the sands.

The ship's crew of ten, together with their dog, were taken off by the lifeboat and landed safely at Burnham at three o'clock in the afternoon. The rescue is recorded on the honours board of rescues made by the three lifeboats at Burnham during the period from 1867 to 1930 and which today stands in the entrance to the Burnham RNLI Station.

Wreck remains there today
After the rescue, the sea pounded and smashed the ship and although attempts were made to lighten and refloat her, she was finally sold as a wreck. Today, when the tide goes out, children play amid the timbers of the ship wreck, which lies just north of St Mary's Parish Church at Berrow, just south of Brean. But when the wind blows and the big seas start to roll in, it doesn't take much imagination to see again that gallant rescue of not so long ago.

See our interactive 360 degree panoramic image of the Berrow Wreck.

More Burnham history...

Other Burnham buildings
Lighthouses
Burnham Pier
The Burnham Lifeboat
Burnham Historical Photos
Burnham Seafront
St Andrew's Church
Important Dates in Burnham's history

Burnham History

 


BURNHAM NEWS
This week's weather forecast
News for Burnham-On-Sea
Photo gallery
Tide times for Burnham

BURNHAM COMMUNITY
Events diary
Burnham-On-Sea library
Council & utilities
Housing associations
Doctors and dentists
Burnham Groups & Clubs
Schools in Burnham
Mother & toddler groups
Churches in Burnham
Refuse disposal points
Advice services in Burnham
More Burnham Web sites
Contact Burnham's MP
Local TV listings today

TOURISM INFORMATION
Visiting Burnham
Guide books on Burnham
Hotels and B&Bs
Send a Burnham e-postcard
Places to visit in the area
Carnivals

BURNHAM TRAVEL
Maps for Burnham-On-Sea
Rail travel to Burnham
Visit Burnham by coach
Buses & public transport

BURNHAM SHOPPING
Restaurants in Burnham
Somerset souvenirs
Property hunting in Burnham
Chemists in Burnham
Banks & building societies

ABOUT THIS SITE
Who we are
Contact Us
Advertise on this site
Bookmark this site