The 120th anniversary of the ship SS Nornen being washed up on Berrow beach has been remembered this week.
The rescue of ten crewmembers from the stricken ship was recalled at a history meeting on Friday night (March 3rd), exactly 120 years to the day when it ran aground.
Burnham historian John Strickland recounted how during the early part of March 1897 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.
The ship was being driven towards Berrow’s mud flats, and the crew desperately tied to save her, but were fighting a losing cause.
In the early hours of the morning on March 3rd, the crippled ship was spotted just off Gore Sands, her sails blown to rags by the gale.
Burnham-On-Sea’s lifeboat, the John Godfrey Morris, was launched down the rails on the town’s jetty – and its crew of ten oarsmen rowed through high seas and winds to reach the SS Nornen.
Despite the gale, the lifeboat managed to get alongside the helpless ship, just as she was being driven onto the beach.
The ship’s crew of ten, together with their dog, were taken off by the lifeboat and landed safely at Burnham.
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 lifeboat Station.
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, the remaining timbers of the ship wreck, which lies just to the north of St Mary’s Parish Church at Berrow, are still visible.