IT seems appropriate that, ahead of this weekend’s Heritage Open Days, a piece of our maritime legacy has been displaying itself recently more openly than is sometimes the case.
It’s the wreck of the sailing ship Constance Ellen, which shifting sands on the South Foreshore at Shields uncover to varying degrees from time to time.
This recent picture of her remains kindly comes from Stewart Whitelaw, who says: “The wreck is more revealed than it has been for years.”
The Littlehampton-registered Constance Ellen came to grief in the Great Gale, which raged off the east coast in November 1901. All eight men aboard her were saved.
The two-masted vessel was carrying a cargo of iron bars from its home port to Bowness, one of the reasons why she stuck fast instead of – like other vessels beached by the storm – being refloated.
Thousands watched the drama unfold, as the Volunteer Life Brigade took off the crew by breeches-buoy.
More of the wreck used to exist than now, but some of it was cleared some years ago after a child was injured.
Another vessel, the Sandwich-registered Lord Dufferin, ran aground almost in the same place less than two hours later, but she was able to be got off.