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Shipwreck revealed by shifting sands on South Shields beach – 117 years after vessel met her end

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The shifting sands of time have again revealed part of South Tyneside’s rich maritime history.

Gazette reader Ken Elliott has taken this picture of the wreck of what is believed to be the Constance Ellen –a sailing ship which foundered just south of the South Pier, South Shields, during a gale in 1901

The remains of the Constance Ellen. Picture by Ken Elliott

The remains of the Constance Ellen. Picture by Ken Elliott

The Constance Ellen is far from the only ship to be wrecked on this stretch of coastline.

The Norwegian barque Alphonse ran aground just north of Trow Rocks in 1910, spilling part of her cargo of silver sand.

The lifeboat Willie Wouldhave took off her crew of 29.

The Constance Ellen is one of the better-known wrecks in the area.

The Alphonse which ran aground near Trow Rocks in 1910

The Alphonse which ran aground near Trow Rocks in 1910

What is left of her emerges from the sand from time to time – depending on sea conditions, shifting sands and the strength of the tides.

The Littlehampton-registered ship foundered and was wrecked in the Great Gale of November 12 and 13 1901.

All eight sailors were saved. Previously, more of the wreck was exposed, but a lot of the wreckage was cleared away in the 1990s after a child was injured.

The two-masted vessel was carrying a cargo of iron bars from its home part to Bowness.

The wreck happened on the afternoon of November 12, and hurricane-force winds are said to have left the ship’s sails in shreds and led to the vessel being driven helplessly towards the shore. South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade was on standby throughout the crisis.

The crew fired five rockets over the ship before the men were taken off the ship by breeches buoy.

Thousands of people watched the operation from the shore.

Many ships damaged during the storm were re-floated, but the Constance Ellen was stuck fast because of the weight of her cargo.

The Sandwich-registered Lord Dufferin ran aground almost in the same place less than two hours after the Constance Ellen, and the Inverness-registered Golden Lily also ran into trouble in the harbour in the same storm.