Friday, 5 February 2016

The tragedy of the "Amy Isabel," North Sea fishing smack, 6th Feb 1897

'STORM AT BRIDLINGTON QUAY, EAST RIDING OF YORKSHIRE, 10 FEBRUARY 1871' by John Taylor Allerston (1888) original painting now displayed in the Sewerby Hall Museum & Art Gallery

This week marks the anniversary of the natural disaster this dramatic image captures, the 'Great Gale' that struck the East Coast of Yorkshire in the stormy February of 1871. 

One of my own ancestors, George William Barrass (1864-6th February 1897) was also drowned in a February storm. He drowned when his boat was hit by a freak wave 70 miles NE by ENE of Spurn Point in the North Sea fishing grounds some call the "Silver Pits". He and his brother were aboard a small craft boarding fish onto the fishing smack "Amy Isabel."

His youngest brother Samuel Barrass was saved from the capsized boat and both made it almost as far as the rescue ship. But when young Sam looked back, his brother had gone under. The sea takes no prisoners and his body was never recovered.

The repercussions and ripples from the sad event went on, and Samuel was one of the witnesses at the subsequent inquiry. His testimony makes the event live again in all its vivid and tragic detail. Below are a couple of the documents that survive of the reporting at the time.

Here is an earlier blogpost I shared with more details of the event and the ancestry I share with the victims.

'Daily Mail 18th March 1897

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