Nid oes gennych resi chwilio datblygedig. Ychwanegwch un trwy glicio ar y botwm '+ Ychwanegu Rhes'

Helvetia (UKHO 12338)

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The bow section of the HELVETIA is visible above the sand at low tide at the south end of Rhossili Beach. The site was visited by the RCAHMW on 8 April 2024 and a photogrammetry survey of the extant remains was undertaken which can be viewed here:

The most notable feature of the wreck is the stem-post, marking the bow of the ship, which stands 2.5m clear of the sand. This leans to starboard at an angle of c.30 degrees, suggesting that the remaining hull may also be heeled over in the same direction. At the time of the most recent RCAHMW survey the remains of the HELVETIA were visible for a length of 18m along the port side and 9m along the starboard side. Thirty-six frame ends were visible on the port side, and twenty-five on the starboard side. The remains of a large stringer, or ceiling planking, were also visible on the starboard side, immediately aft of the stem-post timbers. Ceiling planking and external planing were visible on the starboard side, but were inaccessible within the large scour pool that had formed around the wreck.

Although often considered fragmented, it is worth noting that the extant remains recorded in April 2024 account for about 40% of the length of the original vessel. The angle of visible frame timbers further suggests that a significant part of the original ship is still buried within the sand. Further wooden remains, which are likely to be frame ends, lie 42m to the south-southwest of the stem-post. This correlates almost exactly with the overall length of the original ship, indicating that further sections of hull lie to the south-southwest of the main extant element, and that the lower hull of the ship may be substantially intact and preserved within the sand.

Two other NMRW records in the same part of the beach are likely to be duplicate records also reporting the presence of the archaeological remains of the HELVETIA: NPRN 240848 and NPRN 302178.

Event and Historical Information:
The HELVETIA was a wooden barque built in 1858 at Bremerhaven. It was 438 net tons, 135.5ft (41.3m) in length, 27.8ft wide (8.47m), and 17.2ft (5.24m) depth. At the time of its loss, the ship was Norwegian registered at Horten, and owned by L. Jacobsen.

On 1 Movember 1887 the HELVETIA was under the command of Master E. Svendsen and sailing from Campbeltown, New Brunswick, to Swansea with a cargo of timber, when it was caught in a gale off the Mumbles Head. Before the ship's request for a Swansea pilot to come onboard to assist the crew navigate the barque into Swansea harbour, the southeasterly gale grew worse. The HELVETIA was blown down channel to run aground on the Helwick Sandbank. The barque was then lifted across the sandbank by the heavy seas and to come to rest in Rhossili Bay where an anchor was dropped.

The Rhossili lifesaving company fired a rocket onboard, which enabled her Master to get ashore and explain his position. He refused to abandon ship, since he did not wish local fishermen to claim the HELVETIA as a derelict. However, the wind then swung into the west, and the HELVETIA commenced to drag its anchor. The remainder of the crew were all forced to come ashore. The next morning the HELVETIA was found on the beach, with the cargo of timber scattered over the sands. The timber was gathered and auctioned over the following weeks, with local timber merchants employing local boats and ships to remove the timber deals.

A stranded wreck was reported at this location in December 1951 and is listed by the UKHO as UKHO ID 12338. In recent years the wreck has become a much photographed landmark.

Sources include:
Larn and Larn shipwreck database 2002

Lloyds Register 1887, Sailing, H606

Rees, P H, 1978, Gower Shipwrecks, p69-71

RCAHMW Photogrammetry Survey 08/04/2024: 

UKHO ID 12338: Contains public sector information, licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0, from UK Hydrographic Office.

J. Whitewright, RCAHMW, April 2024.

application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.spreadsheetml.sheetPGS - RCAHMW Photogrammetry CollectionMetadata associated with photogrammetric intertidal survey of HELVETIA (UKHO 12338), Rhossili. Produced by Dr Julian Whitewright of RCAHMW, 8 April 2024.
application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.spreadsheetml.sheetPGS - RCAHMW Photogrammetry CollectionTechnical documentation associated with photogrammetric intertidal survey of HELVETIA (UKHO 12338), Rhossili. Produced by Dr Julian Whitewright of RCAHMW, 8 April 2024. Includes raw data, point cloud, model, metadata and technical documentation.