You have no advanced search rows. Add one by clicking the '+ Add Row' button

Albion (UKHO 12056)

Loading Map
Map ReferenceSM70NE
Grid ReferenceSM7695107576
Unitary (Local) AuthorityMaritime
Old CountyMaritime
Type Of SiteWRECK
PeriodPost Medieval

The wreck the paddle steamer ALBION, lies on the beach at Albion Sands (named after the ship). At mid-to-low tide one of the crankshafts is visible protruding vertically above the sand and/or sea. Other parts of the ship still survive in-situ and are visible when the distribution of sand across the beach allows it, by lowering the sand levels on the site itself. The major storms of the winter 2013/14 scoured the site, revealing a large amount of wooden hull, and the framework of the paddle wheel attached to the surviving crankshaft.

The site has been monitored by the RCAHMW on a regular basis since 2017 as part of the CHERISH project. This has resulted in the installation of permanent survey markers to allow the effective use of high-precision GPS to record the location of extant structural and mechanical remains visible during monitoring visits undertaken since 2017. In April 2022 scouring of the site allowed detailed overhead photography to be undertaken at a time when the surviving archaeological remains were in a relatively high state of visibility.

Extensive and invaluable research into the loss of the Albion has been undertaken by Christopher Jessop, of Marloes, who also undertakes regular, ongoing monitoring of the site.

Event and Historical Information:
The ALBION was a wooden paddle steamer built at Bristol in 1831 by the General Steam Packet Company (the builder's certificate on the registry is dated 28 September 1831). The original subscribing owners to the ship's Bristol registry include Daniel Stanton (8 shares), John Gilmore (3 shares), and George Lunel (4 shares). The remaining 49 shares were spread amongst 14 individuals and two companies - Parsons, Harle and Company (6 shares) and the Bristol Steam Packet Co (5 shares). Between 1831 and 1836 a great many of the individually owned shares were transferred to a new joint stock company, the Bristol General Steam Navigation Company, who were operating the ship at the time of its loss in 1837.

Technical and configuration specifications are given as 270 tons, length 150ft 9in, breath above the wales 25ft 2in, height between decks 6ft 6in, 2 decks, 2 masts, schooner rigged (propelled by steam), square stern, quarter galleries, and a female figurehead. The vessel was launched on 9 July 1831 amongst much celebration and became known for its fast sailings across the Irish Sea between Bristol and Cork. In 1835, the ALBION underwent a thorough re-fit which included two new boilers. In September 1836, the paddle steamer equaled the record for the Dublin to Bristol run of 21.5 hours.

On Tuesday 18 April 1837, the paddle steamer was returning from Ireland under Captain George Bailey. Perhaps in pursuit of another record passage, Captain Bailey steered a direct course taking ALBION through Jack Sound off the westernmost tip of Pembrokeshire, between Middle Island (just to the east of Skomer Island) and the mainland (now called 'The Deer Park'). Accounts vary, but officially Captain Bailey was forced to change course in Jack Sound to avoid running down a rowing boat with four men on board striking a rock while doing so. Other sources have claimed that a rock was struck simply through dint of taking the direct route through Jack Sound. The impact forced ALBION onto its side, but the vessel righted itself and was freed. But the damage was fatal and the ship began to take on water. Captain Bailey headed for the shore of the mainland and beached the ALBION on a small beach on the northern site of Gateholm Island.

In the ensuing rescue, all of the passengers, some 180 of the 400 pigs being carried as live cargo, five horses, and majority of the luggage and moveable goods were saved, along with a quantity of sprits and porter. One of the owners attended the scene which allowed much of the salvaged materials to be sold from beach and the vessel was broken up for scrap. The vessel had cost £20,000 to build and was only insured for £5,000. Since the loss of the ship, the small beach has been known as Albion Sands.

RCAHMW survey as part of the CHERISH project in April 2022 allowed the creation of a digital 3D model of the site here



Sources include:
Bennett, T, 1987, Shipwrecks around Wales Vol 1, pg15-6
Harris, G. 1993, Early Bristol Paddle-steamer Shipwrecks, pg45-52
Jessop, C. 2017. Disastrous shortcut through Jack Sound [wreck of the Albion], Pembrokeshire Life April 2017, 11-13
Goodard, T, 1983, Pembrokeshire Shipwrecks, pg75
Larn and Larn Shipwreck Database 2002
Port of Bristol Shipping Register 1830 - 1835, folio 49, Bristol Record Office 37908/1/4

UKHO ID 12056: Contains public sector information, licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0, from UK Hydrographic Office.

J. Whitewright, RCAHMW, July 2022

CHERISH PROJECT 2017. Produced with EU funds through the Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme 2014-2020.

application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.spreadsheetml.sheetPGS - RCAHMW Photogrammetry CollectionMetadata associated with photogrammetric survey of the ALBION shipwreck, Albion Sands, Pembrokeshire, produced by Dr Julian Whitewright of RCAHMW, 1st April 2022. Includes raw data, point cloud, model, metadata and technical documentation