Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy Falmouth and the Cornish beaches, and from The Captain’s House and coastal paths there are stunning scenic views across the sea. Looking out on the Carrick Roads from The Captain’s House you can imagine how it was a superb safe haven for many a ship when storms raged at sea.
But as you enjoy your ice cream on the beach spare a thought to days gone by when some of the visitors to this coast didn’t have it quite so good. Over the last three hundred years many ships filled with troops, travellers and cargo have crashed along this coastline when they were overwhelmed by the power of the sea.
Looking back through an historical list of shipwrecks it is interesting to see that it was pretty rare for ships to crash in the summer months, although in July 1816 the Jonge Anthony was travelling from Lisbon to Amsterdam with a cargo of tea, salt and cocoa when it crashed into the Loe Bar near the Lizard Peninsula. Luckily all the crew managed to get ashore.
Only two years earlier, in January, occurred the worst shipwreck ever to happen in Falmouth, a Government ship called Queen carrying British troops and their families back from the Peninsula war was not as lucky. They took shelter from a storm in the Carrick Roads. An excellent anchorage for many a ship in a storm – except when there is an easterly wind.
The Captain, his crew and 250 of the soldiers and their families were killed when the ship dragged its anchor and crashed into the shore at Trefusis Point (which you can see just in front of you from the front bedroom of The Captain’s House). All these poor people died no more than half a mile away in the supposed haven of the Fal. A few lucky people managed to scramble ashore across the rocks. You can see the moving memorial stone at Mylor Churchyard.
Cornwall’s rocky coastline offers beauty along with its sad and brave stories of shipwreck and rescue. I have only mentioned two of the thousands of stories. You can find out more at the Maritime Museum or you could take a sea safari boat trip and see the stunning coastline and hear about some more recent shipwrecks. – see here