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January 9, 2023

The Wreck of the Arden Craig, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly, 1911

This is not a painting! The photograph was taken in 1911 by Francis James Mortimer (1874–1944), a pioneer of pictorial photography. The sea his favorite subject, he captured the shipwreck Arden Craig, a three-masted wheat ship that slammed into rocks in nine feet of water after the captain became disoriented in a heavy fog.

An article from The Barrier Miner (New South Wales). Tue 10 Jan 1911 reads:
“The wheat ship, Arden Craig, from Melbourne, which foundered in a fog at the Scilly Isles, off the English coast, called at Queenstown, and was ordered to proceed to Calais.

Distress guns fired from the ship were heard at Bishop Lighthouse, and led" to tho launching" of the St. Mark and St. Agnes lifeboats. The fog lifted, for half an hour, and afterwards the ship struck.

The watchers on the Scilly Isles saw tho Arden Craig drifting, with its foreyard aback. An hour later it rolled to port and foundered.

A sensation was created ashore until the boats were seen alongside.

Captain Dunning, of the Arden Craig, states that he thought he was 20 miles south off the Scilly Isles, when he was really only three miles away.

When the ship came off the rocks there was nine feet of water in the hold. It was ubandoned, as it was impossible to save it.”

From The Barrier Miner (New South Wales). Tue 10 Jan 1911.

The Arden Craig was a British cargo ship built in 1886. She was used to transport wheat from Melbourne, Australia to ports o the coast the United Kingdom. Her captain was Thomas Dunning. It was 277.7 feet long and 40 feet wide. Her draft when loaded was 24.9 feet. She weighed 2,153 tons. She was built by Russell & Co. of Port Glasgow on the Clyde river in Scotland. The Arden Craig was propelled by 149 square yards of sail on three masts. Her hull was iron/steel.


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