The Schooner Sparling

1815 ~ 1910

When I started the Llŷn and the sea section of rhiw.com over two years ago, we borrowed a fantastic collection of photographs from Mr & Mrs Owen of Mynytho. Amongst the many fine images, was one of the schooner "Sparling" discharging coal at the western end of Abersoch beach. But looking closer at other photographs in the collection, I found another two images of her unloading lime next to the kiln at the mouth of the river Soch. And within days I was e-mailed an image of a schooner on Llanbedrog beach, and on close examination, again I established that she was the Sparling. I find this quite fascinating, for the same vessel to crop up so many times, I even saw a painting of her, which I managed to scan. She must have been a very regular visitor to Llŷn, with all these images of her. But there was no mention of her in any of the port records that we have managed to get hold of.

The Sparling was built originally as a sloop at Frodsham, Cheshire in 1815. She was 62ft from stem to stern, with a beam of 15ft and a depth of 7ft. She had a standing bow-sprit, a round stern, and was carvel built, registered net tonnage 52, and grossed 85. The round stern, made identifying her in photographs much easier, as the majority of the little ships that called at Llŷn had transoms, of some type or other, and indeed, most of the Llŷn built vessels had transoms as well. Her first owners were Ellison & Co., Liverpool, and she was registered at the port until at least 1855, Official No; 8688. She doesn't appear in Lloyds Register after 1840. But in 1881, now schooner rigged, she was owned by David Pugh, Menai Street, Port Dinorwic, Caernarvonshire, and registered at Chester. According to the 1881 census for the vessels at Liverpool, she had a crew of three; Master, (owner) David Pugh, 58, married and born at Barmouth Meirioneth. Mate, John Williams, 32, Married, Gaerwen, Anglesey, and Ordinary Seaman, Owen R Williams, 19, unmarried, Newboro also on Anglesey.

On the 22nd of February 1910, at the grand old age of 95, the Sparling slipped her moorings at the port of Garston, on the river Mersey, and set sail with a cargo of coal for the Anglesey port of Beaumaris. A journey she must have undertaken dozens of times in her long life. Whether through a foul tide or severe weather, we will never know. But she came ashore between Crosby and Formby at the mouth of the river Alt, and was wrecked. Both crewmen were picked up from their own boat by the Steamer Allison, and landed at Alfred Dock Liverpool that evening. The wreck was sold to J. Hughes of Crosby, for 5 on the 5th of March, and she was broken up by him and removed.

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Shipwreck details from Chris Holden.

Llanbedrog photograph from Mrs G Hughes.

Ship spec, from Dom, at Shipsnostalgia.

Other details, from the book "Ventures in Sail" by the late Aled Eames, with the help of, Hugh Mclean.

Many thanks to you all.

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The Sparling wreck photograph was e-mailed to us last November (2005), by a gentleman from Merseyside,  shortly before our desktop computer crashed, and we lost his contact details. So could you please get in touch with us again, so we can credit you, Thank you.

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