One vessel that became known as an ‘unlucky’ ship was the Amy Summerfield, built for the Summerfield Co Ltd of Liverpool, a coal burning coastal steamer, she was relatively small as well at only 407 tons, and she also had an open wheelhouse, which was the norm on many vessels back then. She called at Porth Ysgo Rhiw twice to load manganese, both times in 1922, on March the 27th , and April the 3rd. But in December of that year, she was discovered abandoned and adrift in the Irish sea by the ‘The Four Brothers’. Some seamen boarded her, to claim salvage rights, but unfortunately she sank at the mouth of the River Mersey, and two of them lost their lives. She was soon re-floated, and continued trading, but in March 1927 she was sold off to W A Savage & Co, but they continued to use her original name, which was rather surprising, as it was usual to change the names of ships that had sunk, especially where loss of life occurred.
"Amy with her open
On the 23rd of March 1949 the Amy Summerfield
once again got into difficulties this time in the Ribble Estuary where she
collided in dense fog with the ‘Pass of Liny’ but fortunately this time, no
one was injured.
Her final passage at the grand old age of 30, on the 23rd
of March 1951, (now sporting a wheelhouse!!!) was to the jetty at Caernant
quarry Nant Gwrtheyrn, on the north coast of Llyn, (was it fate or coincidence
that she had been in difficulty, on the same date two years earlier?)
The Amy Summerfield was a frequent visitor, and had
called at Caernant only a few days earlier, but because of the stormy conditions
she had to return to Liverpool without her cargo of stone sets. The Skipper knew
that it would be impossible to come alongside in such weather, and had decided
to return to the Mersey, where he was reprimanded by his employers, and sent
immediately back to Caernant, to load his cargo. With the threat of dismissal
hanging over him, if he returned a second time empty handed. The company were
determined to make a profit at all costs (or so it would appear).
The weather conditions hadn’t changed when the Amy Summerfield returned to Llyn, if anything the winds had strengthened, and her crew tried desperately to pass a line to the gang on the jetty, but in the howling wind they failed to catch hold of it, and as a result the mooring line fell into the sea, and immediately entangled in her prop. The little ship was now at the mercy of the sea yet again, as she had lost all power, and was duly blown onto the beach, and her stern embedded into the jetty, threatening to cause severe damage to it, if the winds strengthened yet again.
"Little Amy, high and dry"
After inspecting her, the insurance company decided that
the damage was too severe and the cost of getting her off the beach, and
re-floating her, would be more than she was worth, so she was put up for sale.
Within a few days a scrap dealer from Harlech William
Williams bought her.
She had been holed by a sharp rock, and attempts to
repair it, and tow her to Port Dinorwig on the Menai straits for scrapping,
failed, and it was soon realised that she
would have to be scrapped on the beach where she lay.
The owners of the quarry ‘Crofts Co’ wanted her
moved as soon as possible, as they were loosing money, as no ships could come
alongside to load. And there were also fears that if a westerly winds came up
she would batter the jetty causing severe damage, and months of disruption to
the exports from the quarry.
As there was sufficient coal left in her bunkers, it was decided to flash up her boilers, so that they could get steam to her windlass, and large ropes were used to drag the Amy Summerfield further along the beach, and out of the way. William Williams next problem was, how to get the tons of steel from such an inaccessible location, the only possible way was through the village of Nant Gwrtheyrn itself, not an easy task when you consider the steep and winding road that leads up from the village.
At this time the army was selling off much of its
machinery, and William Williams bought a multi terrain vehicle that could tackle
the steep track up from the Nant, and bit by bit little Amy was slowly
dismantled, although not quite completely, and remains of this tragic little
ship could still be seen down on the beach at Nant Gwrtheyrn, where I took these
photographs in 1980.
Thanks to Mr Gwilym Jones, Tudweiliog, who researched this sad story for Rhiw.com.
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