The Timbo

The little steamship Timbo and her crew of eight, had been sheltering in Holyhead harbour Anglesey due to the severe westerly gales that had caused much damage and disruption in the last week of November 1920, but by the morning of Friday December the 1st the wind had decreased, so she finally weighed anchor to continue her short passage in ballast from Liverpool to Ireland. No sooner had she rounded the South Stack lighthouse and into Caernarfon bay that the wind increase again to storm force, which left the little ship at the mercy of the raging sea. With her propeller and rudder more often than not, out of the water (being light ship) it became impossible to handle her. The Timbo’s master Capt Baushell had no choice but to call for assistance, as his vessel drifted ever closer to the rocky shores of Anglesey.

Edward Owen one of the Rhoscolyn lifeboat crew saw the drama unfolding, as by now the Timbo was only three miles off the coast, and he rushed down to the lifeboat station, where most of the crew of thirteen had gathered. Launching the boat was a nightmare in its self, as by now the sea was running very high, and it took the brave men of Rhoscolyn, the youngest of which, Richard Hughes only sixteen years old, a full three hours to reach the doomed Timbo. They tried four times to get a line to her, and on the fifth attempt they managed to get a four inch thick manila rope across, but it parted almost immediately. Owen Owens her coxswain had to make the sad decision to return to shore, but the lifeboat capsized almost as soon as they turned. Five of the lifeboat crew lost their lives that day including Owen Owens, young Richard Hughes and his older brother Evan.

By now the Timbo was being driven close to the Caernarvonshire coast and her storm beaches. As she approached the coast, Captain Baushell order five of his crew into a lifeboat, including sixteen year old William Jones, who was on his first trip to sea, but it was quickly overcome, and only one man reached the shore alive.

The Timbo became stranded high and dry on Dinas Dinlle beach. During the rescue attempt by the Rhoscolyn Lifeboat, five members of the lifeboat crew tragically lost their lives, along with four crew-members from the ‘Timbo’. A memorial to the sacrifice made by the lifeboat crew can be seen in Rhoscolyn Churchyard, near Holyhead. The ship remained stranded high and dry until a wooden launching ramp could be constructed and, with the aid of tugs, the ‘Timbo’ was eventually refloated. 

"Memorial to the five crewmembers of the Rhoscolyn Lifeboat"

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It continued to trade around the Welsh and Lancashire coasts, but did not survive long and was finally wrecked on Carreg-y-Trai reef off Abersoch. Bound for London, the ‘Timbo’ had just left Pwllheli when she ran on to Carreg-y-Trai reef during darkness on the evening of 15th November, 1922. The crew quickly abandoned ship and everyone reached the shore in safety. Lloyd’s Agents initially reported that the ship could be refloated if powerful pumps could quickly be sent to the scene, but by 21st November, the situation had deteriorated and the ship was described as being underwater at half-tide.

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"Last moments of the Timbo"

Built at Newcastle during 1883, the ‘Timbo’ had its boiler and engine mounted amidships to power a single propeller. The vessel also carried a spare, 2-metre diameter iron propeller, which can still be found immediately south of the reef in around 14 metres of water. The 3-metre wide boiler, two large winches, a length of propeller shaft and a tangled mass of ribs, hull-plates and girders all lie close by. The valuable condenser has already been recovered, while other heavy items such as the crankshaft have been moved and put to further use as mooring weights in Abersoch Bay. Surprisingly, a small, unmarked bell was recovered from the site as recently as May, 2002, and may be from the ‘Timbo’.

wreck_diving.jpg (47802 bytes)

"Exploring the Timbo"

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FROM LLOYD'S LIST  

Lloyd’s List Fri Nov 17th 1922. Abersoch November 16th. Steamer ‘Timbo’ of Whitby, from Pwllheli for London, grounded last night off St. Tudwal Islands and remains. Shall endeavour refloat tonight’s tide. Damage to bottom unknown.

Abersoch November 16th. Steamer ‘Timbo’ struck Half Tide Rock about 6 o’clock last night. Crew landed. Boat has been sent to ascertain position and condition of vessel.

18th Nov. Timbo. Steamer Timbo, position last night. After part full of water, hanging amidships on rock. Three foot water fore-hold. Salvage possible prompt powerful pumps. Otherwise consider total loss. Later report - Steamer Timbo full of water. Considered total loss.

Lloyd’s List 21st November. Timbo Abersoch. Resting on flat rock. Amidships to stern dry. Bow afloat in 5 fathoms water. Exposed to all weather from west to south. Forward hold leaking slightly. Engine room, after hold tidal. Can be easily stopped. Prospect salving good should weather continue fine. Will require couple of pumps and salvage steamer prompt. Nothing about here.

Later – Vessel underwater at half-tide. Salved new anchor and cable, some gear locally on percentage basis. Now in charge of Lloyd’s agent, Agents advertising ship for sale.

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 Thanks to Chris Holden, for the Dinas Dinlle, Memorial, and the Underwater photograph, and all his help with this article.

Thanks to Mr & Mrs Owen, for the two Abersoch Timbo photographs.

Chris Holdens book  'The Essential Underwater Guide to North Wales. Volume One. Barmouth to South Stack'.

Published by Calgo Publications.  www.calgopublications.co.uk 

For details of stockists and mail order.

Paul Kay is a friend of Chris  who lives in Llanfairfechan and is a professional underwater photographer. 

Check Paul's site at www.marinewildlife.co.uk

Other Shipwrecks

Stuart    Sorrento    Newry    Twelve Apostles    Bristol

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