The Final Voyage of the "Norman Court"
Designed by William Rennie, the Norman Court
was built in 1869 by A. & J. Inglis at their shipyard in Glasgow for
a total cost of £16,005. She was launched at the shipyard for Baring
The Norman Court proved over and over again
that she was one of the best tea clippers of her day and she was always
in the top flight of the China trade. Her record passage was 94 days out
from Macao to the Lizard in 1872. Her best week's work was in 1874 when
she went 2,046 miles. There were a few instances when Norman Court had
the better of Sir Lancelot, another of the fastest tea clippers of her
Thomas Baring sold her in 1881 to Baine & Johnson. The new owners put her into the Java sugar trade and appointed
Captain McBride as her Master. She continued regularly to ply her trade
routes for the next couple of years, until her sad and tragic demise.
The wreck is now visited regularly by divers.
It lies in shallow water and at particularly low tides is partly visible.
The ship's wheel and bell were salvaged and are now in the care of a local
Thanks go to Mr. Wilson, whose grandfather
and great grandfather had both been Masters of the Norman Court, for some
of the images on this page. His contributions can be seen in higher quality
in the Gallery (Site Pictures).
He also sent some copies of detailed accounts of the history of the Norman
Court and the discovery of the wreck - please contact
us if you'd like more information.
||On 29 March 1883 the 'Norman Court'
ran aground in Cymyran Bay between Rhoscolyn and Ynys Feirig (known
to locals as Starvation Island) during a wild, South Westerly gale.
On this particular voyage, her cargo was over 1,000 tons of sugar
from Java on route to Greenock on the Firth of Clyde.The captain
tried desperately to turn the ship but she had swung broadside on
and the seas were breaking over her. She ran aground on the shoals
of Cymyran. The breakers in the shoal were very heavy making a rescue
attempt a difficult and dangerous affair.
The lifeboat at Rhoscolyn was not
available as she had put into Porth Diana, Trearddur Bay, for
repairs having been damaged the day before whilst aiding a vessel
in distress on the treacherous reef of Ynysoedd Ffrydiau.
The Rhosneigr lifeboat made the
first attempt to reach the Norman Court but after trying repeatedly,
she was finally driven back to shore. The crew were exhausted
and disheartened and narrowly escaped with their lives.
The secretary of the Rhoscolyn Lifeboat,
Colonel Marshall, contacted the Holyhead Lifeboat Station. Coxwain
Edward Jones and a volunteer crew arrived by a special train at
a point on the line nearest the wreck. The men fought their way
across the moor in the fierce gale, launched the Rhosneigr Lifeboat
through the heavy surf, and eventually rescued 20 men from the
ship. They had been holding on to the rigging for over twenty
four hours. Two of the ship's crew had died from exposure. The
ship was totally wrecked and for years her remains have marked
Survey of the Wreck
Worsley Sub-Aqua Club, in association
with the Nautical Archaeological Society, are in the process of surveying
the wreck of the Norman Court. Their progress and more details about the
ship can be found at their website: www.normancourt.homestead.com