5th December 1900

Guernsey steamship SS Rossgull is wrecked

SS Rossgull had arrived at Guernsey from Plymouth during the day and set sail for Jersey after unloading its cargo. It was dark and stormy, but nobody had any reason to suspect she wouldn’t reach her destination until, the following morning, Onesimus Dorey received a telegram announcing that she had been wrecked on the evening of 5 December, around 10.45pm.

She had been just off St Brelades Bay in Jersey at the time, and the coastguard calculated that she had foundered on rocks off Noirmont Point.

The telegram would have brought back unhappy memories for Dorey, as it arrived three years almost to the day since his ship the Rose of Devon had sunk off Cornwall with the loss of all lives. In this instance, three of the crew and only a handful of passengers had survived, despite her having sufficient lifeboats and rafts for everyone. It was likely that the sea was too rough for them to make it to shore.

Rescued cat

A Miss Stoll, from Plymouth, recounted the story to the Jersey Times the following day, explaining that the rocks seemed to have made contact towards the back of the boat, well below the water line. The boat had tipped up and then started to list to one side.

There was no apparent panic. The crew distributed lifebelts and people dressed, then waited on deck for the first of the lifeboats to be lowered while still only half full. It even returned to the sinking boat several times to collect clothing and Miss Stoll took a cat with her.

Three of the crew rowed the lifeboats to St Helier Harbour where the survivors were interviewed by the police before being taken care of. As the sun came up, the lifeboat was dispatched from St Helier, but after five hours’ searching it returned to port having seen no sign of the Rossgull or any more survivors.


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