SS Hilda

The wreckage of the crashed steamer Hilda

The Hilda was a steamboat, the British railway companies London and South Western Railway was that it began on the English Channel as a ferry and the 1883-1905 passengers and freight from Southampton ( England) to Saint -Malo (France) promoted. On November 18, 1905, Hilda sank in a blizzard on the Brittany coast, after it had rebounded off the island Cézembre against a reef. Only six of the 131 passengers and crew members survived. It is the heaviest shipwreck in the region of the Channel Islands. It is also called the "Titanic of Brittany ".

The ship

The 802 GRT / NRT 428 large steamer Hilda was built in 1882 in the shipyard Aitken & Mansel Whiteinch in Glasgow's on the Clyde ( hull number 117, registration number 86327 ). Built of iron ship was almost 72 meters long, was driven by two-cylinder low-pressure steam engines by John & James Thomson and Company of Glasgow and reached an average cruise speed of 13.2 knots ( 24.4 km / h ). On two decks were up to 566 passengers transported. Its construction had cost after damaligem monetary value of 33,000 pounds sterling. The body of Hilda was divided by five watertight doors. For safety equipment included six lifeboats for a total of 308 persons, 318 life jackets and 12 life buoys.

The owner operating since 1838 Railway Company London and South Western Railway was (L & SWR ), headquartered in London, which had an extensive rail network in southern England. The company also operated a fleet of passenger and cargo ships which plied on the English Channel and the French port cities and the Channel Islands joined with cities on the south coast.

The Hilda was one of those ships. She ran in July 1882 from the deck, but could be completed because of a strike in January 1883. On January 13, 1883, in Stokes Bay, a bay between Portsmouth and Lee -on-the -Solent, the navigation tests performed, in which they even reached 14.5 knots. On the same day the ship was handed over to its owners. Then she made her maiden voyage from Southampton to Saint- Malo via the Channel Islands.

In October 1890, Hilda was replaced on its route through the new passenger ship Stella and traveled now without going directly to Saint -Malo. In 1894 the ship with two new steel boilers by Day, Summers and Company from the Northam Iron Works in Southampton and was equipped with electric lights. From now on, Hilda was used mainly in the winter season.

The Downfall

On Friday, November 17th, 1905 at 22.00 clock Hilda Southampton left under the command of 56 -year-old captain William Gregory to another crossing to Saint- Malo. Captain Gregory for 36 years was already in the service of the company. There were 103 passengers and 28 crew members on board. Among the 28 passengers of the first class was the 33 -year-old Isobel Daniell Cavendish Butler, wife of Henry Cavendish Butler, 8th Earl of Lanesborough. Due to dense fog delayed the usual departure time at 20.15 clock. The Hilda had to go and wait at anchor first at the fortress Hurst Castle on the Isle of Wight.

Only At 06.00 clock in the morning on 18 November, the ship could leak. At about 18.00 clock Hilda the Chanel de Petite Port had reached the entrance to the port of Saint- Malo. The town was only three miles away and the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor, Phare du Grand Jardin, was already in sight. The lights of the lighthouse were the only ones who could be identified from the ship. However, due to heavy seas, misty weather and persistent heavy snow squalls, the steamer could not enter the harbor. The snow and the mist took the ship visibility, which is why you aboard the Hilda to decided to wait outside the port until the weather aufklarte. Approximately five hours was the Hilda before the rock at the entrance to the harbor.

The high waves and strong currents threw the ship shortly before midnight on the reef La Pierre of the port to the island Cézembre. Captain Gregory had to fire signal flares and the ship's horn sounded. The first lifeboat was left on the starboard side of the water, was thrown by a wave and crashed against the hull. Around the same time rushed to the front mast. While the boats were prepared on the port side for paying out, rolled heavy breakers on the deck and tore the man overboard. Meanwhile, the ship put more and more on the page.

Against 02.00 clock at night on 19 November, the ship broke apart. Passengers who had sought refuge below deck, drowned. Several people clung to the rigging, but were swept away by the icy waves which broke over the ship. Only six people were rescued from the raging sea, the British crew member James Grinter and five male French passengers. 125 people lost their lives. The survivors were after the disaster of the Ada, who was also part of the London and South Western Railway, safe in the morning. At low tide, could the wreck, which lay in shallow waters, are clearly seen. A large part of the keel was torn.