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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 831203

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NW95SE 8001 9951 5425

N54 50.5667 W5 7.3667

NLO: Portpatrick [name: NW 998 540].

Formerly entered as NW95SE 8099.

18 June 1851. ORION. Wrecked off Portpatrick. Buoyed until salvaged. Built 1847, by Caird & Co. of ? X 890 tons. 220f COA, 28' MB. Best speed 13 knots. Draft - 11ft 6 in aft. 10ft 10in fol. Engine 460 horse power. ? by Clyde Steam Navigation Company and equipped and ? by Messrs G. + E. Burns of Glasgow + Messrs Marlen-Burns (Liverpool). Location - Ward Rocks. ? ? Northward of harbour of Port ? 47' 30W bearing from main or N by W ? W by compass 350 yds from peer head lighthouse. 17ft at low water. Final Resting Place. (56 yds to foremast) S by W from the Bank + NW ? W from Split Rock. Broke on 15th day. Some of stores, baggage, bodies, etc. recovered by divers. + remains ? for 330L.

Source: PP Reps of Bd. of Trade Inspector on Loss of Steamers SIRIUS, TREBANE and FIN MA COUL on Coast of Ireland, etc. 1851 (696) LII.259 p.270)

18th June 1850, ORION, steamship, 460 tons, 38 crew, general cargo and 212 passengers, stranded, total loss, 41 lives lost, Wind NW1, Port Patrick. Table 8, Wrecks and Casualties (exclusive of Collisions) occasioning Loss of [Record received incomplete: gross tonnage also cited as 898].

NMRS, MS/829/67 (no. 96).

Wrecked June 18 1850. ORION of Glasgow, Steamer, 460 tons 38 crew, 212 on board, Liverpool to Glasgow, general cargo. Wind NW force 1, clear, 1.35 am 7 ? E = line of tide. No master or mate with examinations, vessel new, classed A1 at Lloyds. 41 lives lost. Wrecked at Portpatrick. From the various reports it appears the ORION struck on a rock known as Barmough situated 450 yards from the outer lighthouse at Portpatrick. The rock rises above the water a little below half ebb and must have been 4 feet out of the water when struck by the ORION. It is only 30 feet from the high water mark. The vessel drifted, when sinking to the position where she now lies with her paddle ? awash at low water, in 6 ? fathoms, situated 150 yards S by W ? W from the Barnough, 500 yards NNW ? W from the lighthouse, though ? 102 yards from the nearest shore. It would appear that the great loss of life arose from the sudden nature of the catastrophe, as little more than 10 minutes elapsed between the striking and being engulfed. There was no time to allay the frantic alarm of the passengers who were all retired below. Alarm signals were anticipated, for she was seen (and it is admitted by the lockeepman that the shore was seen and he warned the second mate more than once of her unusual proximity to the shore) from the shore to be running into danger and consequently abundance of boats and assistance were ? on the spot. My investigation elicits at its present stage that there were 212 persons on board, including the crew, and that 41 were drowned, of whom 37 bodies have been found. The owners propose raising the ORION and it is within the scope of prompt enterprise to effect it. I am charging the ? on a large scale and taking depositions as fast as I can collect the essential particulars. The vessel appears to have been lost through negligence of the second mate, who was in charge of her as pilot at the time. Both he and the master are committed on charges on neglect of duty and culpable homicide. The preceding remarks are from a letter to the Harbour Department of the Admiralty from Captain Denham RN, the Government Inspector of Steamboat Accidents, dated 30 June 1850. The Inspecting Lieutenant of Coast Guard at bay of Luce (20 June 1850) forwarding his return says Most negligently ran Stranded, the light being distinctly visible. Had an alarm been raised by hailing the shore or ringing the bell, it is probable that nearly all on board might have been saved, as sufficient boats from Portpatrick would have been alongside. Memo - the ORION was built of iron and have been known before to have been out of her reckoning a hundred miles, owing to the effect of her compasses. This does not seem, however, to have had anything to do with her loss in the present instance. Thomas Henderson, Master.

Source: PP British Sessional Papers. Admiralty Register of Wrecks and other Casualties on Shores of UK 1850 and 1851 (1852 (XLIX.503)).

NMRS, MS/829/67 (no. 152).

[Also noted].

NMRS, MS/829/67 (no. 262).

Horizontal Datum = UND

Circumstances of Loss Details


The ORION left Liverpool for Glasgow on the 18 June 1850, with a crew of 40 and 170 passengers. At 1.15am she struck rocks off the lighthouse at the entrance to Portpatrick Harbour. The ship was at full speed and the impact tore her bottom out. She sank in a few minutes. 60 drowned.

Source: Dictionary of Disasters at Sea.

Surveying Details


26 October 1966. The site was reported as a very old emigrant ship which may be of interest to sub-aqua members. Source: Mr. Jessop, Admiralty. Affects chart 2198, but confirmation is needed before it is to be charted.

10 July 1975. Very little of this wreck remains, except for some of the mechanical parts. The seabed is sand and rock, with plenty of kelp.

Source: letter from A. Newton, St Helens.

17 August 1976. The wreck reported as the ORION was found at position 54 50 34N, 005 07 28 W.

Source: A. Newton.

18 Apirl 1977. The wreck's reported position is 54 50 34N, 005 07 22W. Remains lie on a gravel bottom dotted with odd rocky outcrop. The remains are mostly buried in gravel. The site is less than 95 metres off shore.

Source: letter P. C. Miller, 28 January 1977.

14 April 1989. The wreck's position is given as 54 50 27N, 005 07 12W (approximately) - 75 metres NW of Portpatrick Harbour entrance.

Source: BSAC Wreck Register supplement.

Hydrographic Office, 1995.

(Classified as iron paddle steamship: date of loss cited as 19 June 1850). Orion: this vessel struck rocks 400 yds NxW W from [the] pierhead light. Capt. Henderson.

Registration: Glasgow. Built 1846. 899grt. Length: 63m. Beam: 8m.

(Location of loss cited as N54 50.57 W5 7.37).

I G Whittaker 1998.

The location assigned to this record remains unverified. Neither Barnaugh nor Ward Rocks are noted as such on the 1996 edition of the OS 1:50,000 map. The published harbour plan notes Orion Rock rising to 0.6m depth from a rocky seabed in a general depth of between about 2 and 5m about 220m NW of the ruined pierhead to the NW of Portpatrick harbour entrance. The wreck itself is not indicated.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 18 July 2003.

Hydrographic Office harbour plan of Portpatrick: inset to chart no. 2198 (1978, amended to 1987).

Portpatrick Harbour (NW95SE 9.00) is centred at NW 99878 54102. The pierhead lighthouse is presumably to be equated with the disused beacon ('Old Lighthouse') at NW 99890 53981.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 12 July 2005.

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