The Times January 6th 1900

Wreck of a Channel Steamer Ibex

The Great Western mail boat Ibex, which left Weymouth on Thursday night for Guernsey, struck the Black Rock off St Sampsons Guernsey, at 6 o’clock yesterday morning the passengers were awoke by a terrible crash, and rushing on deck they found that the Ibex was slowly going down within sight of the harbour lights. Boats were launched and lifebelts handed round. All this was done in 10 minutes, and there was no panic. All the passengers were saved, but one sailor drowned.

Captain Baudains was the last man to leave the vessel, which was one of the finest and fastest of the Great Western Steamers, though, as will be seen, somewhat unfortunate.

The Press Association Guernsey correspondent telegraphed yesterday:- I have just been out to the scene of the wreck of the Ibex. Only the tops of the masts and the funnels are to be seen. It is supposed the vessel struck on the Fatte Fougere Rock, North of Guernsey. The captain, after the concussion caused by the striking of the Ibex, made for Guernsey Harbour, but the vessel gradually sank and failed to reach her destination. She foundered when within ten minutes of the port. Efforts are being made to recover the mails, and divers are going out, but it is feared that the tides are too strong for diving operations at present. The sailor who was drowned was named Randell. Heroic efforts were made to save him, and during the operation one boat nearly capsized. There were heavy banks of fog over the sea at the time the Ibex sank.

Mrs de Grouchy, the stewardess of the Ibex, in relating her experience, says:- at the time of the striking I was laying down and knew nothing of the disaster until i was called by the steward about 10 minutes after she struck. He told me the vessel was sinking, and to call the ladies and children under my charge. Most of the ladies were already dressed, as we were close to Guernsey. I went and told them to go on deck at once, at the same time giving them lifebelts. After they had all gone I followed. It was perfectly dark, but there was no fog, and the harbour lights could be distinctly seen and the sea was fairly smooth. The boats were already launched and i had no difficulty in getting in. The captain gave his orders with perfect calmness and acted bravely all through. I was in the boat with the captain, and he did his utmost to save the sailor Randell, and told him to keep afloat, but he replied, “ I cannot swim”, and immediately sank.

A fireman named F. Hartopp, who was below at the time, said he had just finished his watch and was about to turn in when he felt a heavy bump, which gave his head a severe blow, water commenced coming in almost immediately, but the engineers and firemen did not leave the engine room until the water got too deep. She steamed for about 20 minutes after striking, then slowly settled down. He saved three children by going below and bringing them up. Nearly all the passengers were entirely or partly dressed, and, as they were so near shore, they did not suffer much hardship.

A Guernsey Correspondent telegraphed last night:-

At low tide the upper deck of the steamer can be seen from the shore just awash, and as the wind is freshening the vessel is heaving heavily. Two mail baskets have been washed up and taken ashore by a fisherman. The loss of the Ibex is a mystery, and the captain cannot account for it, although he was on deck at the time. The Great Western railway officials at Guernsey have telegraphed to Weymouth for another boat to be forwarded to convey the passengers to Jersey. The total number onboard was 42 passengers and 31 crew.

It will be remembered that on April 16, 1897, the Ibex left Guernsey with 230 passengers shortly after 8 o’clock three minutes ahead of the Lefeuvre seeing the vessel was making water, headed for Portelet Bay, two miles distant, and breached the Ibex. All the passengers were safely landed and the vessel was eventually brought into port. She was afterwards repaired at a cost of £8,000.

The Ibex was built at Birkenhead in 1891. She was a steel vessel of 1,150 gross tonnage.

Day of Loss: 6

Month of Loss: 1

Year of Loss: 1900



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