Shipwreck on Salthouse Beach c.1890
as experienced by Jimmy High as a boy


Henry High and his young sons, who lived in Cross Street, were called to a wreck in the night when Jimmy the middle son was only a boy. He tells it:

 





"A gale sprung up in the early hours of the morning. There was a knock on our window and a voice crying out 'A ship has foundered'. We all dressed hastily and ran to the beach at great speed.

A man told me to go across to the Rocket House and see if the crew of the apparatus wanted any assistance from us. As I ran into the room where the life-saving gear was housed, a dozen men met me. They all tried to speak at the same time, and were trying to tell me something in a foreign tongue.

They were Norwegians. By the time I had got my breath the man who had sent me arrived, and at once asked the men if all had been saved. Another Babel broke out, but one came forward who could speak English, to tell us that the Captain, Mate and the ship's boy were still missing.

Off we ran towards the wreck and I have never seen such a sight before or since. The men I had stumbled upon in the Rocket House had saved themselves by jumping from the bow of the ship, which was hard on the shingle beach.

 

 

The three people they feared lost had been trapped by the cargo in the stern. This had broken away from the main part of the ship, and among the wreckage of this part we found the Captain, who had been so knocked about in the drfting wreckage, that he died. This was the first dead man I had seen. The boy could not be found anywhere, but the Mate lay trapped in the deck cargo, which was timber. He was clear except for one leg which was pinned down by the heavy wood, and every time a wave struck the ship it seemed to push the timber over him still further. It took hours of patient work by his rescuers to get him out, and it was a wonder that they were not all killed by the movement of the timber. Fortunately, some of the rigging got fast round it after a time and prevented it moving far.

The man was conscious for a long time, but lost consciousness before he could be rescued. However, they got him out and warmed him up near the fire and, when they had pumped some of the water out of him, he seemed little the worse for his ordeal."

James Henry High, Sheringham 1940.

 

In April 2012 a Norwegian called Bard Christensen contacted me having seen
this page online and realised that this was the wreck which his
Great-Grandfather survived:

Subject: The shipwreck at Salthouse Beach

Hi
I am Norwegian and I have been searching some information about my ancestors and I came across your site and I just found out what happened to my great grandfather Christian Christensen, borned 1871.
He almost died in 1893 when the Sailing ship Ocean sank near Norfolk.
I didnt know the excact location until now but the year was 1893.
Only 6 of the crew survived including my great grand father, he was 22 years old then. The captain died.
I found Jimmy Highs page here:
So he survived thanks to assistance from the High family.
It was a very interesting story , I dont know what happened to the men they rescued , but my great grandfather was back on the sea soon after this and finally ended up as a Captain.
Here is a another link about my great grand father and what he did the years after the tragic accident.
If you have any more information about the ship wreck I would be happy to hear about it.
And sorry about any spelling mistakes , my english is not perfect ;)
Thanks.
Bard Christensen

Home page

Christian Christensen

 

 
Val Fiddian 2005