The Teignmouth Coal Boat

Teignmouth Coal Boat, aka SS Bretagne

Teignmouth Coal Boat, aka SS Bretagne

We’ve done the estuary so the next series of post are going to follow the shoreline ….. vaguely.

It actually starts off-shore about six miles from Teignmouth with a wreck off Hopes Nose which has been a regular destination for divers and fishermen over many years.

It is/was known locally only as the ‘Teignmouth Coal Boat’ until in 1966 a group of divers discovered the barnacle-encrusted ship’s bell which revealed the words “Bretagne 1903 Christiania” – the ship was the SS Bretagne missing for almost 50 years.

Back Beach Boyz, shanty crew from Teignmouth

Back Beach Boyz, shanty crew from Teignmouth

The story of the coal boat is the subject of a shanty recently written by Bob Freshwater for  the Back Beach Boyz, a sea shanty crew from Teignmouth. Many thanks to them for allowing me to reproduce the words of the song here.  History suggests though that the final three lines of the last stanza may be poetic licence!!

 

The Teignmouth Coal Boat
(Bob Freshwater, Back Beach Boyz)

From Barry Dock, in 1918,
The Coal Boat set sail, with a full head of steam
Heading for Rouen, 8 hours up the Seine
To offload the coal, and head out again
To offload the coal, and head out again

Chorus:
Around Hope’s Nose and into Lyme Bay
The Coal Boat steamed east on a still summer’s day
The Car-go lies down, deep safe in the hold….
Two thousand tons of the Rhondda Black Gold
Two thousand tons of the Rhondda Black Gold

Way up ahead, sea smoke rolls in
Swallowing the Coal Boat, and turning it dim
Smothering fog, an omen sea borne
The Coal Boat slows down, and sounds the horn.
The Coal Boat slows down, and sounds the horn.

‘Round Thatcher Rock, and into Lyme Bay
Renee Marthe came, from the opposite way
The crunching sound, turned the crew awful cold
The Steering gear jammed, her stern was holed
The Steering gear jammed, her stern was holed

A Torbay trawler, pulled up alongside
To support Coal Boat, against the run of the tide
‘Abandon the ship’, was Johannesson’s command
The Steamer went down, with the loss of one hand
The Steamer went down, with the loss of one hand

Bretagne sits proud, on the cold sandy floor
Divers and fishermen, come to adore….
A vessel of steel, still safe in its hold
Two thousand tons of the Rhondda Black Gold.
Two thousand tons of the Rhondda Black Gold.

Want to know more?  Check out:

Teignmouth Coal Boat …..
Back Beach Boyz …..

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