Shipwrecks on the south west coast of the Isle of Wight


Alcester
Came to grief: 27th February 1897 at/near Atherfield Ledge
Captain A. D. Haws
Cargo: 2500 tons of jute
Crew of 21
Lifeboats present:
Catherine Swift (2nd)
Coxswain:
William (Rufus) Cotton

The Alcester was an iron vessel of 1597 tons, bound from Calcutta to Hamburg. She ran aground some 350 yards off shore between 4pm and 5pm on the afternoon of Friday, February 27th in a particularly dense fog.

The lifeboat was launched but Captain Haws refused assistance, hoping to refloat on the high tide. The lifeboat returned to shore and was rehoused.
The Alcester did not refloat. On the Saturday a tug attempted to pull her free, but after several broken hawsers, gave up and returned to port as the weather began to worsten.
Soon after 1pm the lifeboat launched again. Two trips were made, bringing ashore a total of 20 men, two monkeys, a cat, a dog and the crew's baggage. The Captain and Mate stayed onboard, in spite of warnings from the lifeboat crew, who knew what was coming.
About 9pm, having been battered by huge seas, the Captain burned distress signals and the lifeboat crew assembled once more, but by this time, it was high water and quite impossible to launch.
By now, the Captain and Mate had taken to the rigging, where they were forced to remain all night. Early next morning, conditions having improved a little, the lifeboat launched and successfully carried both men to shore.

On the Sunday, the ship broke her back and became a total wreck, most of her cargo being lost.

Fatalities: 0