Brighton shipwreck of the Brig ‘Pilgrim’ antique print. Original woodblock engraved antique print of the Middlesbrough brig ‘Pilgrim,’ with a cargo of coal, shipwrecked at Brighton with the chain pier in the background. Published October 17th. 1857.
The full page 393/394 (which will be included if purchased) includes a story and illustration of an “American slaver captured by H.M.S. Antelope.”
On this day, October 17th, 1857, ‘The Illustrated London News’carried a woodblock engraving above a caption reading, “Wreck of the Brig ‘Pilgrim,’ off Brighton.”
The following is the text of a blog published in Reach plc’s ‘In Your Area’ on the anniversary of the original ILN story.
The ‘Pilgrim,’ from Middlesbrough was laden with coal and had been at sea for fourteen days. Captain Smithson reported that, “on the preceding morning the ship, while off Dungeness, sprung a leak. The men at once took to the pumps, and succeeded in keeping the vessel sufficiently clear of water to afford some hopes of its reaching Portsmouth.” However, as weather conditions worsened, the Captain “gave up, and resolved on letting his vessel run ashore before the wind, then nearly due south.”At 7.00 in the morning ” thousands of persons had assembled on the cliff watching … the fate of the unfortunate vessel.” The coal brig was “rolling and staggering through the sea – now raised on the summit of a precipice , now labouring in the trough of the foam – wavering and uncertain in her movements, as if those in command had already given up the conflict with the storm.” Stuck on the sand of the Chain Pier “it was obvious that there could be but one result – she must go to pieces.” Three boats were available to effect a rescue. The Royal Humane Society’s boat “after a struggle of nearly two hours” was within twenty yards of the vessel when forced to to return. Two other life-boats were on Brighton beach, one belonging to the town council and the other privately owned by John Wright. Both put to sea with Wright’s larger and faster boat reaching the stricken brig first. Wright’s boat “shipped a sea which filled his boat to the rowlocks. He lost five oars by the force of the sea … and was obliged to retreat.” Meanwhile the town boat had rescued five crew members of a compliment of eight. Having returned to the beach and re-launched on three occasions, Wright made to sea for a fourth time with four Hove life-guards joining his crew. This time his endevour was successful, and the captain of the brig, with his remaining crew, was brought to safety.
A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. During the Age of Sail, brigs were seen as fast and manoeuvrable and were used as both naval warships and merchant vessels. They were especially popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries.