FROM STAITHES TO GASWORKS IN A COMPANY’S SHIP.
I propose in this article to take the reader (in spirit) for a trip to of our steamers, and let the Co-partners into the secret of how coal gets to the gasworks.
We will assume that our vessel is lying at anchor at Derwenthaugh waiting to load. (This staithe is the one adjacent to the Tyne at which vessels load). One watch is ashore, and the other, having been ordered to come alongside, proceeds 112 the vessel’s own auxiliary steam to wars the ship until this is done, and the hatchways cleared away, all is ready. The coal is teamed into the holds by a long iron shoot, which entered from the staithe over the hatchway. This holding, depending on the particular staithe one is at, from 4 to 40 tons, are held over the opening at the top of the shoot, and by releasing hinged bottom of the truck the coal runs by the shoot into the holds. This procedure is more or less general.
If at time of leaving the tide is unsuitable, the ship is again hauled to the.. to await tide-time sailing, the officer in charge respond that the men off duty are duly notified when the ship will go. Dr sea irtines, steering gear, and, if at nights, lights, having been found, the master, who has arranged for the pilot to attend, from the bridge, rings the ‘Stand by’ on the engine’s telegraph ¬and a start is made to get under way. From here to the sea, is twelve miles, but limitations of space prevent more than a mention of things in general. Ship building yards, coaling staithes, blast furnaces, and docks built on either side of the narrow, winding river, which is only 885 feet wide, and lower down at Jarrow about ? wide. We pass under the Redheugh, King Edward, and ? Bridges, and then through the Low Level, or Swing, which with the High Level joins Newcastle and Gateshead. Traffic may only pass through against the tide.
Having arrived at the Groin Lighthouse, we drop our pilot and proceed to sea, passing between the two fine piers, or rather pier breakwaters, at the entrance. At Tynemouth, on a cliff, stand the ruins of a priory, which is associated with St. Bede. The South pier is 1,716 yards long, and forms a bent arm toward the North Pier; beginning at the foot of one of the main streets of South Shields. It is a favourite resort for promenaders. There is a red and white light at the end, and in fine weather off here may be found the pilot cutter for inward-bound traffic. We are now at sea, and a word about the North Sea may be of interest. It is a shallow, restless stretch of water, extending from the Orkneys to the English Channel, with dangerous tides; both weather and tides in the North Sea are affected by Atlantic conditions. Consequently the tides are not true either in run or time; fogs are prevalent and visibility is more or less bad.
I hear we are soon to have a weather forecast four days ahead, but I fear the weather prognosticators are up against it as far as the North Sea is concerned, my experience is that it believes in ‘direct action,’ and lot of it. There are never twenty-four hours alike – any real summer. Calms are most rare, and it is a bad sign when they do put in an appearance. The North Sea might be divided into two parts, Old north and one south of the Spurn. Deep water and fairly ? tides constitute the former, the Dogger Bank 540 N. to 560 C with a depth of 7 to 20 fathoms, being the only nasty place to avoid in gales, when seas break badly here, and it is advisable to cross to the Continent by going south of the bank. Many a ship has ended her days through crossing this bank in bad weather. The southern portion of the North Sea is the more difficult to the navigator. Numerous sandbanks, forming a series of ridges, ridges, with deep water channels between them, run parallel with the coast-line and as the Sea narrows towards the Thames these banks’ extend across to the European coast, and, but for artificial lights end Dial lit by buoys, navigation with modern draughted ships would be ill possible. These banks make the tides uncertain, and with fog so common it requires great care to keep clear of them. They get up quickly, are fast-running, and swish aboard with considerable force, rising almost perpendicularly, and, owing to sandbag kit a not a ‘true sea’; consequently the water thrown about dangerous.
Leaving the Tyne we steer in a south-easterly direction. Passing Souter Point, Sunderland, Seaham and Hartlepool, all ii- ii what off shore, and again near the land towards Whitby, high on the high cliff above the town famed for jet, are the ruins celebrated abbey of St Hilda. Whitby was once an important ship¬ building port Captain Cook’s vessel, the Resolution, of 462 tons, was built here in 1769. Whitby High Light is on a cliff to the south of the town. About three miles south of this light we pass Robin Hood’s bay one of the prettiest pieces of scenery on the coast. It was a famous resort for U boats during the war, and, while at anchor here one night under the North Cheek in 1916, I observed something that proved of value to the Admiralty – at least so I was informed by a kindly naval officer of rank to whom I was taken to give my report to Whitehall and who invited me to keep an eye open, and return to him should there be further developments; and this I was able to do.
South eastward from here is a most curious land¬ bank, Scarborough rock, a semicircular promontory 277 feet high, with a sea-wall drive right round it and it was on the summit that houses suffered from the German bombardment by the way. A Scar is Saxon for A rock, and A burgh’ means a fortification. Note how often A burgh ‘ or ‘ borough’ appears in east-coast names. The hazardous ledge jutting out from Carr Naze is some a danger of rocks otherwise a nice seaside resort.
Another seven miles south-east-miles south, from the rock, and forms, the seaward shelter of C and we come to one of the most famous headlands in the world. Flamborough Head, a perpendicular chalk cliff 330 feet high, and incline combed beneath with beautiful sea-caves, in which one can easily be lost. It is said to have derived its name from the flame, a beacon tower, exhibited in order to warn mariners, and this is well founded, as a flame is marked on ancient charts. It is excellent shelter under the head from north and north¬ iteil, also in Bridlington bay. The most direct route to go out from off Flamborough is across the deeps, passing between the Outer ?? and Dudgeon Shoals, but in westerly it’s a passage between the Dudgeon and ?? banks is advisable especially when in ballast or, a gap, inside the tank. This gives a vessel a chance to reach the shelter of the ?? should the weather look to be getting worse. You can find good ?? in all weather here, the best on the east coast.
All the ?? across the mouth of the Wash (where King John was so unfortunate) into the Would, a channel sixteen miles long and wide lying between the Haisborough Sands and the Norfolk coast. Cromer is at the north end and is sometimes ?? to a foulness. A little farther along the coast is Mundesley, from this point the encroachment of the sea becomes apparent. barriers have been constructed here to resist it. The ?? gradually descends towards ??, where some tele¬cables come ashore. Old square-towered churches, many them very old, are familiar features along the coast here. Winterton Ness marks the south end of the ?? and Haisborough Light House and Newship light Vessel respectively mark the north and South ends of this channel to sea lanes. Vessels to Belgium and Holland take their departure from Newark. Seven miles south from the Nearp is the Cross Suid light Vessel where vessels for the English Channel set their course, those for the ? also if they do not go through Yarmouth Roads are centre here or Buoy. It is not buoyed, but there are ten fathoms of water all round it.
All the sands off here are most dangerous, being quicksands, which at slack water moves as if alive, and become set when tides run over them. Ships stranding must keep their engines running full astern if possible, till the tides begin to run otherwise, all the Sands are alive and the vessel would get bedded in, but the action the engines helps to wash away the sand, and prevent this sliding process. We proceed through Yarmouth and Caistor where in all weathers there is good anchorage. Fifteen hundred vessels have swung to their anchors here at one time a and it was a halfway house for all of he great upheaval. Only those who are well acquainted with the north and south channels should use them at night though they are quite all right for those who know. This the one way which to enter the anchorage for those left flaunted wind wish to shelter.
Clearing the Stanford Channel off Lowestoft we come to that part of the coast where the sea encroachment appears to have been most. It severe, but before going along the coastline you must know the offshore direct into the Thames from the Cross Deep light Vessel to the Shipwash, Sunk, and Barrow Deep, outside that sandbank. This route is no more need than of old, principal use the Shipwash and Sunk Light Vessels have been seaward, which spoilt the inward passages if a our enemy. It is necessary to follow the lightships for their fog-horns along the coast, no return then to Orford Ness, some five miles westerly from Lowestoft. According to tradition, the most easterly point in England was the city of ?? now at sea some two miles out from ??? Ness.
Five miles south westerly again is Southwold, or SudwIIl, now a seaside resort. This town was incorporated in 1489, and entirely destroyed by fire in 1659. The battle of Soic between the English and French was fought near here in 1672. The church, built in 1460, is conspicuous, the tower being 100 feet high. About four miles to the south-west is Dunwich, the former capital of East Anglia. It was once a city of some size, with churches, fifty religious orders, and ships of war. Between the Sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the sea claimed streets, and buildings, and in 1565 only a small part of the city remained. Even that has long since disappeared, and little is left but church of All Saints to remind us of that dead city under.
Eight miles farther to the south-west we come to Aldeborough. In 1569 was a town of considerable size; now most of it is at sea, dead and buried. A master mariner once told me picked up on his anchor an old battered weathercock from a steeple when weighing. My look of incredulity seemed 1.11, though I said nothing, for he was a very old man, I thought, he might have found a weathercock; but he said it was of pure gold, and that he threw it back into the Sea! A alike on we pass what is the actual entrance to the? At a work. The church and castle are of Norman looking appearance.
Leaving the Shipway, leaving Harwich away to starboard. The ?? Light Vessel, here pilots for the Thames are away on our port. Coasting seamen use their own pilotage to Gravesend. As mentioned before, we pass Barrow Deep, up which we steam. The old ?? is little used now, and the war channel has been opened to all navigation from ?? end Nore into Sea Reach, whereon the ? is noticeable. The Anglo-American oil terminal seems to grow daily. Passing them we turn into Sea Reach where a fog can be served out at a ?? in comparative clear surroundings. Thence, where, if the tide suits we pick up our tide into Gravesend.
To London the river winds about either hand, but it is above Beckton Gasworks that the river gets somewhat congested. The Company’s works at Blackwall Point, East Greenwich, are particularly conspicuous with the largest gas-holders in the world. Past the Dreadnought Hospital and the West Greenwich gasworks at Deptford Creek, then up to the first discharging place for the Rotherhithe works and a little higher up, and not far from the Tower Bridge, we turn ship, head down stream, and berth to discharge under the ?? on the Company’s wharf at Rotherhithe.
The impression left upon one by a passage up the Thames is the disgraceful traffic is allowed to muddle along in this most important of all river waterways. No matter where one goes and the docks are worse than the river–you get there by sheer luck after a general ?? ships with lighters, dumb barges and bad language
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