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The Manchester City
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The Manchester City

The Manchester City was disabled in the Pentland Firth having broken her rudder in storm conditions. The lifeboat went to her aid and she was boarded by the 2nd Coxwain Bill Mowat who by his skill and understanding of the tides piloted this vessel clear of the Firth and down to Sinclair Bay near Wick, where tugs took over and she was brought to I think it was Sunderland for repair.

For this action by the lifeboat and especially Bill Mowat a salvage payment was made to her crew. This was much needed in those days and Bill had a new yole built and payed for by his share. I remember the yole still being used in Brims when I was a boy, she was called Jesabel.

The date of the photo is approximate.
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Picture added on 16 January 2008
Further to my notes above I have been told that the amount paid to the crew was around £1450 which would have been a lot of money in those days, being in excess of one hundred pounds each crew man.

Also with regard to the yole that Bill Mowat had built, he was so impresed by the lifeboats of that time and how they were fitted with a drop keel that he had one fitted to the Jesabell, alas this proved not to be as he hoped it might have been and it was removed. The plate was still lying at the Haven at Brims until a few years ago.

I would like to hear from any one with more info on the story of the Manchester City, as she is a legend told in Longhope as far back as I remember.

Added by John Budge on 18 January 2008
The Manchester City was built in 1898 in time for the opening of the Manchester ship canal. She was on her maiden voyage when this incident happened. The vessel was broken up in 1929
Added by Fred Johnston on 27 January 2008
Sorry about the mistake in my previous message John. The Manchester ship canal was actually opened in 1894.
Added by Fred Johnston on 27 January 2008
At 4p.m.on the 31st October 1898 the four masted steamer Manchester City while on her maiden voyage from Middlesborough to Manchester to load for America, broke her rudder quadrant two miles off Dunnet Head and began drifting in the strong westerly gale. Two anchors were let down and these held for a time. In answer to her distress signals lifeboats from Scrabster, Longhope and Huna were alerted and together with the St Ola and a Grimsby trawler, made for the scene. After launching difficulties because of low tide, Huna lifeboat soon made up under a press of sail. By that time the flowing tide was causing problems and the anchors were slipped allowing the Manchester City and her escorts to drive eastwards. Second coxswain Bill Mowat of the Longhope lifeboat was placed on board the disabled vessel as a pilot and although the steering was out of order she was kept off the rocks by using ahead/astern on the engines until past Duncansby Head. The three lifeboats all gave considerable assistance in spite of the mountainous seas in the Pentland Firth and on the way to Wick Bay. Because of difficulties near Noss Head, Ackergill lifeboat together with the steam tug (Captain David Simpson) went to assist. While anchoring at the mouth of Wick Bay awaiting the arrival of more powerful tugs, the Manchester City ranged ahead and two men on the tug, Don Sweeney and Peter Simpson, were injured. During the night the Manchester City drove out to sea while a jury rudder was fitted. With the Aberdeen stern liner in attendance a course was set for the Cromarty Firth. Two days later, while under light anchors in the Cromarty Roads, a sudden gale from the south west drove her ashore on the Nigg Sands. She was later refloated, undamaged, by two tugs and towed south for repairs to her steering gear. The Manchester City (Captain Forrest) was 461 ft long, beam 52 ft and dead weight 8600 tons. She had triple expansion engines of 4000 IHP. made by Sir Christopher Furness & Co of Middlesborough and had a speed of 15 knots.

Added by William Sinclair on 02 September 2010
On the salvage money, my granny's recollection was £140 per person (just been listening to a recording of her from Radio Orkney I think). The Measuring Worth website equates that to around £50K in today's terms, using average earnings comparison. As someone said, a lot of money.
Added by Jane Harris on 01 February 2012
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