HMS Foudroyant

This article is targeted on the last days of the Foudroyant which foundered off the Fylde coast in 1897. 

By Lemuel Francis Abbott - National Maritime Museum

 The earlier part of the story of the Foudroyant can be found here.

On the 4th June, the Foudroyant was towed from Liverpool to Blackpool.  It was intended that the Foudroyant should be a tourist attraction and would visit several resorts around the coast. 


On the 16th she broke a cable in a gale and, at the subsequent ???, the acting master, William John Robins, supplied the following information.  The ship was based in Liverpool; owned by G. Wheatley Cobb, rigged as a ship and built of wood in Plymouth in 1798.  The crew consisted of 27 including the deponent. It had a draught of 19ft 6in forward and 22ft 6in aft.  He also states that the ship carried 60 cannons in three tiers but many of the reports at the time seem to contradict this.


Statement of voyage previously to the casualty. That the said ship was between 3 and 4 miles off Blackpool anchored between the central and north piers by the port anchor of 95 ( c with vertical line) and 60 fathoms of 1+7/8 in cable in 5 fathoms at low water. At 3am on the 16th inst the wind blowing a gale from the S by W the starboard anchor of 95 c was let go with 30 fathoms of cable.







On Wednesday the 16th of June at 5:30am , the tide at the time being low water, the weather squally and the wind S by W blowing a gale, the said ship parted the starboard cable at the hawse pipe and the vessel commenced to drag towards the shore. She continued to drag at intervals and at 10 am the stern touched the ground and the foremast snapped close to the deck. The bowsprit and head gear going at the same time. Some time afterwards, the vessel bumping heavily, the main mast snapped close to the deck. The seas were breaking over the vessel and as the tide rose she gradually drove higher up the beach and is now 300 yards to the north of the North pier Blackpool with her head to the north drying at low water. The crew were landed by Blackpool lifeboat at 2:30pm




Other matters




That a steam lauch towing astern sank about the time the vessel commenced to drag and a gig at the port boom also went down. Two boats hanging at the quarters were destroyed when the vessel commenced to bump along the beach. The vessel is a complete wreck internally and no doubt her back is broken. No spare anchor was carried.




Estimated loss by deponent at £30,000. Not insured.




The master, owner and 26 crew were saved by lifeboat.




Cause. The port anchor failing to hold.




Sworn 17th June, 1897 at Fleetwood.








Image courtesy of Blackpool Gazette.


Another document gives the figure for scrap copper of £58 per ton.


Another outcome of the wrecking of the Foudroyant can be found in the case (Aug 1897 - Liverpool?)  of Cobb v Beecham* and Challinor - Lobb being the owner of the Foudroyant.  It seems that Challinor had boarded the wrecked ship and daubed in letters 3 foot high and 2 foot wide the words "England expects every man to do his duty and take Beecham's pills".  Challinor claimed he had misread a communication from Mr Beecham and was fined 40s.  The verdict against Mr Beecham was a £50 fine.  Beecham appealed against the verdict.

*Probably by this time Sir Joseph Beecham the father of Thomas Beecham the conductor.

By May, 1898 there were still claims and counter-claims.  Blackpool Corporation for getting the wreck off the beach and damage to some of their works.  The owners counter-claimed for return of portions of the wreck.


Trincomalee - now at - it was a Leda class frigate