The Hull trawler "Johannesburg"


This vessel was a steam trawler of Hull owned by W Normandale of Scarborough and although the vessel was saved , the circumstances surrounding this incident are worthy of note. 

On 8th February 1932 at 6:30am the Johannesburg came ashore on the north side of Filey Brigg, at 6:35am the Coastguard reported the wreck and at 7:30am the Coxswain of the Filey Lifeboat reported to the Honorary Secretary of the Filey Lifeboat Station, Charles Burgess, that the sea was “very rough” on the north of Filey Brigg. Accordingly the Lifeboat, the Hollon the Third was launched shortly afterwards. 

Exactly why the lifeboat came aback at 9:15 is unclear but it went again at 1pm as the sea was getting worse and tried to get the men off but they would not come off the vessel. The Coxswain of the Filey Lifeboat signalled to the Coastguard at 2 pm for the Scarborough Lifeboat to attend and assist and it was launched and arrived on scene at 3:20pm, however at 3pm the men on board the Johannesburg decided that they wanted to come off and “with great danger and difficulty” the lifeboat got them at 3: 30. 

The rescued crew consisted of 8 crewmen of the Johannesburg and 20 Filey fishermen who had got aboard and could not get back to their cobles due to the "strong gale and very heavy sea". The Honorary Secretary watched the incident and reported thus – "I watched through my telescope and it was very well done and the danger was very great, every minute from 3 to 2:30 I thought the boat would role over”. He then went on to report that the rescued consisted of  "Crew 8, Pirates 20 about” which perhaps gives an indication of why the Filey fishermen were present on the wreck! 

The wreck slipped of the rocks after the men were taken off her and the Scarborough lifeboat put three men aboard of her who cut her cables and towed the vessel into Filey Bay where she was beached for repairs, it was reported that “it is full of water and sand”

The written accounts of the day do not always do justice to the danger that the Lifeboat Crews were exposed to or the difficulties and hardships that they endured. The Honorary Secretary’s account above however is the closest description that we are likely to see to a daring rescue and it must be borne in mind that the Filey boat had no engine and relied on traditional sail and oar and sheer good seamanship. 

An indication of how bad the conditions were can be seen in the entry in the records enquiring about damage to the boat which reads "2 oars lost - sail slightly damaged".

Wreck Index