The Wreck of the "Laura"

On 21st November 1897, the Austrian steamship "Laura" was probing the North Sea in dense fog. She was a 2.089 ton schooner rigged vessel with a crew of 24 and bound for Trieste from Newcastle with a cargo of coke. This voyage of the Laura was to be her last as during the night she ran ashore on the sand to the South end of Filey Bay below the Speeton Cliffs. One report states that the Captain had steamed South from the Tyne until he ran into fog and despite taking soundings in 25 fathoms in the early morning, had run ashore later that night.

The Filey Coastguard was alerted to the Laura's distress signals at 10:00 am next morning and 2 Filey cobles and the lifeboat were on the scene shortly afterwards. There was no immediate danger so the Captain and crew stayed aboard and then salvage attempts then started. First of all a tug and a steam trawler stood by the Laura all night and then the attempts to refloat her the next day failed. On the Tuesday, local men were employed to off load the cargo and more tugs arrived to try and pull her clear on the Wednesday morning, but the tow ropes broke, the Laura shifted position and broke in two, thus sealing her fate.

The Laura was then abandoned and after a period of heavy seas and speculative salvage work, she broke up leaving her bottom plates, stern post and massive boilers exposed at low tide. The stern post served as a permanent marker for many years until it was cut off, and now it is just a low stump.

Recently, we inspected the exposed wreck and buried deep in what was the forefoot of the vessel, the bottom of a barrel of tar was discovered, this barrel still had tar in it and a sample was removed for inspection.

Although the wreck can still be seen today, visitors must be aware that the tides in this area can be fierce and bathing or excursions into the water are not advisable as bathers have been lost at this end of the beach.

This tidal action can reward the vigilant as at times huge quantities of sand is liquefied and transported to other areas, leaving objects of interest exposed that are normally covered over.

 the wreck

The Laura as she is today

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