At low tide on the beach at Anchorsholme (at the northernmost end of Blackpool near to Cleveleys seafront) you can see wood sticking out of the sand. It’s the remains of the Abana shipwreck from long ago.
Head to Princes Way, it’s the promenade next to Anchorsholme Park. You can use postcode FY5 1AF to find it.
The Abana Shipwreck Today
The sands of the beach shift about every day. Depending on tidal conditions, beach levels raise and lower. But you can usually see the wooden ribs of the Abana wreck, emerging from the sand at low tide.
We took a walk out to it at low tide one morning in August 2020 to take a closer look –
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History of the Abana Shipwreck
Thanks to the Thornton Cleveleys Past Facebook Group and their members for some of these photos. If you aren’t a member, join now because it’s full of fascinating local history.
The Abana set sail from Liverpool to Savello in Florida, loaded with a 500 tonne cargo of ballast to be unload for timber. Unfortunately, on 22nd December 1894, a storm caught her in the Irish Sea. Later spotted at 3pm drifting in a northwesterly direction with her sails torn to shreds.
The crew mistook Blackpool Tower for a lighthouse. The ship is first spotted floundering at North Pier, then seen drifting north. At 5pm that same day the Abana grounds off the cliffs at Little Bispham – where we see the remains still today.
Cleveleys Hotel to the Rescue…
It was the landlord of the Cleveleys Hotel who raised the alarm.
But the weather is so awful on that fateful night, that the Blackpool lifeboat ‘Samuel Fletcher’ has to be taken 7 miles (11 km) overland to Bispham before it can be launched.
Did you know? The Samuel Fletcher had another life as a pleasure cruiser at Stanley Park lake. It also hosted an escapology stunt!
The Abana crew of 17 were all taken on board the lifeboat, along with its own crew of 16, plus the ships dog which belonged to Captain Danielson. The weight of passengers grounded the lifeboat on a sandbank while returning to shore, so some of the crew members pushed it afloat and they reached shore safely.
…to the Red Lion for Recovery!
All of the mariners went to the Red Lion Inn at Bispham to recover from their ordeal.
The ship’s bell (and dog!) were given to the landlord of the Cleveleys Hotel, who’d first raised the alarm. The bell now hangs in St. Andrew’s Church in Cleveleys. You can still see it in the church today.
The plaque from the ship’s stern, depicting a woman’s head with long flowing hair, is still preserved at Fleetwood Museum.
Alan Nyberg got in touch to tell us that his grandfather, John Edward Nyberg, was on the Abana. Alan says “Thank God they all got off OK”. John was a crew member – they’d picked up ballast from Northumberland dock and were going to Florida USA where they would off load it to bring back timber.
Here’s another video clip of a flight over the wreck of the Abana. This one is by Loopdreams –
From the Lifeboat records –
The extract from the Blackpool Lifeboat’s own record states:
“The undermentioned ship was sighted about 4 in the afternoon of Saturday. All her sails were torn to ribbons, half of her mainmast appeared to have gone and she was evidently unmanageable and at length shortly after 5 o’clock she grounded about 400 yards from the cliffs (five miles to north of B’pool).
Meanwhile the Coxswain (Cartmell) had his men in readiness. The barque came ashore bow first but was slewed broadside on by the forces of the waves. Signals of distress were then fired from her and the Lifeboat started by road shortly after 5.30.
Seven miles on country lanes!
The journey was seven miles through rough country lanes. The wind was blowing from the NW and the lifeboat was taken 1/4 of a mile north of the wreck. Very little delay was experienced in launching the boat into the terrible surf. It was a stiff pull against the wind and sea but the boat was admirably managed, the Coxswain steering her nicely to the lee side of the vessel.
About 25 minutes after the signals announced that all were safe and in another 20 minutes the rescued men were safely landed. The Lifeboat was then taken back by road to Blackpool which was reached at about 12 o’clock. The performance of the crew was a splendid one and one to be proud of. You will notice that I have not stated how many times they have been afloat on lifeboat service. I have not been able to ascertain this, but the majority of them are young fellows who have not been out to a wreck before.
A Modern Shipwreck
Ironically, this is almost the same spot on the beach where the Riverdance Ferry famously ran aground in 2008.
- More about the The Riverdance Shipwreck
There’s also a tribute nearby to all of the ships which have run aground off the Fylde Coast. At the boundary between Cleveleys and Blackpool is the shipwreck memorial. Take a look – you’ll find the Abana and Riverdance listed on there.
- More about the Shipwreck Memorial on Cleveleys promenade
If you know anything else about the Abana shipwreck, please get in touch. Email jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk
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