This edited article about maritime disasters first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 470 published on 16 January 1971.
Captain Taylor of the ‘Royal Charter’ should have received a testimonial from his passengers for their swift trip from Australia. As it turned out, he and nearly everyone else on board perished a few miles from their journey’s end. Only a few survivors staggered ashore.
Exactly two months to the day since she had left Melbourne, Australia, the iron ship Royal Charter rounded The Skerries, a lonely outcrop of rocks lying just off the nort-west tip of the Isle of Anglesey. Though her single screw was driven by an engine of no more than 200 horse-power and she was of 2,719 tons displacement, she had made remarkable time. In fact, her passengers were so pleased with the swift passage – some 11,000 miles in just over 60 days – that they had drawn up a testimonial of their esteem for the master of the ship, Captain Taylor, and collected sufficient money among themselves to be able to make a presentation to him on arrival at Liverpool, their destination.
A foolhardy captain might have tried to save time on the last short lap of the voyage by steaming between The Skerries and Carmel Head. But not Captain Taylor: he was a veteran employee of the company, Gibb & Bright of Liverpool, who owned the vessel, and was not a man to take risks. What is more, as the ship swung eastwards beyond The Skerries he realized that this final lap, of some 60 sea-miles, would be in the teeth of an east-north-easterly gale. But his 200-h.p. engine was functioning well and he still had plenty of coal in his bunkers. He would give the north coast of Anglesey a wide berth, raise all the steam he could in his boilers, and with luck tie-up in Liverpool Docks inside eight hours, or ten hours at most.
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