Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre has the Scarborough Harbour Masters Diary from March 6th 1906 to June 18th 1908. This is a fragile document which cannot go on general display so a general description of its contents is given below and selected extracts of interesting incidents are being produced.
The diary is hand written in ink and gives an interesting insight into the day to day running of the harbour and the daily activities undertaken.
Every morning, the barometer and thermometer readings are recorded along with the wind direction. The strength of the wind is described in words e.g. light, moderate or gale force and the sea state is described e.g. as calm, rough, heavy swell. Often visibility is also described particularly when it is foggy. Some days, when there is a change in the weather there are further barometer reading and comments on the conditions made in the evening.
There then follows a list of vessels arriving and departing on the tide. Many are named and some are regular visitors. Others are given general terms such as “scotch boats”, yawls, Dutch boats and occasionally Penzance boats. Unfortunately, the details do not always include the type of vessel or cargo, but it is clear most are involved in fishing but there are mentions of coastal steamers and passenger vessels as well as yachts. Some vessels are reported as discharging materials such as coal, cement and timber.
In fine weather in the summer a number of vessels ran trips to sea for holiday makers. There are records of some running 6 or 7 trips each day. When the Royal Navy Fleet anchored off Scarborough, many trips were run for sightseers to view the warships.
The number of men working at the harbour is not recorded. A mason and assistant were employed who seem to have spent considerable time repairing the East pier. In later entries he is named as Coultas. There was also a carpenter who spent a lot of time repairing piles damaged by vessels but he is not named. There were also gangs of men loading and unloading vessels but when the harbour was quiet, (usually at low water) they were often employed painting.
One regular job was to inspect the exposed mud at low tide to remove any stones and to fill in any holes in the mud. As much of the harbour dries out at low tide, most vessels settle on the mud. If they settle on large stones, damage can be done to the ship’s hull. The stones are removed and loaded into a lighter along with mud dredged from the harbour and other rubbish and disposed at sea. Most days it is recorded that the lighter is towed out to sea with 30 to 35 tons on board.
As Scarborough harbour dries at low tide, there a numerous reports of ships and boats running aground. Another reoccurring problem was ships which were moored alongside the quay or piers and as the tide fell, they grounded and lay on to their side away from the pier, again causing damage to the hull and bulwarks. The harbour master regularly advises ships masters to lean their vessel in towards the quay and to run a line from the mast head to a mooring point on the quay.
The harbour master has frequent disputes with the masters of some vessels. Some of these seem to have been heated discussions with the diary reporting that the masters and crew used foul and abusive language towards the harbour master or are describes as insolent. Usually it was about where a vessel should moor so it did not create obstruction to the navigation of other vessels.
The diary records many unusual and interesting events outside the normal operation of the harbour. The major events are being transcribed separately.
On Monday 6th June 1907 there was a serious incident at Scarborough Harbour recorded in the diary.
The Harbour Master records that “The mason and 3 labours were moving a crane round to the outer pier with the help of tackle and horses. At about 2.00pm, when the horses were pulling the crane off St Vincent Pier, the jib head fouled the overhead wire of the tramway and Coultas the mason and Robert Rumford got a severe shock. They got a tackle and pulled the crane back clear of the wire and released the horses which had got a good many of shocks before the crane was pulled back.
Atkinson & Carter, in trying to unyoke the horses also got several shocks. They sent for the doctor but before he came the sufferers had recovered so did not need his services and were able to resume work.
Note:- the tramway wire will have been the overhead power source for the passenger trams which ran along Sandside and terminated approximately where the Lunar Park amusements are now. The trams would have used dc current which gives less severe shocks than ac current. If it had been ac there would have been fatalities.
On Thursday 21st February 1907 there was an international incident.
The Harbour Master reports “NW gale throughout with heavy seas moderating towards midnight with keen frost. 10.00pm the Hecla, French trawler, parted her storm moorings. Made her fast with large manila springs belonging to pier. 2 six inch manila ropes across Bridgeway for storm ropes and tendered to her until tide was done taking slack in ropes and parcelling same, also used broken wire for storm spring, crew rendering little or no aid. Three pier men, R. Jenkinson of Cambria and several of the Greyhound's crew doing the work. During one terrific run, vessel sheered right off from pier and had storm ropes parted, vessel would probably have been swept out of harbour. Ordered the Capt. to have steam ready so as to steam ahead and ground in harbour if storm ropes broke.
Friday 22nd February 1907 Bar. 29.56 Ther. 36
Commences with fresh NW gale and heavy sea which caused very heavy run. Pier men busily employed in tending the ropes put on board the French trawler Hecla tightening same and parcelling them. Crew of Hecla giving no assistance, indeed all turned in but the watchman. 8.00am sent letter to French Consul by special messenger informing him that the Hecla had parted her moorings and but for the prompt action of the pier men in remooring her with pier ropes she would have suffered disaster, that the master must take steps to look after the safety of his ship, that he must get rope to secure his ship and that the responsibility of neglecting to do so was his. I also asked the Consul to come down and tell the master what required in French as no one on board spoke English. The Consul de France came down at about 10.00 am and told the Master he must look to his own vessel and I told the Master through the Consul that he could shift his vessel to the Fish Market and that for 10/- the tug Cambria would take him there but he refused to move or produce any ropes but agreed to pay for the use of pier ropes.
Saturday 23rd February 1907. Bar. 29.77 Ther. 36
Sea still heavy from the North, weather cold and frosty with heavy snow showers and strong NW wind, run in harbour still very heavy. Hecla still in harbour using pier ropes.
Sunday 24th February 1907 Bar. 29.9 Ther. 39.
Weather - fine wind from westward, sea smooth. Hecla French trawler sailed for Shields at 0.30 pm. Telegraphed Hecla’s sailing at 5.00 pm to French owners “Hecla sorti tout bien Midi” cost 1/7. On examining pier ropes used by Hecla from 10.00pm Feb.21st to noon of this day and also to check her out with, we found the rope used as springs, 25 fathoms of 6 or 7 inch manila very badly chafed and also broken, in fact pretty well useless due to severe strain. The 50 fathoms of 6 or 7 inch manila used as storm mooring were severely squeezed and strained but not chafed. Pair of iron bitts torn out of pier and broken in half. Mooring post near waterhouse to which spring had been made fast slanted in pier. Cement round mooring post on Lighthouse pier to which storm mooring were attached cracked and stones chipped a little. Steps near waterhouse cut with wire and ropes and also the oak piling chafed – which all showed the very heavy strain on the ropes which certainly saved her from breaking adrift and running out of harbour. The Hecla been very poorly supplied with bitts for mooring ropes made it necessary that we used what she had even though it made a bad lead for the ropes.”
Bar = Barometer pressure in inches of mercury.
Ther. = Thermometer temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.
Friday 3rdAugust 1906
Imes of Lanskrona from Oruscalecreek with wood. Berthed in lower berth alongside St. Vincent pier at 2.00pm. Allowed Master to discharge part of deckload onto pier up to 5.00pm altho Consignor made no attempt to clear any away. The Master on his own authority gave his ship an unusually heavy list although warned by the Deputy H.M. towards the quay putting considerable weight on his bulwarks and chain plates.
Saturday August 4th1906. As a result of the heavy list the Imes did some damage to her bulwarks and chain plates. At 9.30 am I handed the Master of the Imes a letter as he had neglected to obey orders – “Please take notice that in accordance with our regulations you must at once rig in your jib boom. Will you also cease from piling up the quay with wood until the heap is considerably reduced. We require the pile to be cleared by Sunday and bank holiday (Monday next) so as not in any way endanger the crowds of people or obstruct their free passage.” After the pier was cleaned allowed the Imes to discharge as quickly as the receiver took the cargo away. At the end of days work the Imes had a very heavy list in towards the quay & was warned by the Deputy Harbour Master that it was endangering his rails and chain plates & the Master was advised to trim his ship more upright. The Captain did not take any notice and left the ship so.
Sunday Aug 5th1906 At 5.30 am the Master of the barquentine Imes made a request that he might be allowed to discharge and stack some of his deck cargo on the quay as his ship was leaky. In reply I wrote him as follows. “ In reply to your request and because your vessel is making water I will allow you to land and stack on the pier a portion of your deckload this Sunday morning. You must understand that it is at your own risk. You must also keep you vessel listed towards the pier for her safety.
Note. There is no further mention of the Imes until:-
Wednesday Aug 15th1906. Imes barquentine for Sunderland in tow of Stag.
Note. Lanskrona is a port in Sweden between Helsingborg and Malmo. Oruscalecreek cannot be traced; this may be due to it being spelt wrong by the by the Harbour Master or the name may have been changed. Suggest it was a Scandinavian port exporting timber.