- On 25/09/2015
- In Famous Wrecks
From Plymouth Herald
Nearly 100 years ago the Plymouth Breakwater was the scene of a catastrophic shipwreck as a vessel attempted to escape the rough seas by sailing into Plymouth.
On August 8, 1920 the four-masted barquentine Yvonne smashed into the rocks and the ship's crew were forced to scramble to safety on the breakwater's surface. Hours later the Plymouth lifeboat and the tug Rover arrived just in time to pull the sailors from the water – as waves 10metres high were breaking over the Yvonne.
This terrifying scene has been captured by local artist Tim Thompson, commissioned by Plymouth man David Rendle. David, aged 79, remembers playing on the breakwater as a child and wanted something to remember his precious memories by.
He said: "I was looking down at the breakwater with my grandchildren, and my youngest granddaughter said to me 'Grandad, what's that post on the end with the ball on top ?' "I said 'That's the Plymouth Beacon.
When I was perhaps just a year or two older than you I used to go out there, and one day I plucked up the courage to climb the steps of it'.
"David, who lives in Peverell, explained how the beacon on the eastern end of the breakwater was designed as a refuge for up to six shipwrecked sailors. It is most likely the crew of the Yvonne tried to make their way towards the Beacon, and even attempted to climb it.
He said: "It's all very well to talk about it, but I wanted to have this painting done as I knew it would make a lovely subject. It really is a terrific picture."