Another 'Lutine' in the Yarmouth roads...

The "Guernsey Lily"

- by Pascal Kainic -

Yarmouth, England – 1832

There is a small cutter now lying in Yarmouth roadstead belonging to a man named Bell. Her crew consists of six men, several of whom are singularly expert in diving.

She sailed about from place to place, to offer assistance to recover some lost treasure.

She has arrived, by the permission of the Admiralty, for the purpose of endeavouring to obtain a portion of the treasure lost in the "Guernsey Lily", transport, which got on the Cross Sand, floated off and afterwards foundered in the centre of Yarmouth roads, 3 miles east off the jetty, in forty-three feet of water.

The "Lily" was coming from Holland after the Duke of York’s expedition in 1799, and was laden with horses, ammunitions, along with twenty-five brass field pieces, a stock of wine etc… and a large quantity of specie.

The method these divers use is curious: The cutter is first placed immediately over the wreck, the diver then, habited in an Indian-rubber air-tight dress, having a tube attached at the back of the neck to receive the air, which is constantly kept pumping in, descends from a rope ladder and gives signal for certain things o be sent down by a small line, which is attended to by those on deck of the cutter.

By this line, baskets and other utensils are sent down for the use of he divers, and set up again with wine etc…taken from the wreck.

The diver’s head-dress is curious; it is composed of copper and is a complete covering, made much after the manner of the ancient helmet, only that it is much larger than the head and has in its upper part, three glass windows and weighs 50 pounds. He has two other dresses, on besides that above mentioned.

He carries down with him 120 lbs. of lead in two bags. With all this weight, he declares that, when in the water, he appears perfectly free from weight or encumbrance of any sort.

There has already been brought a large quantity of wine (the bottles curiously tattooed with large and small oysters), some copper, iron handles of chests, pieces of gun carriages etc… They soon hope to be in possession of the brass guns, valuable plate and the dollars, which it was known the transport had on board for the purpose of paying the troops employed in the above-mentioned expedition.

The Admiralty, we understand, has handsomely given permission to Captain Bell to make use he pleases of the article found, only conditioning that the brass guns (if recovered) shall be given up, for which they will return their value.

Great numbers of persons from different parts of the country have been off, to view this novel and singular undertaking. Boatmen are in constant attendance, to take off, at moderate charge, those persons who wish to witness this effort of human ingenuity and enterprise.

The diver, when under water, finds his strength so increased, that he can bend the ends together of the large iron crow-bar of 3½ feet long and 2½ inches in size, which he takes down with him, to part the wreck. These divers go down alternatively about twice a day, but are compelled to take advantage of the tides, when it is slack water.

The first descent was on Saturday and has been repeated every day since, which has proved a great treat to numbers of all ranks who have attended to observe this surprising, perhaps unequalled exhibition.

Still more treasure to salvage nowadays...!?


  • Ryan
    • 1. Ryan On 26/11/2008
    Do you have more info on this one ? I am interested...

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