HistoricaLeigh: "Dreadful SOUTHEND hurricane—Loss of thirteen lives by shipwreck"

March 12, 2019 by Carole Mulroney of Leigh Lives


The vagaries of wind, weather and water meant that the bodies of the Leigh men were not all recovered immediately and the  burial registers for St Clement’s show that their burials took place over a period of weeks.

Charles Brady,  who left a pregnant wife and 3 children,  and Henry Wade, were found more or less straight away and  both were buried on 17 March 

Robert Noakes  who had a wife and a new born baby he possibly never saw was not buried at Leigh so he was    either not recovered or lies in an unnamed grave elsewhere.

Frederick Fairchild’s body is recorded in the parish register has having been found off Shoeburyness and he was not buried until 10 May.

Like the Great Storm of 1987 the hurricane wreaked havoc over all of the country but particularly hit the coastal areas and the 4 brave Leigh men were not the only ones to lose their lives that night


On Wednesday night, between eight and nine o’clock, Southend was visited by a most tremendous storm of wind and rain, the severity of which has not been equalled for many years, and its effects have been most melancholy and disastrous. Windows were blown in, and slates, tiles, etc., were hurled in all directions. About half-past twelve o’clock the tempest began to subside, and day-break presented to the view, the wreck of no fewer than six boats which had been driven from their anchors, all of which had substantial serious damage, and many were completely destroyed, being driven by the violence of the wind against the wharfs and piles of the pier, until they were not only complete wrecks, but had the appearance of chopped up for fire-wood; such destruction among the boats here was never before witnessed, and the most distressing circumstance is, they were mostly the property of poor hard-working men, who have no other means of subsistence.

A schooner was perceived early on the same morning, with signals of distress, just below the light-house. A Leigh boat went to her assistance, and put four of her hands on board her; they weighed anchor, and were running for the north shore, the wind blowing strong at the time. A few minutes would have brought her on the sand, but being water-logged, she unfortunately sunk, and every soul on board perished, together with the four men who were in a boat at the stern of the schooner, and it is supposed, from the sudden occurrence, had not time to detach from the ship. This unfortunate catastrophe happened at about half-past nine o’clock in the morning, a short distance from shore, in the presence of hundreds of their fellow creatures, who could not render them any assistance; and after withstanding the fury of the gale during the whole of the previous night. On Saturday, boats from Leigh were in search of the bodies, and succeeded in picking up one of the men, and one of the crew of the schooner. Divers, also, descended to the wreck, and brought up the ship’s boat, by which it was ascertained that the ill-fated vessel was the Brisk, of London, Captain Fossarn, laden with coals. It is stated by one of the crew of the Leigh boat, that the crew consisted of seven persons, and that a woman and child were on board, making in whole thirteen souls, all hurried into eternity by this melancholy event.

The names of the Leigh men drowned were, Charles Brady, aged 30; Robert Noakes, aged 24; Henry Wade, 17; and Frederick Fairhead, aged 13.

This article is by Carole Mulroney of Leigh Lives - www.leighlives.co.uk
To read all of Carole's previous article of the History of our little town, click here 


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