The 1906 Wreck (Site 5009)

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Plan of wreck 5009Anchors Mast hole Winch 1 Winch 2 Portholes Hatch Engine Safety valve Winch 3 Condenser Boiler 1 Boiler 2 Rudder and propeller


Wreck site 5009 is situated 5.56 nautical miles off Beachy Head in East Sussex, just south of the Royal Sovereign Shoals. The wreck position is 50.41.033 N, 00.22.967E (Geodetic co-ordinates, WGS 84) or E 315009.34, N 5618060.89 (UTM Zone 31N, WGS 84). The wreck lies at a general depth of 15.2m (CD). Depths experienced on site ranged from 23m to 30m.

What is left on the seabed?

The wreck is lying on even keel in southwest - northeast orientation. The stern in the southwest stands 4.5m proud of the seabed and forms the highest part of the wreck. The site measures 75m x 30m including the debris field. The wreck itself measures 66m x 8m.
The aft part of the vessel from the rudder at the stern to the two scotch boilers in the engine room is the best preserved section of the vessel. Internal framing and outer hull plating survive to a level of 2-3m above the seabed.
The intact propeller tunnel runs from the 3m high steam engine to the stern. Engine and boilers are well preserved. Forward of the engine room the upper deck has collapsed onto the hull of the vessel with fittings and machinery still attached in their original positions.
The vessel sides have collapsed outwards.The vessel sides have collapsed outwards. The vessel sides have collapsed outwards and are now lying facing upwards on the seabed. In some areas portholes are still visible in the sides. The bow is heavily damaged and not recognisable. The bow area is covered in metal debris. Sand levels in the bow and midship area are high and parts of the wreck in these areas are partially or fully buried. Debris scatters were observed on both sides of the vessel and in the bow area. Little debris was seen around the stern.

Fittings and Machinery

Common anchors with iron folding stocksCommon anchors with iron folding stocks Even though the upper deck of wreck 5009 has collapsed, machinery and fittings are fairly well preserved. Two anchors with folding stocks, probably a large and small kedge, were observed next to the forward edge of the fore cargo hatch on the upper deck. Both are common anchors with iron folding stocks. They are stored with the stocks folded down, the smaller anchor on top of the larger one.
Parts of an anchor windlass were noted beneath metal debris in the bow area of the vessel. Close to the anchors, 1m long bitts marked the side of the vessel (view image). A wire reel with concreted wire was observed on the seabed between the bitts and anchors (view image).
Aft of the fore cargo hatch and the mast partner plate (view image) a steam winch is fastened in the centre of the upper deck. It is well preserved but covered in marine growth (image 1, 2).
The winch is partly buried and heavily overgrown, but seems to be well preservedThe winch is partly buried and heavily overgrown, but seems to be well preserved A second, slightly larger steam cargo winch is situated 4m further aft. The winch is partly buried and heavily overgrown, but seems to be well preserved.
A third winch has collapsed onto the tunnel in the stern of the vessel. It is lying upside down, covered by its baseplate and could not be recorded other than photographically (view image).
Two scotch boilers and the two cylinder steam engine are the main components preserved in the engine room area. The boilers are 3m long and have a diameter of 3m. The boiler fronts are partially covered with debris and sediment, but stay nuts and fire tubes can be recognised (view image). The boiler shells are made from riveted iron plates. A steam drum with safety valve is attached on top of the starboard boiler (view image). The steam drum on the port side boiler is missing, but the two attachment holes can clearly be seen (view image). A lifting arrangement with lifting eyes and strops was observed on the portside boiler.
A number of pipes have collapsed around and between the two boilers. Some of those probably connected the boilers to the engine. The two cylinder steam engine is well preserved but covered in debris and heavily overgrown. The engine casing is 3.2m long and 1.3m wide. The diameter of the HP cylinder is 1.1m; the LP cylinder is 1.3m in diameter.
A number of hatches were observed among pipes and unrecognisable metal objects.A number of hatches were observed among pipes and unrecognisable metal objects. A feature connected to the engine on the port side is thought to be the condenser. It is approximately 2m high and 1.3m in diameter (image 1, 2). The whole engine room area is covered in debris. A number of hatches were observed among pipes and unrecognisable metal objects. A pump was seen on the starboard side of the engine (view image). Aft of the engine, the propeller shaft disappears in the tunnel.
The main propeller is still attached at the stern. It has four blades, each 1.45m long and 77cm wide at the widest point. The boss has a diameter of 36cm. A spare propeller is located between the two cargo winches. It is partially buried, but one of the blades could be recorded. The blade is 1.39m long and 80cm wide at the widest point. The rudder is still attached to the sternpost of the vessel. The internal plating has corroded away, but the rudder frame and attachment are intact. The lower part of the rudder is buried in sediment (view image).

What is the 1906?

The Shipwreck Index of the British Isles and the Board of Trade Wreck Returns record that a vessel was lost at this position in 1906. Only one vessel with approximately the same dimensions has been identified in the Lloyds Register; the Swedish steamer Talis. It seems likely that the 1906 Wreck is the wreck of the Talis.
The Talis was built as the Dudley by F & W Smith in North Shields in 1865 as an iron screw steamer of 870t gross. In 1870 the Dudley received a two cylinder compound engine. In 1871 she was lengthened to measure 66.42m x 8.59m x 4.63m. The vessel received new boilers in 1878. In 1885 the Dudley was the first ship bought by Walter Runciman, a young entrepreneur who founded the Runciman Co. and the South Shields S.S. Co. She had been laid up on the Tyne when Runciman found her. The fairly old and small steamer was mainly used in the home trades between Trondheim in Norway and Ipswich on the east coast.
Shortly before her sinking the Dudley was bought by Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget Göteborg and renamed Talis. She sank in a collision with the Liverpool steamship Roman on the 22 July 1906 when en route from Llanelli in south Wales to Gävle in Sweden with a cargo of coal.
Based on diver observations, geophysical data and documentary sources a reconstruction of the Talis as she would have looked in 1906 has been attempted. The vessel had a very short forecastle (5.79m). No.1 hold was situated between the mainmast and the forecastle. Two steam cargo winches were fastened on the upper deck aft of the mainmast between the two fore cargo holds. The 14.32m long bridge deck was located just forward of the engine room. Another steam winch and thus possibly another mast were located on the 17.67m long poop. The existence of an aft hold is very likely. Walter Runciman was one of the first ship owners to abolish square yards and sails on his ships. Because of this the Talis is depicted with short masts and without sails.


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