Shipwrecks in Talland Bay

No.1 - An heroic rescue in Talland Bay

the French trawler 'Marguerite' - photo copyright: Rex Raddy

Wreck of the Marguerite aground in Talland Bay 1922 (photo courtesy of Rex Raddy)

On Friday, 3rd March 1922 the French trawler 'Marguerite' went aground in Talland Bay, having lost her bearings in a south-westerly gale.

A modern steam trawler of 220 tons, equipped with radio, the 'Marguerite' transmitted an SOS signal but, being unaware of her true position, the coastguard at Looe received a message saying she was aground on the Eddystone reef. The coast was enveloped in a thick drizzle and the wind was blowing strongly from the south-west when the 'Ryder' lifeboat was launched from Looe under the command of her coxswain, Thomas Toms.

About half an hour later a message was received from Polperro saying that the trawler was aground in Talland Bay. Recall signals were fired and the motor lugger 'Dorothy' belonging to Mr J. Whynall put to sea and took the 'Ryder' under tow to Talland Bay so that her crew did not have to beat into the wind and sea.

Ryder lifeboat restored, under sail in Talland Bay

The restored Ryder lifeboat under sail off Talland Bay in 1999

On arrival at Talland Bay, coxswain Toms let go his anchor and, in a magnificent piece of seamanship, veered the lifeboat down to the wreck which was hard aground in among the rocks with seas breaking over her. A total of 21 people, including the ten-year-old son of the skipper of the 'Marguerite', were rescued in what is regarded as the 'Ryder's most meritorious act during her 28 years service at Looe.

The story is told that a guard was put on shore at Talland to prevent any of the Marguerite's gear or the 50 tons of fish aboard her being 'liberated' but that the locals, not wishing to let good food go to waste, boarded her from seaward. Much to their disgust, the fish had been contaminated by the carbide used for the lamps and had gone pink! To this day, at low tide, the boiler of the 'Marguerite' can be seen on the rocks in the middle of Talland Bay.

The 'Ryder' lifeboat, now fully restored, can be seen in Polperro harbour alongside the Heritage Museum (Please visit the Polperro website for more information about the Ryder lifeboat - click here.

Jeremy Johns, Polperro Heritage Museum
© 2000

Photo of François Fourny, shipowner, copyright Marie-Adrienne Fourny
François Fourny, owner of the trawler "Marguerite"

Footnote: We are pleased to be able to add some more information about the Marguerite, the ship which was wrecked in Talland Bay in 1922. Marie-Adrienne Fourny, the great-grandaughter of François Fourny, who owned the ship, happened to visit our website and read about the wreck of the ship and the rescue of its crew. She is intending to visit Talland with her father and has contributed this information and photographs:

At the beginning of the 20th century François Fourny was one of the leading shipowners in Boulogne-sur-Mer where the Marguerite was built in 1905. François Fourny's shipping company owned several other trawlers. He named his vessels after his children, and the Marguerite was named after Marie-Adrienne's great aunt.

In later years, other Fourny ships were lost. The trawler Marie was sunk by a mine in the Channel in 1915. La Slack and the Jeanne Marie were destroyed during the Second World War (La Slack was sunk by a British warship during the raid on St. Nazaire in March 1942). Another Fourny trawler, the Cote d'Opale, was lost with all hands in 1947 between Norway and the Shetlands.

The loss of the Marguerite was not the only disaster at sea that the Fourny family suffered. François Fourny's great-grandfather, Nicholas Fourny, was killed aboard his ship the Liberte des Mers in a sea battle in 1810 against a British man-of-war, the Friendship.

Marie-Adrienne Fourny, Paris
© November 2001

See also news item on Polperro website - click here.

photo of the Marguerite leaving Boulogne, copyright Marie-Adrienne Fourny
The Marguerite leaving Boulogne where she was based

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