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24 September 2014

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You are in: Cornwall > History > Local History > The TW Lawson

TW Lawson

The TW Lawson

It's a hundred years since the tragic sinking of the Thomas W Lawson, a seven masted ship, which hit a storm off the Isles of Scilly and was wrecked on Annet. The National Maritime museum in Falmouth is marking the anniversary with a small exhibit.

Built by the Fore River Ship and Engine Company, Massachusetts in 1902, the Thomas W Lawson was the only seven-masted sailing ship of modern times and, at 404 feet in length, she was also the largest pure sailing ship (without an auxiliary engine).

The ship was named for Thomas W. Lawson, the "copper baron", a Boston millionaire, stock-broker, book author, and President of the Boston "Bay State Gas Co." at that time.

TW Lawson

The TW Lawson

In November 1907 she set out on her one and only transatlantic voyage from Pennsylvania to London with a cargo of two and a quarter million gallons of paraffin oil.

According to the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth; on Friday 13 December 1907 after surviving severe gales, her crew mistook the Bishop Rock lighthouse for a passing schooner and anchored to the northwest of Annet off the Isles of Scilly.

The St Agnes and St Mary’s lifeboats were launched from the mainland, as concerns increased for the safety of the crew but although they offered to take the crew off the ship, the captain refused.

That night the Lawson parted both anchor chains and left to the mercy of the raging seas the pounding schooner was smashed against Shag Rock near Annet by tremendously heavy seas after having grounded the dangerous underwater rocks.

All seven masts broke off and fell into the sea with all seamen who had climbed up the rigging for safety on their captain's command. The stern section broke apart behind mast no. 6, drifting off the capsizing and sinking ship.

The next day the six oared gig Slippen was launched to search among the rocks for survivors. They managed to rescue the Captain, George Dow, and the Engineer, Edward Rowe but the rest of the crew, along with local pilot William Cook Hicks, were all lost in the wreck.

For more details and information click on the link below:

last updated: 18/06/2008 at 15:56
created: 18/06/2008

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