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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Tyne

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Myths and Legends
Lighthouse on Inner Farne

© Ian Britton,
Grace Darling: Victorian heroine

Daring rescue

Grace Darling was the daughter of a lighthouse keeper on the Farne Islands, located off the coast of Northumberland. The beauty of these islands belies the treacherous obstacle they pose to ships, with their jagged rocks waiting below the water’s surface. On 6 September 1838, a violent storm sent down the SS Forfarshire at the Big Harcar rocks, ¾ of a mile from the Darlings’ Longstone Lighthouse. Out of approximately 60 crew and passengers on board, nine escaped using the vessel’s lifeboat, of the rest, nine survived by clinging to rocks.

Grace Darling looking to her right
Grace Darling, Henry Perlee Parker, 1838
© Courtesy of RNLI
The survivors’ plight was realised by Grace and her father William at dawn on 7 September 1838. In the absence of any of Mr. Darling’s sons, Grace accompanied him in their boat, a coble, in a bid to save these stranded survivors. As her father leapt onto the rocks to assess the priority of the survivors, Grace rowed the coble back and forth, keeping it clear of the treacherous rocks. The nine survivors, four crewmen and five passengers, remained on Longstone Lighthouse for three days until returning to the mainland when the storm subsided.

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