May 19 2013 Latest news:
By DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
She has lain submerged in her sandy north Norfolk sarcophagus for more than 100 years.
At the end of January 1897 there was a storm which lasted several days and extensive damage was caused along the whole of England’s east coast.
Carrying a cargo of ice, the German-built, 216 ton Ispolen, left Kragero in Norway on January 19 and although originally bound for Gravesend it was driven ashore at Sheringham on January 23 at 3.30pm.
On board was captain Isak Lowe and this was his first trip as master of the vessel, which was then owned by Allcock of London.
It was spotted in trouble at 11am by Sheringham’s lifeboat crews and, out of the three boats available, the private Henry Ramey Upcher lifeboat was launched to rescue the crew.
Coxswain of the lifeboat from 1894-1898, Tom Barnes Cooper lead the team of volunteers to the Ispolen and, despite working in life-risking conditions, managed to save all eight people on board.
They received medical attention at the Two Lifeboats Coffee House and were given warm clothes by the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society.
Occasionally enough sand has been scoured away to enable a brief peep at the surroundings before she disappeared again.
But now, thanks to a coincidental collision of unusual weather conditions, the wreck of the Ispolen has given intrigued Sheringham beach visitors their best ever glimpse of her faded glory.
Lost under the town’s sand since 1897, she was driven ashore following a storm.
Carrying a cargo of ice, the boat had left Norway on January 19 bound for Gravesend. But after it got into difficulties the private lifeboat Henry Ramey Upcher - led by veteran coxswain Tom Barnes Cooper - was launched.
"Visitors to the town see the plaque on the promenade but if they could come back during winter then they would see how enthralling it is."
All eight people on the Ispolen were brought back to safety.
And the wreck has lain preserved by the sand ever since - becoming visible only occasionally when certain winter-time weather conditions scour the sand away to reveal her ribs.
Coastal engineer and resident Brian Farrow said this was the clearest view of the Ispolen’s remains in 10 years.
“Traditionally in the winter-time beaches are eroded and get much lower because of the prevailing weather conditions - basically rough seas,” he explained.
“Beaches move by weather patterns and this year they have gone lower than they have in many years. This is because during the last spring tides there was an easterly swell which made a scouring tide known as ‘wind over wave’.”
This means the waves from the North Sea, which move towards Great Yarmouth, have been affected by an easterly thrust so that the wind pushes the waves in the opposite way that the water is moving.
Mr Farrow added that over the next few months the sand would be pushed landwards again and by the end of March, the Ispolen remains would vanish for another year.
When this would happen again still remained a mystery, but he said the sight was “a good link with Sheringham’s history”.
Local historian Peter Cox is the co-author of a book called The Wreck of Ispolen and has lived in Sheringham for 40 years.
With Tim Groves they discovered the famous rescue of the crew when researching the history of the Henry Ramey Upcher lifeboat.
Mr Cox hoped that weather conditions would keep the brig preserved for at least another 200 years.
“It’s been there since 1897 and no one will move it as it’s embedded into the chalk,” he said.
“Visitors to the town see the plaque on the promenade but if they could come back during winter then they would see how enthralling it is.”
He emphasised that it had been one of the biggest sea rescues in Sheringham’s history and reached national importance after wealthy families from London collected donations for the lifeboat crew - a total of £40 which was shared between them. This was the equivalent to one year’s earnings for a fisherman at the time.
Irene Saunders, 51, of Kettering, has been holidaying in Sheringham for 20 years and said this year had been the first time she had seen the remains.
“I feel quite fortunate to have been able to get so close to it. It’s in really good condition but I think it should be owned by heritage to ensure it is looked after as it would be a shame if it became damaged.”
Other locations revealed by this year’s low sand level includes Cromer’s old jetty next to the pier and chalk exposure near Sheringham’s lifeboat museum.
● To view a photo gallery of the Ispolen wreck click the top, right-hand corner of the webpage.