'I couldn't believe my eyes' - snorkeller finds 125-year-old shipwreck

Chris Taylor came across the wreck of the SS Commodore off Sheringham. 

Chris Taylor came across the wreck of the SS Commodore off Sheringham. - Credit: christaylorphoto.co.uk

A filmmaker has found a 125-year-old shipwreck while snorkelling off the north Norfolk coast.

Chris Taylor, from Sheringham, was swimming off-shore on September 10 when he stumbled on the rusting remains of the Commodore, a coal-bearing vessel that ran aground in November, 1896.

He said: "I couldn't believe my eyes. It made me jump actually. I saw this big shadow looming out at me and then suddenly realised I was looking at a shipwreck."

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. 

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. - Credit: christaylorphoto.co.uk

For years the wreck had been buried under sand in the shallow water just west of Sheringham's lifeboat station, with parts occasionally poking out of the seabed - but recent weather has scoured the sediment away, revealing the ship's skeleton of wooden beams and rusting steel plates.

"I've been with the lifeboat for 20 years and the helmsman always says to be careful around there, there's a wreck just under the surface," Mr Taylor said.

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. 

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. - Credit: christaylorphoto.co.uk


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"For the last two or three years I've always hoped I would find it and I've looked in the area where I thought it would be."

After finding the ship, Mr Taylor posted photos on Facebook hoping to find out more details about how the ship came to rest in the seabed.

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. 

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. - Credit: christaylorphoto.co.uk

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Kenny Holloway, an ex-RNLI crew member who volunteers at Sheringham Museum and has a keen interest in shipwrecks, confirmed the remains belong to the Commodore, a ship that ran aground on November 7, 1896.

A news report at the time said: "The night was very dirty and thick with rain."

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. 

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. - Credit: christaylorphoto.co.uk

After the ship had run aground on rocks, local fishermen rowed out to help, but a gale blew up and the small boats returned to shore, leaving three fishermen onboard.

The Commodore's captain then fired distress rockets and the lifeboat the 'Henry Ramey Upcher' was launched, rescuing 14 crew members, as well as the fishermen.

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. 

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. - Credit: christaylorphoto.co.uk

The vessel had come from West Hartlepool and was carrying 1,250 tonnes of coal.

Six years later, the wreck was declared a hazard to local fishing boats and officials used explosive charges to blow it into smaller pieces.

In January last year, further along the coast, super-low tides revealed the remains of the Swedish vessel SS Fernebo on Cromer's East Beach - 103 years to the day since it was blown apart by an explosion near Cromer Pier.

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. 

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. - Credit: christaylorphoto.co.uk

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. 

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. - Credit: christaylorphoto.co.uk

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. 

The wreck of the SS Commodore, which ran aground off Sheringham in 1896. - Credit: christaylorphoto.co.uk


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