Record Details

NHER Number:22884
Type of record:Maritime
Name:19th century wreck, possibly of the Vigo, north of Hemsby Hole


The wreck of a 19th century boat has been revealed by high tides several times over the 20th century. There are records of at least two other 19th century wrecks along this coast (NHER 30728 and NHER 41608). It is unclear whether these are three or more wrecks or the same wreck recorded in different locations. One of the wrecks is the 19th century Vigo, a coal coaster which sunk off Hemsby beach killing all its crew.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 5067 1756
Map Sheet:TG51NW

Full description

Variously dated to 1897, 1908 or 1912. Stated to be the 'Vigo', 21.35m (70 feet) coal coaster, all hands lost.
Known as Littlewood's wreck after local man who had salvage rights. Exposed by spring tides at various dates.

August 1986.
Partly broken up by borough council as danger to bathers. Grid reference from Borough Surveyor.
See (S1).
E. Rose (NAU), 9 September 1986.

30 April 1992. Visit.
Site relocated by E. Rose (NLA) after wreck exposed by spring tidal scour just below high water mark; reported by source as Viking wreck. Semicircle of wooden ribs bending inwards with one separate post suggests stern and rudder post. No trace of remainder. Metal fittings have screw threads confirming recent date. [1] does not believe that this is the Vigo, which he says was located a few yards to the south, and that this site was underneath a bungalow until recent years. This seems hard to reconcile with the topography; however there is no doubt that the wreck is modern. A 'Viking axe' reported from the site has been dated at NCM as 19th/20th century.
E. Rose (NLA), 1 May 1992

16 July 1992. Visit.
Only one timber of the wreck remains. The site is now a large tidal lagoon and scour has removed all other remains.
E. Rose (NLA), 17 July 1992.

D. Gurney (NLA) quotes [2] as also stating that the wreck of the Vigo is at NHER 30728 but states NHER 22884 is an unidentified mid 19th century wreck, from which several bodies were recovered.

D. Gurney (NLA) stated that wreck still visible in July 1994 as in April 1992, despite above entry for July 1992. This raises the question of whether we are not in fact dealing with three wrecks rather than two.

D. Gurney (NLA) repeats that there was formerly a bungalow on the site but (S2) revised 1930 to 1945 and (S3) both show the same layout of chalets as at present.
E. Rose (NLA), 28 July 1994.

August 1994.
[1] states that this was a schooner which sank in 1897, and that there are records of this in the Caister lifeboat shed.
D. Gurney (NLA), 31 August 1994.

September 2001. Visit.
Scour revealed wreck just as it was in 1992 suggesting some exaggeration on part of borough authorities. Perhaps they only buried it, but section visible is just the same as before. The massive stern post is probably the rudder as a large chain attaches it to the remainder. There is a yoke shaped timber inside the stern. Section visible now about 3m across, 1m long north to south but radial length of stern sides 2 to 3m long. BBC television local news stated wreck not exposed since 1799, but local people confirmed that this is the wreck seen in 1986. They stated that there were bungalows (chalets) along here, but not directly on top of the wreck as discussed above.
E. Rose (NLA), 21 September 2001.

Feb 2004. Visit.
Wreck exposed again, now much reduced in size.
See (S4).
E. Rose (NLA), 1 March 2005.

August 2012. Visit and part photo record.
Wreck exposed again.
D. Gurney (HES), 03 August 2012.

Monument Types

  • WRECK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Photograph: Rose, E.. 2001. JZR 17 - 21.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1986. [Articles on the removal of part of a wreck].
<S2>Map: Ordnance Survey, First Edition, 6 Inch. 1879-1886. Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 6 inch map..
<S3>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-7. Ordnance Survey 25 inch 2nd edition (revised 1902-7).
<S4>Photograph: Carr, J. (Yarmouth Museum). 2005. [unknown].

Related records

42493Related to: Possible wreck visible in 1940 on Hemsby beach (Maritime)

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