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  The Final Voyage of the "Norman Court"
drawing of Norman court in full sail
Designed by William Rennie, the Norman Court was built in 1869 by A. & J. Inglis at their shipyard in Glasgow for a total cost of £16,005. She was launched at the shipyard for Baring Bros, London.

The Norman Court proved over and over again that she was one of the best tea clippers of her day and she was always in the top flight of the China trade. Her record passage was 94 days out from Macao to the Lizard in 1872. Her best week's work was in 1874 when she went 2,046 miles. There were a few instances when Norman Court had the better of Sir Lancelot, another of the fastest tea clippers of her time.

Thomas Baring sold her in 1881 to Baine & Johnson. The new owners put her into the Java sugar trade and appointed Captain McBride as her Master. She continued regularly to ply her trade routes for the next couple of years, until her sad and tragic demise.

On 29 March 1883 the 'Norman Court' ran aground in Cymyran Bay between Rhoscolyn and Ynys Feirig (known to locals as Starvation Island) during a wild, South Westerly gale. On this particular voyage, her cargo was over 1,000 tons of sugar from Java on route to Greenock on the Firth of Clyde.The captain tried desperately to turn the ship but she had swung broadside on and the seas were breaking over her. She ran aground on the shoals of Cymyran. The breakers in the shoal were very heavy making a rescue attempt a difficult and dangerous affair.

The lifeboat at Rhoscolyn was not available as she had put into Porth Diana, Trearddur Bay, for repairs having been damaged the day before whilst aiding a vessel in distress on the treacherous reef of Ynysoedd Ffrydiau.

The Rhosneigr lifeboat made the first attempt to reach the Norman Court but after trying repeatedly, she was finally driven back to shore. The crew were exhausted and disheartened and narrowly escaped with their lives.

The secretary of the Rhoscolyn Lifeboat, Colonel Marshall, contacted the Holyhead Lifeboat Station. Coxwain Edward Jones and a volunteer crew arrived by a special train at a point on the line nearest the wreck. The men fought their way across the moor in the fierce gale, launched the Rhosneigr Lifeboat through the heavy surf, and eventually rescued 20 men from the ship. They had been holding on to the rigging for over twenty four hours. Two of the ship's crew had died from exposure. The ship was totally wrecked and for years her remains have marked the spot.

picture of the Norman Court
The wreck is now visited regularly by divers. It lies in shallow water and at particularly low tides is partly visible. The ship's wheel and bell were salvaged and are now in the care of a local collector.
Thanks go to Mr. Wilson, whose grandfather and great grandfather had both been Masters of the Norman Court, for some of the images on this page. His contributions can be seen in higher quality in the Gallery (Site Pictures). He also sent some copies of detailed accounts of the history of the Norman Court and the discovery of the wreck - please contact us if you'd like more information.

Survey of the Wreck
 
Worsley Sub-Aqua Club, in association with the Nautical Archaeological Society, are in the process of surveying the wreck of the Norman Court. Their progress and more details about the ship can be found at their website: www.normancourt.homestead.com
 
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