Blue plaque marks HMS Lutine’s tragic final trip

A blue plaque unveiled to mark Great Yarmouth’s close links to the Lutine Bell.HMS Lutine’s departur

A blue plaque unveiled to mark Great Yarmouth’s close links to the Lutine Bell.HMS Lutine’s departure from the port in 1799 was the last she would ever make; striking sandbanks off the Frisian Islands off Holland, with the loss of 250 passengers and crew.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Another aspect of Great Yarmouth’s history was signposted to locals and visitors with the addition of another blue plaque.

Members of Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeology Society were among those who gathered for the ceremony to honour the town’s close ties to the Lutine Bell, which rang in Lloyds of London every time a ship was lost at sea.

The blue plaque was unveiled by the Mayor of Great Yarmouth, Shirley Weymouth.

It is located on the Martime House on the seafront Marine Parade, the former Shipwrecked Sailors’ Home and currently the Great Yarmouth Tourism headquarters.

Paul Davis of the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeology Society, said: “HMS Lutine’s departure from Great Yarmouth port in 1799 was the last she would ever make.

“It struck sandbags off the Frisian Islands of Holland when it was carrying a £1.5m cargo.

“It saw the loss of 250 passengers and crew.”

Most Read

The cargo the ship was carrying included the Crown Jewels of the Prince of Orange, and today the cargo would be worth billions.

Before the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars letters and documents for the Continent went by “mail packet” from Dover or Harwich.

However, with French ships patrolling the North Sea and the English Channel, following the capture of the Netherlands and the danger from privateers it was felt the English Channel was unsafe so Great Yarmouth was thought to be a safer port for valuable cargoes.

The La Lutine (The Sprite) was originally a French ship captured by the Royal Navy and was commissioned into Admiralty service in 1793 as HMS Lutine. The 44ft-long frigate had a full refit in 1798 and was thought to be generally seaworthy.

During September, convoys of wagons left London under a military escort for Yarmouth where the valuable cargo was loaded onto the Lutine probably via the now demolished Jetty rather than the harbour.

There was a reception on board the Lutine attended by the great and good of Yarmouth but they were hurried off as it was felt a prompt departure was expedient.

At 3.10am the following morning during a north-north west gale, the Lutine struck a sandbank between the islands of Tershelling and Vlieland. There may have been just one survivor but this is not certain.

The sandbanks off the Frisian Islands were known as being notoriously unstable and only a small amount of the cargo was salvaged - most sank into the sands.

The bell of the Lutine however, was salvaged in 1859 and it now hangs on the Rostrum in Lloyds of London.