It was a freezing cold November day - and this sight drew thousands of people to the Hartlepool coast

Sightseers by the hundreds turned up to view the Anne.
Sightseers by the hundreds turned up to view the Anne.

On a cold weekend in November, thousands of sightseers headed for Hartlepool’s coastline to enjoy the view.

But this was a view with a difference in 1985.

The marooned freighter Anne became a tourist attraction.

The marooned freighter Anne became a tourist attraction.

It was the sight of a 1,486 tonne coke carrying cargo ship which had been battered during storms.

What happened next was a story of love and devotion in many different ways,

Chris Cordner reports.

The story of the marooned freighter Anne made headlines for two weeks in Hartlepool.

Crowds again turned out in force along Seaton Carew seafront

Hartlepool Mail reporter, 1985

From the moment she was beached in the heavy seas of an autumn storm, the Anne was in the spotlight and so was her skipper, Captain Hubertus Rademakers.

His crew was recued by lifeboat but Heine stayed put. He never once left the ship he adored - other than a brief journey into Hartlepool to thank children who had backed him all the way.

His devotion touched lots of people including the schoolchildren of Hartlepool.

Pupils of Jesmond Road School wrote him letters and drew him pictures to cheer him up during his lonely vigil.

Captain Rademakers with the letters and paintings which lifted his spirits.

Captain Rademakers with the letters and paintings which lifted his spirits.

After more than a week on board the ship, he admitted the package of paintings and letters was lovely. Teacher Sylvia Shepherd said at the time: “They wanted to do something to cheer the captain up so they each painted him a picture and wrote a little line on it.”

Capt Rademakers admitted: “It was a real morale booster.”

But it was a temporary relief from his ship’s plight. Repeated efforts to free the Anne all faltered.

Not that it affected the people of Hartlepool and their love for Capt Rademakers and his ship. Thousands of people drove to the seafront to watch the rescue attempts led by Tees Towing.

It was quite an effort and while rescuers toiled on the seas, the roads of Hartlepool were struggling to cope with tourist numbers.

Salvage attempts continued for two weeks and on one occasion, a tug tried to pull the ship free using a 10ins thick rope only for the line to snap twice.

It all ended on November 27 when Anne was eventually refloated at high tide - once again with sightseers in their droves.

Tugs, lifeboats, a police launch and a helicopter all took part in the rescue while Captain Rademakers still refused to part company with his ship which was named after his wife Anne.

The bid to free the Anne began at 2.05am on November 27, and almost ended where it stood. There were reports of the Anne taking in water.

The hold began to flood after her tanks collapsed but determined rescuers managed to fix a temporary block to get the freighter the last few miles of her journey.

She was taken to the safety of a Sunderland dock where Hubertus got the chance to ring home to Roosendahl in Holland.

His daughter Ersze answered. He could tell his family he was quite alright despite the drama.

Who remembers the drama of the Anne and how Hartlepool took the story to its heart? Were you there? Get in touch. Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk