It's exactly 35 years since this drama brought hundreds of tourists to Seaton Carew

Memories of The Anne at Seaton.Memories of The Anne at Seaton.
Memories of The Anne at Seaton.
It was possibly the most unexpected tourist attraction Seaton Carew has ever had.

And would you believe it, it’s 35 years ago this month that the 1,486-tonne Dutch freighter Anne Roosendaal became stranded on Seaton Carew sands.

What happened next was remarkable. Sightseers galore flocked to the coast despite the biting cold winds, and the seafront was packed with traffic.

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There were even opportunities to have your photo taken next to the ship for 50 pence a go.

Crowds watch the rescue attempts of The Anne in November 1985.Crowds watch the rescue attempts of The Anne in November 1985.
Crowds watch the rescue attempts of The Anne in November 1985.

Today, we take a look back at the news from 1985 as it happened and ask ‘were you there?’

The Anne had been anchored off Hartlepool, waiting to deliver petroleum coke, when she was swept onto the Longscar rocks during a storm.

The date was November 9. The ship was still there until November 27.

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"We were in bed when the alarm sounded. You could feel the ship shaking and we knew she was in trouble, " said chief mate Ger Striekland."

Queues of traffic at Seaton Carew as sightseers turn up to see the ship.Queues of traffic at Seaton Carew as sightseers turn up to see the ship.
Queues of traffic at Seaton Carew as sightseers turn up to see the ship.

Captain Heine Rademakers also spoke to the Mail at the time. He said: “We have lost an anchor and the rudder is broken but the rest of the ship seems OK."

The captain, however, refused to leave his vessel and vowed: "I will be staying on board until she is re-floated. Under the circumstances I am well."

The Anne soon became a big local hit.

As the time ticked by, the captain and crew became local celebrities and kind-hearted residents even started a collection to pay for their upkeep.

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Captain Rademakers with some of the cards he received from Hartlepool school children.Captain Rademakers with some of the cards he received from Hartlepool school children.
Captain Rademakers with some of the cards he received from Hartlepool school children.

Captain Rademakers’ crew was rescued 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.

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

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."

Work to re-float The Anne went on for weeks.Work to re-float The Anne went on for weeks.
Work to re-float The Anne went on for weeks.

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

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Not that it affected the people of Hartlepool and their love for Capt Rademakers. 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.

"At one stage during a rescue bid, traffic in both directions ground to a halt along Coronation Drive and the Front, " stated the Mail.

One eye-witness to the whole saga spoke to the Mail two years ago. Back then, Ralph Bantoft told how he was an acting police Sgt at the time and remembered that he and an inspector arrived to find the ship struggling in waves which reached 30ft to 40ft high.

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"The ship was still stern on. We were there when it hit the rocks, " said Ralph who stayed at the scene after the inspector went back to the office.

The ship became a tourist attraction.The ship became a tourist attraction.
The ship became a tourist attraction.

Describing the 1985 conditions, he said: "It was high winds. They must have been force 9. The waves were over 30ft high, there was white water, rain and sleet."

For two to three hours, Ralph stayed there in case matters got worse. If they did, he would have had to have phoned for more help.

But it never became necessary and one overriding memory was the incredible efforts of everyone who came to the Anne’s aid, said Ralph.

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A lifeboat and helicopter were on the scene and performed heroics.

"Everyone involved should have got a medal, " said Ralph.

He remembered how the helicopter was kept perfectly steady in the storm force conditions. "The pilot displayed great skill in hovering 30ft above the boat."

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.

Tees Towing was called in to run the salvage operation but, despite their expertise, attempts to re-float Anne on November 13 proved problematic.

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Further attempts using 10ins thick wire also failed to shift the Anne, which suffered further damage to her hull during the failed rescue.

"The salvage team stayed on board throughout the night, working round the clock to plug leaking holes in the ship’s side, " reported the Mail.

Finally, after repairs had been made and the coke for Steetley Magnesite unloaded, Anne was eventually refloated at high tide on November 27.

Even then, its misfortune continued - when she developed a gaping hole in her side while still two miles from dry dock at Sunderland.

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Anne eventually returned to Holland the following month, and paid a far more routine visit to Hartlepool in 1992 after being sold and renamed The Dina Jacoba.

But what are your memories of the ship that stayed at Seaton Carew? Did you go to see her?

Were you one of the Jesmond Road Schoolchildren who made a card for the captain? Did you take photos or cine footage of the dramatic scenes?

We would love to hear from you. Get in touch and share your memories by emailing [email protected]

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