Hartlepool students watched as 170 people were rescued from a blazing ship

The students return home after their dramatic cruise on SS Nevasa.
The students return home after their dramatic cruise on SS Nevasa.

Twenty school pupils from Hartlepool had the trip of a lifetime in 1968.

They were on a cruise to Scandinavia and Russia when there was drama on the high seas.

I saw the Blenheim before the fire really caught hold, but I missed most of the rescue because I was too ill to go on deck. The others told me everything that happened though, and I did see the helicopter that came to take our ship’s doctor to the rescue

Margaret Richardson, 1968

It would end up with the students from Henry Smith, Galley’s Field, St Joseph’s Convent, and King Oswy making the headlines.

They were all on board the SS Nevasa for an education trip and enjoying every minute of it on the first day.

But their journey was less than 24 hours old when a burning ship was sighted. It was the Norwegian mail boat the Blenheim and the Nevasa altered course and raced through the North Sea to help her.

The youngsters had a front seat view as they watched 89 passengers and 79 crew being rescued safely from the Blenheim.

It was quite an adventure and there was even more to come for one of the Hartlepool children. Margaret Richardson missed most of the rescue because she was below decks suffering from severe seasickness.

All she saw was a glimpse through a porthole. She said at the time: “I saw the Blenheim before the fire really caught hold, but I missed most of the rescue because I was too ill to go on deck.

“The others told me everything that happened though, and I did see the helicopter that came to take our ship’s doctor to the rescue.”

But Margaret’s drama still wasn’t over. During a visit to Copenhagen, she tripped on a tiny ledge and broke a toe.

Who remembers the cruise?

Contact Chris Cordner by emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk