MEMORY LANE: Hartlepool ship came to the help of stricken vessel

Amelia Jackson
Amelia Jackson

AMELIA Jackson’s husband Gordon spent many a year at sea.

But perhaps the most memorable adventure for this Horden lad was the day his ship was rescued in a typhoon 10,000 miles away in Australia.

That’s dramatic enough in itself, but what is more remarkable is the rescue was done by a ship from Hartlepool.

The crew of the 7,200 tonne vessel Stanfirth needed urgent help. She was disabled, powerless and her radio had stopped working.

To top it all off, her fuel bunkers were empty and any hopes of raising the alert were pretty much defunct.

It was in August 1951 that the drama happened.

Amelia remembered: “For my husband, it was the last trip that he would go on. He joined as a boy in 1944 and the trip they were going on was six months long.

“They had been chartered by the Australian government to carry phosphates and the rescue happened on that journey.”

Amelia said: “It had been quite a time for the crew. There was a typhoon. They had got so far down the coast and they were blown all the way back.

“They had no control over any of the ship’s workings.

“They had no refrigeration and had to throw all the food overboard.

“My husband used to say that, when they went to find something to eat, they found that all the labels had come off the cans of food, and there were only canned goods on board.”

It meant mealtimes made for an interesting and unexpected experience.

They were desperate times in torrential weather, and a hero was needed.

It was the 7,174-tonne Hartlepool vessel the Heronspool which overcame the odds and carried out a hero’s job.

Amelia got in touch with us when we first told the story of the rescue two months ago.

Amelia said: “Gordon did tell me that he thought it was strange that it was a Hartlepool ship which came to his rescue.

“They had been adrift for 10 days and it was the Heronspool which rescued the ship.”

The crew of the Stanfirth was out of the country for two years from the start of their voyage to the finish.

Amelia, originally from Blackhall and now from the Grange Road area of Hartlepool, and Gordon, who died aged 86 earlier this year, met when they were 15 and were married for 62 years.

Amelia added: “After he finished at sea, Gordon worked for Siemens, and was there for 32 years.

Amelia worked in Hartlepool for an opticians in Church Street, and Gordon was also in the air training corps.

Our thanks go to Amelia for providing us with some fantastic memories.

We would love to hear from more people who want to share their family history.

Get in touch by contacting Chris Cordner on (01429) 239377 or emailing