The ship tragedy which hit Hartlepool families hard

The ship, as pictured in our report on the tragedy in 1979.
The ship, as pictured in our report on the tragedy in 1979.

It’s 110 years since a ship with tragic links to Hartlepool first took to the water.

Yet just 28 years after her launch, the SS Millpool was sinking, and her final moments were recorded in messages sent on her radio.

She was never recovered, and families in Hartlepool were among those who lost loved ones among the 26-strong crew.

The last messages of the SS Millpool were dramatic.

“After-hatch stoved in ... main topmast gone ... three men injured ... driving helplessly before the gale ... using temporary radio aerial.”

The 4,218-ton steamer was in its final throes amid hurricane conditions on a journey between Danzig and Montreal in the North Atlantic.

There were several ships in the area at the time and they reported waves which were like mountains because they were so high.

Tragedy struck on October 3, 1934.

It was a sad end for a 370ft-long steamer built by Ropner & Sons at Stockton for the Pool Shipping Company of West Hartlepool and launched in 1906.

This was a story of tragedy yet mixed with a tale of good fortune for JW Storey, who took ill in Danzig and was left behind in hospital.

Yet for many others, there was only grief.

The story had begun to unfold two days before tragedy struck. The Millpool reported she was taking on water, from a leak which could not be traced.

Then came the SOS, which was picked up by the American freighter Black Gull and passed on to the Mackay Radio Company.

Two vessels, the Cunard White Star Ascania and the Canadian Pacific Beaver Hill, went to the aid of the Millpool.

But it was all in vain and the ship was lost about 700 miles off the coast of Labrador.

She sank without trace on a journey which was supposed to have seen her carry rye to Montreal. All hands were lost.

The last position given was latitude 53-30 North; Longitude 37-10 West.

Eighteen local men were among the crew, including Captain Arthur Newton.

Then there was first mate R Sargant, third mate C Lowe, and first engineer TG Nesbitt.

Others included TM Bell, third engineer; E Braithwaite, fourth engineer; J Moor, boatswain; JR Eke, W Walters, H Cooke, E Horst, F Sparrow, A Robson (all seamen).

The local contingent was completed by J Kelly, J Connor, T Connor (all firemen), R Lake (cook) and his son (galley boy).

The Millpool’s story was last told in 1979 where our reporter told how town family had “loved ones who had become the latest victims of the Cruel Sea”.