Shipwrecks around Cornwall

Cornwall’s rocky reefs lurking bebeath the ocean surface have taken many hundreds of ships and claimed thousands of lives over the years.

Torrey Canyon ran aground in 1967 - environmental disaster for Cornwall
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Torrey Canyon ran aground in 1967 – an environmental disaster for Cornwall.

Dangerous currents, changeable weather conditions and the narrow 21 mile route between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland have all led to Cornwall being regarded as Britain’s most dangerous coastline. The lack of navigational aids in the early years of shipping forced vessels to hug the coast in order to maintain knowledge of their position making it more likely to hit submerged rocks and reefs. Lighthouses, buoys and modern navigational equipment have since made Cornish waters safer although tragedies still occur  as more recent events have shown.

1967 Torrey Canyon
In 1967  the Torrey Canyon oil tanker with a 120,000 ton capacity ran aground between the Scilly’s and the Seven Stones reef – Cornwalls worst environmental disaster.

1963 Pendeen
The Liberty was wrecked duing a northwesterly gale.

1936 St Ives
US Steamer Bessemr City lost at St Ives with its cargo of tinned salmon and fruit – fed the locals for months!

1915 Killigeran Head near Portscatho
The Andromeda, a 4 mast steel sailing ship was swept onto rocks


1907 Maenheere Reef Lizard

White Star Liner 12,000 ton SS Suevic ran aground off the Lizard on the Maenheere Reef. Huge rescue operation from RNLI recovered everyone in open rowing boats.

1898 Manacles
Mohegan a luxury liner hit the rocks in good weather sinking in just 10 minutes losing 106 lives

1895 Manacles Lizard peninsula

The Andola, a 3 masted sailing ship ran aground. A lifeboat saved all 28 crew.

1894 Busby Cargo ship Trevose Head

1889 Cape Cornwall
Cunard Liner ‘Malta’ wrecked but all passengers saved by flotilla of boats who went on to salvage spirits, carpets, wine and beer.

1807 Loe Bar

HMS Anson Frigate was caught in bad weather and tried to return to Falmouth for safety but ran aground on Loe Bar with 100 drowned.

1751 Porthleven
A 300 ton vessel was wrecked near Porthleven and its cargo of wine, brandy and fruit was plundered.

1780 Gunwalloe

Spanish Galleon
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Every divers dream: a sunken Spanish Galleon.

Treasure ship carrying several tons of gold coins.