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ANSWERED on Mon 27 Oct 2014 - 8:23 pm UTC by Daniel Kniffler

Question: Ship sinking, North Yorkshire coast, 1969/70

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 27 Oct 2014 11:02 UTCMon 27 Oct 2014 - 11:02 am UTC 

A merchant ship sank sometime around Christmas 1969 somewhere off the North Yorkshire coast. I remember it as being around Christmas but it was a long time ago, so tight search parameters might miss it. At a wild guess, 06/69 - 06/70 probably DOES contain the event.

There was loss of life. Certainly one: John Vickers, who was I think the (or a) engineer. All else I can remember is that it may have been all hands, and it was not a large number, probably fewer than 10. I'm thinking 3-6 but I have no evidence for this.

Relatives were taken to the coast for some sort of memorial event. Middlesbrough (Teesside) may have been the nearest port.

John Vickers was Dutch or half-Dutch, so on reflection I am not sure what his first name really was. He was certainly known as John but I suppose he could have been something similar in Dutch, or another name entirely. His widow, Gerarda Hubertina Maria Vickers, known as Mia Vickers, died in Bristol on 07/01/2006.

I would like the name of the ship, please, and the date of the accident, along with any more information on the sinking that is available. Confirmation that John Vickers was on board would be good, as would be his role and his real name if it was not John. An account of the mourners visiting the coast would be interesting too.




 27 Oct 2014 11:03 UTCMon 27 Oct 2014 - 11:03 am UTC 

Am I asking too much for $50 here??


David Sarokin 


 27 Oct 2014 13:28 UTCMon 27 Oct 2014 - 1:28 pm UTC 


I haven't yet found any reports that exactly match your description.

Here is one possibility, though:


The Mary Joy went down 11/28/1968 off the River Tees, but it's not clear who was on board or if there were casualties.

You can see other wrecks near Yorkshire here (assuming the link works!):


Let me know if any of this information seems plausible. With a focus on an individual wreck, I can try to dig a bit deeper.


P.S. You can also modify the search parameters at Wrecksite.eu to search other time periods and geographic areas.




 27 Oct 2014 14:58 UTCMon 27 Oct 2014 - 2:58 pm UTC 

Thanks David for having a look. My feeling is that November 1968 would be a bit too early, BUT these are hazy memories and I am trying to check with others. Mary Joy is described as a small fishing boat and my recollection was that John Vickers was an engineer on something a little larger, perhaps some kind of coastal cargo vessel. Sadly I couldn't pick up your session-specific search - are you perhaps a member of that site?

I'll see if I can dig out a bit more to add to this, but inevitably information may be getting a little thin now.


David Sarokin 


 27 Oct 2014 17:38 UTCMon 27 Oct 2014 - 5:38 pm UTC 

I'm leaving town for a bit of a trip, so I'll unlock this, in hopes that another researcher can add some insights.

Best of luck.



Daniel Kniffler 


 27 Oct 2014 20:23 UTCMon 27 Oct 2014 - 8:23 pm UTC 

Hi nevilley,

The ship in question was indeed a coastal cargo vessel, the Burns & Laird ship Lairdsfield. She went down on February 7th, 1970, just outside the mouth of the Tees.

The fullest account of the sinking comes from the summary wreck report produced by the formal investigation into the incident. It can be viewed here: http://www.plimsoll.org/resources/SCCLibraries/WreckReports2002/20847.asp

The Times article the next day had some info on the rescue efforts.
The Times (London, England), Saturday, Feb 07, 1970; pg. 1; Issue 57788

The investigation report includes a reference to "Mr. J. H. Vickers, Chief Engineer of Lairdsfield", and this is supported by an article in the Times that has him as "Chief engineer John Vickers, of Byron Place, Bristol".
The Times (London, England), Monday, Feb 09, 1970; pg. 2; Issue 57789.

Other than the investigation hearings, I can't find any reference to a memorial event - but there may be something in a Middlesbrough paper in other archives. There certainly was a collection taken for dependants of the men who died.

"A disaster fund has been started by the International Marine Association and the Nation Union of Seamen for the relatives of the 10 men who died on Friday when the Scottish coaster Lairdsfield capsized and sank off the mouth of the river Tees. Nearly 100 dockers at Middlesbrough are to give a day's pay."

And finally, here's a picture of the Lairdsfield on a better day: http://oi61.tinypic.com/20shz4l.jpg
(Posted by Colin Campbell on a forum thread: http://clydeserver.com/shipping/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=5337 )

Hope that answers your question.

Best regards,





 27 Oct 2014 21:59 UTCMon 27 Oct 2014 - 9:59 pm UTC 

Thanks very much for this excellent answer, which removes all doubt. I thought I'd remember the vessel name, and was surprised that I don't, though it was a while ago.

If the name John Vickers didn't clinch it enough - and it does - then the address 12 Byron Place, a house well-known to my family, most certainly would.

It was interesting to see the newspaper reports too, thank you. I might have a go at the Evening Gazette archive to see if they have anything more, though the formal memorial may simply be an invention of my memory.

Thanks again for an exemplary piece of work.




 24 Mar 2017 22:18 UTCFri 24 Mar 2017 - 10:18 pm UTC 

It's way after the original question, but I should point out that she actually sank on Friday 6th February 1970. The Times piece is dated a couple of days after this, but the Board of Trade  report (see the Plimsoll.org link above) makes it very clear which day is correct.

Thanks and best wishes



Roger Browne 


 26 Mar 2017 03:09 UTCSun 26 Mar 2017 - 3:09 am UTC 

Thanks for the followup, Nevilley. The Times piece of February 9th refers to the coaster sinking "on Friday night", which again is the 6th.


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