Shipwreck at Redcar - the Death of David Baird 1925
Inspector's Office Redcar Nov 27th 1925
Dear Mrs Baird
As things have turned out I feel that I must write and express my sympathy with you in your sad trouble, as this tragedy has more than a passing interest for me. In case you have not heard many details of the wreck, or should you have heard conflicting accounts, perhaps you will appreciate the happenings from the police standpoint. I arrived on the seafront in the midst of a five minutes blizzard of hail at 2.20 pm. and no one could look seawards. I enquired where the ship was, and was told it was just over the rocks. The storm passed and I looked around, but could see no ship. Everyone was silent. There were hundreds of people about; then when the shock and surprise had passed , the men said she could have not got away,she had gone down. I should say it was 2.20 pm. when she sank. Fifteen minutes later, the bottom half mast and wreckage came ashore half a mile east of the wreck and at the other side of the pier. I was early there, but nothing of value was seen. I saw the customs Officer with some books. I am not sure, but I believe one was a large bible. I may be wrong. The boat, the wheel with two handles left, and a yard were ashore. P.C. 176 Gunn walked along eastward and about 3.15 p.m. saw the body and got it out. Coastguard Hobbs came along and the body was carried under the sandbanks. Artificial respiration was vigorously applied by the constable, coastguard, and another man in the remote hope that life remained, but after half an hour a doctor who had arrived pronounced life extinct. The body was clad in reefer, and the right foot had a sock on; no shoes nor lifebelt. I remember the thought that passed through my mind as I looked at him; an ordinary fisherman by the look of him, but probably some one's dear husband and father by the homemade clothing he wore. This was confirmed by the letters handed me by boys. Little did we know he had friends so near. The world is small after all. I can just imagine what a wonderful character your husband was. 69 years of age; I believe a hardworking hardy man, and brave beyond all expectation. To be out all the night previous was enough to kill many people with the thought of it. Two brave men who never ate what they did not earn, and earn dearly. What an example to many young ones of today. I trust that God will comfort you, and that you may find a silver lining to this present cloud of trouble, and that you may be happy with those that remain to you.
I am, madam
Yours in sympathy
W Bywater Inspector.
1856 - 1925
My thanks to David's great grandson, Steven, for permission to use this picture.
David Baird born 31st July 1856, was the son of David Sangster Baird and Jane Ann Pyper (b.1833 in Lonmay).
The 1881 census showed Davidís occupation as seaman and his address as 19 North Street. In 1891 David was absent. His wife Margaret, described as a seamanís wife, was living at 21 North Street with the coupleís two children, Jane aged 10 and David, 2.
Margaret died of acute tuberculosis on 31st August1891, shortly after the birth of a daughter Margaret (14th August).
David married Elsie Stewart, a domestic servant and fisherman's daughter in October 1894. It was Elsie who was the recipient of Inspector Bywater's letter. The couple had two more children, Elsie born in 1897 and John, born 1900, who died in infancy. In 1901 the family was still at 21 North Street and David was shown as the Captain on a Sloop. In later years they moved to Jamaica Street.
Ref: Lloyds newspaper for November 1925
British ketch unknown foundered off Redcar about 2.20 pm today. All hands presumed lost.
Small motor vessel struck rocks and broke up this afternoon.
Ships boat 'GRACE - YARMOUTH' washed ashore also one dead man.
Lifeboat launched, no further signs of crew.
GRACE. The ketch GRACE which was lost with all hands off Redcar on Tuesday(24th) morning, belonged to Peterhead.
She was manned by two men, both belonging to the Aberdeenshire port.
They were DAVID BAIRD (70) owner and skipper of the ketch and FORBES GIBSON (67)
The Grace left Peterhead in ballast for Amble.