Ahoy there, I spy a crow's nest!

APOLOGIES for the main picture being once again a nautical subject, but it has only recently come to light and is just such a normal picture of a glimpse of our harbourside when it appeared to be alive.

Correcting myself, of course there is no sign of life in this view, but the potential is there to suggest there has been some and more is still likely to present itself, probably on the morrow!

Completely new to me, it is a copy of one of two such scenes on a stereoscope card which was kindly given to the museum. We have two viewers there and visitors could see this in 3D, and it certainly is attractive.

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What has been fascinating has been trying to sort out the scene.

The vessel (left) is the Brighton IV, 1903-1930.

I feel she is having her first re-fit after service during the Great War.

In the early stages she had been a hospital carrier and in those colourings she could look quite a dainty creature, but most of the time she was troop transporting in dark tones and camouflage.

In such guise she is recorded arriving at Dover after hostilities had ceased, with president Woodrow Wilson aboard after his visit to the Versailles peace conference and, of course, to inspect members of his forces.

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At this time the Brighton boasted a crow's nest well up her foremast. This is plainly seen on her here at Newhaven's marine workshops, where I imagine during working hours there would be much activity as she is prepared for return to the daily plod across to Dieppe.

She would have been the first turbine channel steamer, but for a fire at the Dumbarton yard of her builders, which delayed her completion, so she had to accept second place.

A dramatic collision in 1910 brought much despair the night of November 5.

She left here on the night service. Not only was it dark, but there were claims of mist patches too. When some miles out she collided with the 5,000 tonne German sailing vessel Preussen, the largest five-masted square sail rigged sailing ship ever built.

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Damage to both was considerable. This was before the days of radio, so Brighton had to return and report. Our tug Alert went out and towed Preussen to Dover, where she would have been dealt with.

After casting off, it was intended she would anchor, but chains for both anchors snapped as they were dropped and she continued on to rocks and became a total loss (she was on her way to South America).

Brighton was held to be responsible, her master was dismissed and lost his ticket and sadly shot himself in a London pub.

In 1930 Brighton was sold to Sir Walter Guinness (later Lord Moyne) and converted into the luxury yacht Roussalka and cruised as far as British Columbia in Canada.

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She returned to home waters and when off Galway in fog in August 1933 she struck rocks and sank.

Continuing with the photo, on the gridiron is the self-propelled dredger Neptune which I well remember.

Note on the quayside beyond a gathering of steam cranes; redundant?

This had been a busy quay for supplies to the Western front, for which purposes Newhaven had been a sealed port.

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Beyond the cranes is the hydraulic water tower and extreme right the start of 'A' shed, still there today.

Near, the steam hopper Trident, built for carrying the 100-ton hessian bags of dry concrete mix, for dropping at sea for foundations of the breakwater from 1879 on.


Peter Bailey is curator of the Newhaven Local and Maritime Museum based in its own fascinating premises in the grounds of Paradise Park in Avis Road, Newhaven. Winter opening hours are Saturdays and Sundays, 2-5pm or by arrangement. Admission 1 (accompanied children free). Contact the curator on 01273 514760. Log on to the website at www.newhavenmuseum.co.uk