HAPPY HARRY Sept 1950

I am indebted to a number of people for the excellent photos that follow, they include :

  • Sidney Allinson - Photos taken on either Leica 35mm or an Agfa Isolette 2x4 format
  • Jean Gidman for the excellent photo of the Happy Harry on the stocks at Milliom just prior to launching.
  • Phil Routledge for the photos of preparing the charges prior to blowing her apart

    Many older Southport residents will remember the Happy Harry, it was wrecked on the 15th September 1950 after colliding with and damaging the pier.

    She was a wooden three-masted schooner built by the Duddon Shipbuilding Company at Millom, for the Duddon Shipping Association, at a cost of 2560 and was launched on the 5th July 1894 in her early years she operated in the Duddon iron ore trade under masters from Amlwch.

    She was sold to Job Tyrell of Arklow in March 1921, and was later owned by Roy Kearon of Arklow. She had a motor fitted in about 1933, and survived the war years to become one of the last trading schooners operating in British and Irish waters. She met her end at Southport after grounding on Taylor's Bank in the Mersey her crew after firing flares, were rescued by the local lifeboat.

    The schooner then floated on the tide and was re-boarded and sailed to Southport. She anchored off the pier, but dragged her anchor and crashed into the pier, sustaining irreparable damage. She also caused minor damage to the pier itself. J Routledge & Sons, a Liverpool firm of ship dismantlers, were asked by the Southport Corporation to remove the vessel from the pier and dismantle her on the beach. The first part of this operation was to remove her from the where she lay against the South side of the pier and Phil Routledge described this procedure to me when I met with him in early 2006.

    The first part of the salvage was to drag the vessel from where she lay and 3 land anchors were put down some distance from the pier to the South. The next job was to slowly winch the vessel to a safe distance from the pier and then dismantle as much as possible before burning the remaining hull.

    This was found to be difficult as the vessel was being washed daily by the tides and it was decided to blow several holes in her to allow the vessel to burn easier, and the attached photos show the Routledge brothers preparing the charges prior to placing them aboard. After this was completed on the job of pulling the vessel apart was made much easier and she was dismantled on the beach and what was left was carted away by the contractors.

    The Happy Harry had previously made the news in the Liverpool Mercury, of January 5th, 1907 :

    A sudden death occurred in Ramsey Harbour, I.O.M. The schooner HAPPY HARRY of Duddon left Greenock on Saturday bound for Duddon but put into Ramsey Harbour owing to head winds. Capt John WILLIAMS was in charge and after a short time on shore went back on board at 4pm.

    At 5.30pm the mate went below and found the Capt on his knees on his bunk in a fit. Dr BARBOUR pronounced him dead from heart failure. The deceased was 72 and belonged to Amlwch Anglesey.

    So rather sadly the Happy Harry which had served her various owners for 56 years finally ended her days being dismantled and burnt on Southport beach.

    There are few advantages to getting old but one of them appears to be the ability to recally events from your childhood that have been long forgotton !

    One such event surrounds the Happy Harry, in that whilst researching this wreck I remembered a 16mm cine film that I had been shown to me by my Grandfather in the late 1950's which had shown the Happy Harry just after she was wrecked. It is strange how the mind works but my uncle could not recall the event or ever having seen this film, taken by his father, but my memory was telling me different.

    I then asked my uncle if my Grandfathers films had survived and he confirmed that he had retained the films, which were in good condition, so we decided to view the film.

    You can imagine my delight when a phone call from my uncle revealed that he had found the footage and there was 3-4 mins of good quality 16mm cine film of her !



    If you have any information on the wrecks off the Southport beach please e-mail me

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    Happy Harry off Southport showing a DUWK on the right
    Photo:Sidney Allinson
    Showing the vessel beached against the pier attracting many onlookers.
    Photo:Botanic Garden Museum
    Happy Harry lying along the Southport Pier with J R Routledge's
    ex Army waggon waiting to take the scrap away
    Photo:Sidney Allinson
    Happy Harry lying along the Southport Pier with
    a DUWK waiting to take scrap off her.
    Photo:Sidney Allinson
    Damage to the bows caused when she hit the Southport Pier
    Photo:Sidney Allinson
    The burnt remains of the Happy Harry, a sad end to a fine sailing ship
    Photo:Sidney Allinson