History of the Shipwreck on Rhossili Beach, South Wales

Standard

When I was living in the Swansea Valley, one of my favourite walks was the 3 mile length of Rhossili Beach, on the Gower Coast.  The remains of the shipwreck are often submerged by water, but when the tide is out they are a reminder of the dangers that often occurred during the days when wooden ships sailed the seas.  

The Gower Coast, just a few miles outside of Swansea, is a very popular tourist area, and I’m sure some of my readers will have visited it.  I have never heard the full story of the shipwreck so when I found this article on Wales Online,  I thought you may like to read it too!

0_JMP_SWA_010818_Helvetia_shipwreck__025JPG

Almost completely submerged in the heavy wet sand, the rotting timbers of the Helvetia shipwreck rise out of a Gower beach like ribs from an unknown animal.

Helvetia was once a proud ship: her sails billowing as she scudded across the Atlantic Ocean and her deck a hubbub of activity as sailors shouted to each other in the winds.

Now all that remains is a carcass, visible only at low tide, as the ever-hungry sea tries to reclaim her timbers to the deep blue.

The remains of the Helvetia, a Norwegian oak barque, have become a landmark of Rhossili, attracting photographers from all over keen to catch a glimpse of the relic from a bygone era.

(Image: South Wales Evening Post)

Standing high on the cliffs looking down on the bay, the shipwreck is the only thing that punctuates the golden sands, which stretch for three miles into the distance.

But what is her story, and how did a ship, originally from Horten in Norway, come to rest on Welsh sand?

Stormy seas

On a stormy evening on October 31, in 1887, the Helvetia arrived off the coast at Mumbles.

Captained by a man named Stevenson, she had sailed from Cambeltown, New Brunswick on the east coast of Canada, loaded with 500 tonnes of timber and bound for Swansea Harbour.

According to the late Ron Tovey, in his “Chronology of Bristol Channel shipwrecks”, the crew were five miles from her final destination, where Stevenson ordered for “signals to be burnt” to guide them into the harbour.

But a “fresh breeze” sprang up from the South East, forcing the crew to stay where they were for that night.

Abandon ship

By the next morning, the winds had grown stronger, blowing the oak-constructed barque of the Helvetia down the Bristol Channel.

Disaster struck as she hit the dangerous sandbank of Helwick Sands, a good 10 miles away from the harbour.

With the next turbulent swell, she escaped the shallow waters, but was swept around Worm’s Head and into Rhossili Bay.

Stephenson took the decision to drop anchor here and was taken ashore by the coastguard.

He refused to abandon his ship altogether, fearing looters might try to strip her of her cargo. He ordered his crew to stay aboard the barque for the night.

But by nightfall, as the incessant wind reached galeforce, the Helvetia could not be stayed and her anchor was ripped free from the sand.

(Image: South Wales Evening Post)

As she strayed perilously close to the expansive sands of Rhossili beach, the decision was reluctantly made to abandon the ship.

Shipwreck

The next morning, when Stephenson and his crew returned to the beach, they discovered the tortured wreck of their ship.

She had come to rest upon the sands, the remains of her wooden cargo scattered all around her on the beach.

During the following weeks, the timber was collected from the beach and gathered for auction sale.

South Wales timber merchants bought it at a bargain price, planning to take it off Rhossili by ship in the summer months.

The wreck was sold cheaply to a local man, who intended to strip the precious copper keel from the vessel.

But before he got the chance, the Helvetia had already sunk into the sand. Local rumour suggests he had to settle for salvaging the ship’s deckboards, which he used for the floor in his kitchen.

(Image: South Wales Evening Post)
(Image: South Wales Evening Post)

Anna Stevens, who lives in Llangennith and works at the King’s Head Hotel, has collected a whole file of information on the Helvetia.

“I started to research the history of the King’s Head, and that’s when I came across the stories about the Helvetia shipwreck,” she said.

“I have never heard about whether wood from the Helvetia did ever end up in the local buildings. I don’t know if that is merely rumour or local hearsay.

“I do know that wood from another shipwreck, the infamous Dollar Ship, was used when that ran aground off the Llangennith coast. The spoils were used to build Dollar’s Cottage, a small cottage in the village.”

Unceremoniously stripped of anything that had any value, the Helvetia has lain on Rhossili ever since.

A tragic sequel

In the springtime after the disaster, a steamboat from Llanelli called The Cambria was used to retrieve the timber.

A big ocean swell, combined with low tides, almost caused the boat to capsize. Only escaping certain wreckage with help from the coastguard, The Cambria lost her anchor which was dragged back over the sands to the corner of the bay at low tide.

Returning some months later to retrieve the lost anchor, The Cambria’s master, John Hopkins, sent a boat ashore with some day-tripping landlubbers.

After spending the day at ‘The Ship Inn’, they finally retrieved the anchor.

Unfortunately, the weight of it, accompanied by the weight of the six rescuers, proved too much for the boat. It capsized and all six men were thrown into the ocean. Only one of the men made it to the shore alive.

The shifting sands and relentless tides on Rhossili Beach still do their utmost to reclaim The Helvetia.

One day, she won’t be there.

But as long as her prow continues to rise high and proud out of the sand, she will always attract photographers from far and wide.

List of Craft Shows & Events in UK

Standard

A few years ago I put together a list of events for Crafters on this blog under the tab of craft events, but unfortunately it was too complicated to keep it up, altho you can  still find the old dates and click on the links to see the current dates etc.

There does seem to be a lot going on this year, and so I have copied the listings from two different sources – hence the change of style half way down! – so do have a look and see if there is something that catches your fancy.

UK CRAFT SHOWS & EVENTS

Take a look at the fantastic range of events taking place from August to November
The British Wool Show 2018 
Whatever your chosen craft there will be exciting treasures for you to discover as you explore the stands at the show.
York Auction Centre, Murton Lane, Murton, York
YO19 5GF
10th – 11th August 2018
Click here for more information
Festival of Quilts
Visit Europe’s leading quilt show where you can view over 1,000 amazing quilts as well as stocking up on fabric and other quilting suppliers from the 300+ exhibitors.
NEC, Birmingham
9th – 12th August 2018
Click here for more information
Henley Handmade Fair
Explore marquees and outdoor markets filled with handmade jewellery, homewares, clothing and more – all lovingly created by specialist Craftspeople.
Stonor Park Henley on Thames RG9 6HF Oxfordshire
24th – 27th August 2018
Click here for more information
Southern Wool Show
Visit wonderful stands selling a wide range of products, workshops and free demonstrations allowing people to share their passion and skills for woolly arts and crafts.
Newby Racecourse, Newby, RG14 7PN
1st September 10am to 4pm
Click here for more information
Great Northern Needlecraft & Quilt Show
Patchwork and quilting exhibition and needlecraft with trade stands selling all items within the needlecraft trade.
The Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, HG2 8QZ
31st August – 2nd September 2018
Click here for more information
The Creative Craft Show
Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts is where you’ll discover ideas, inspiration and all the supplies you could ever dream of! Discover new products and innovations, watch demonstrations and take part in workshops.
EventCity, Manchester, M41 7TB
6th – 8th September 2018
Click here for more information
Perth Festival of Yarn 2018 
Bringing together independent dyers, farmer, small-holders, knitters, spinners, felters and weavers
Dewars Centre, Glover St, Perth PH2 0TH
8th – 9th September 2018
Click here for more information
The Handmade Fair
The Handmade Fair is brought to you by Kirstie Allsopp and is all about appreciating the beauty of handmade, and learning the skills to become a maker yourself! |
The Green, Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, KT8 9BU
14th – 16th September 2018
Click here for more information

Cornish Yarn Festival

15 & 16 September 2018, 10am to 4pm St John’s Hall, Penzance

http://www.cyfonline.biz

Shetland Wool Week

22 – 30 September 2018

A busy week dedicated to celebrating Shetland wool and textile heritage.

Includes classes, talks, drop-ins, art. See website for the full events listing.

shetlandwoolweek.com

Masham Sheep Fair

The Wool Event, Masham Sheep Fair

Saturday 29 Sep and Sunday 30 Sep 2018, Masham Town Hall

Craft market and fleece stalls, specialising in British wool to compliment the sheep-related events that fill the square of Masham over the weekend.

http://www.mashamsheepfair.com

Yarndale

Yarndale

29 and 30 September 2018, Skipton Auction Mart, North Yorkshire

For you if you love yarn and are passionate about all things woolly. It aims to celebrate the beauty and diversity of wool, cotton, linen and silk fibres in all their forms.

yarndale.co.uk

Bakewell Wool Gathering

Bakewell Wool Gathering

Bakewell Agricultural Centre Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 October

An event for wool lovers in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales.

There will be exhibitors, demonstrations of fibre crafts and a fleece stand selling plenty of local fleece.

bakewellwool.co.uk/

West Wales Wool Show 2018

West Wales Wool Show 2018

Saturday October 6, Queen’s Hall and Plas Hyfryd Hotel, Narberth, Pembrokeshire

A celebration of all things woolly. From beautifully hand crafted items, clothing and footwear to knitting wool, fleece and all the equipment needed to make at home. Demonstrations run throughout the day with stall holders sharing their skills and knowledge with visitors plus wool skill workshops such as felting.

westwaleswoolshow.weebly.com

Kendal Wool Gathering

Kendal Wool Gathering

Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th of October

Kendal Wool Gathering mixes demonstrations, fun activities and displays, all connected to the cloth on which the town’s wealth was built.

Stands and stalls representing all aspects of commercial wool products, including carpets, looms, spinning wheels and crafts will be on display at a large unit at Kendal Leisure Centre. Outside there will be livestock, walks and talks. Linked fun events take place throughout the Kendal.

www.kendalwoolgathering.co.uk

Nottingham Yarn Expo

Nottingham Yarn Expo

Nottingham Conference Centre Goldsmith Street Entrance, Nottingham. NG1 4BU

Workshops Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 November. Market place Sunday 11 November

https://www.nottinghamyarnexpo.com

6″ (15.2 cm) strips of the full width of fabrics for quilting, versus fat quarters?

Standard

I started selling Art Gallery Fabrics, and other specialist designs, a couple of years ago, because they are so beautiful.  I don’t manage to get around to doing a lot of dressmaking these days, although at one time, I used to make most of my own clothes and hand sewn gifts for other people.  Some of the patterns I used are still in my sewing box, and occasionally I go thro’ them to sell on etsy, although finding them has got more difficult since I have moved!

Below are some of the more recent 100% cotton fabrics I have in stock, and there are some really lovely ones on back order, which I hope will arrive soon, and will put them up when they do.  I list some of these on etsy but I usually only show a small selection there.   To find the whole range of fabrics I currently stock, it’s best to go to my new website – this link will take you to the fabric category page.

I also plan to make some quilts one of these days, and have been collecting equipment and instructions, but altho’ I brought my old sewing machine with me, I never seem to have the time!  Things are rather chaotic here, as there is so little space to work in – until I can finally make a few changes to the layout of the cottage.

The width of these fabrics are usually 45″ (114 cm), but some of them are wider, and I always offer a per metre price, AND a price for a 6″ (15 cm) strip of the full width of the fabric.  This is a useful and cheap way to get a sample of the fabric – priced at around £2.50 – and is big enough to use for adding contrast fabrics to clothes, AND, to be used as squares, triangles etc, for quilting projects.

Oddly enough, I don’t get many orders for these 6″ strips!  Quilters are familiar with fat quarters of fabric – ie: a square quarter of a metre – or whatever shape folding a metre into 4 gives you.  I find this an uneconomical way to sell fabric, as you have to cut into the length of the fabric to provide the fat quarter, and may not sell the other 3 pieces, whereas, if you order a 6″ strip, I can cut the whole piece off from the whatever length of fabric I have, and we both get a good deal.

So I would be interested to know, from those of you that make quilts, or do general sewing and dressmaking, whether you think the 6″ strip is a good idea or not?

Dyeing with Dandelion Leaves – gives you Yellow!

Standard

Dandelions are normally treated as weeds, which have long tap roots and are difficult to get out of your lawn, if you prefer a perfect green, nicely mowed lawn.  But before you get rid of them, think again – they could be useful as a dye for wool!

rivillaRiihivilla is the name of a small business based in Helskinki, Finland, which specialises in hand dyeing, with plants and mushrooms – and I was interested to find this post thro’  hand-spinning-news.com.  The original blog post, written in Finnish and English can be found here.

If you haven’t used natural dyes before, this will give you an idea of what is involved, but there are simpler ‘recipes’ for all kinds of flowers, leaves, and even wood!  It’s a fascinating subject and if you want to discover more about what colours you can get, there is more information on the Riihivilla blog, and there are many books on the subject.

KUVA4564

I dyed with dandelion more than a week ago,(May 2018) when they were beginning to flower. Now they are still flowering. I collected a bucketful of leaves and flowers, mostly leaves though, and they weighted 1,9kg.
I simmered them for an hour (with added some washing soda) and let the bath cool until the next day. Bath was dark reddish/brownish yellow.
After straining off the bath I dyed 100g of yarn in it, mordanted with alum and CoT. I thought that it is better to put too little yarn in it rather than too much. The colour became very nice lemon yellow, a bit like you would get from a weld bath. To a yarn with no mordant the colour didn’t take hardly at all. I found from Liber Herbarum pages that dandelion contains many flavonoids which also act as dyes, including luteolin, which is the same dye as is also in weld, so it was no wonder that the colour I got is similar to weld colour.
I don’t know if I’m happy or not that there are not that many dandelions in the garden: they can be an awful weed in a flowerbed but on the other hand they could be used for dyeing!

Young dandelion leaves can also be used in salads, and I’m told that beekeepers rate the early season dandelion honey as the best there is!

 

 

Kantha – Vintage Quilts – recycling fabrics the time honoured way

Standard

unnamed

I hadn’t known anything about the history of quilt making with recycled fabrics in India, until I chanced on an advert for an exhibition of KANTHA textiles at the Mingei International Museum, California, last September.

see https://julzcrafts.com/2017/09/06/kantha-exhibition-of-textiles-of-bengal/.

“Kantha is a term used across the Indian sub-continent to denote decorative stitched quilting. In Gujarat, hangings patterned with concentric circles or squares in running stitch are known as kanthas, while in Bengal, kanthas are stitched for a variety of purposes, such as winter quilts, covers and wraps for books and valuables or as mats for ceremonial purposes.

They are most often given to daughters on the occasion of their marriage, as a token of love, or as a gift for a new-born child or grown son. They are often, as tradition has it, made up of old cast off saris or dhotis. They can be the work of two or more generations of women and are treasured as family heirlooms.”

You can also find out more about Kantha HERE

fullsizeoutput_34bOne of the people who saw the post was Manish, who was doing research on this ancient tradition, and he has recently set up a small business to collect and recycle old quilts, and to make new ones for sale worldwide.

He asked if I could give his website a mention, and sent me a bit more information about Kantha.  So I checked him out!  I have edited his contribution to fit the style of this blog – which is ‘to inspire and educate’ my readers – and myself! – in various aspects of crafts, whether you make anything yourself – or just appreciate!

346b8fe0-9b73-4773-aafe-b106e31df5d0

PHOTO-2018-05-17-17-32-33” The term ‘Kantha’ can be understood in Sanskrit as ‘rags’.

 

The origin of Kantha can be dated back to the age of Vedic period, which has a profound background in India. Chaitanya Charitamrita is a very popular age old book written by Krishnadas Kaviraj, some 500 years ago. The recurring patterns, designs and other beautiful elements are most celebrated part, which the book talks about.

The historic art and motifs are incorporated in modern works with the depiction of nature, sun, trees, people, culture and many more through the finest play of thread over a piece of cloth.

In the region of West Bengal, Kantha is seen as a very auspicious symbol in weddings and birth ceremonies.

Being a Bengali man, I never really got an opportunity to peek inside and know more about this form of art, which is being transferred from generation to generation. 

When I was a kid, I saw my grandmother would sit with a piece of cloth in her lap and different colours of thread lying all around her. She used to be very keen and generous with her work. She would move her hands very slowly and firmly with a needle and thread across the cloth and a very beautiful design would come up. 

The clothes on which she used to weave would tell stories of trees, people, lakes and animals.

vintage kantha quilt by makkiWhen I moved to eastern Bengal, I saw old and young women still so engrossed in the stitching kantha handkerchiefs, quilts and bed sheets. I was mesmerized by the beauty in their eyes and the passion in their attitude while they were busy doing the embroidery.

I was so inspired and motivated to continue this tradition in other parts of India that I started my own business, selling Kantha quilts and, hopefully creating a world class platform for customers from every corner of the world to know more about India, its tradition and history of India, through the quilts.

vintagekanthaquiltThe Kantha quilts have been made with finest threads, and will last long longer than your life, so that you can pass down this historical piece to many upcoming generations. India is best reflected within the dimensions of quilt.”

He tells me that the “quilts are made in West Bengal by artisans, and they are paid fairly”.

Do have a look at his site – vintagekanthaquilt.com – the prices are reasonable and he is currently running a special discount offer.

NB:  I do not normally ‘advertise’ other businesses on this site, but he asked nicely – smile – and I like what he is doing.  No fee has been charged and I have no other knowledge of how he works, and do not take any responsibility for the quality of the products.

%d bloggers like this: