Programme 3

The Royal Charter - The Loss of the Royal Charter

The Loss of the Royal Charter
Royal Charter's Welsh passengers and crew
The Royal Charter's gold
Poetry lamenting the loss of the Royal Charter
Other reports from around Wales
  • Picture
  • Contemporary Newspaper Headline

The Royal Charter was a 719 ton luxury steamship, on the last leg of its 16,000 mile journey from Australia to Liverpool in late October 1859 when the storm struck.

The captain of the ship was Thomas Taylor, a competent and experienced seaman, who had dealt calmly with all the dangers that the sea had thrown at him during the 60-day voyage from Melbourne. Captain Taylor had boasted to his first-class passengers that he would have them in Liverpool that evening, Tuesday 25th October, but the ferocity of the gale took him by surprise. Having reached as far as Llandudno, the ship was driven back by the Force 10 gales from the east, and by 8pm, when Owen Williams from Caernarfon took the wheel, the ship was in serious trouble. Within an hour the wind was up to force 12 - over 75 mph - and the ship was being pushed backwards. The anchors were dropped at 11pm, but after two and a half hours one of the cables snapped, followed by the other cable an hour later. The ship then raced to its inevitable fate on the rocks of Anglesey's north-eastern shore.

Of the 371 passengers there were 21 survivors; 18 of the 112 crew survived. 140 of the victims were buried in Llanallgo churchyard and 45 at Penrhoslligwy, and others were laid to rest in another seven graveyards around the island.

Hanes Cymru a'r Môr

9:00PM Tuesday
Repeated on S4C Digidol 9:00PM Saturday
with English Subtitles