Tea Clipper "Halloween" 1887

N50 13.295 W3 49.718

The image above shows the Halloween & Wesmorland wrecks seen from a drone

The Halloween at anchor off Graves end. Paddle steamer Restless in the forground .

This iron fully rigged Tea Clipper was built by Son & Field at Greenwich for John “Jock” “White Hat” Willis, and was a sister ship to Blackadder. She was 216.6 ft long with a beam of 35.2 ft and a depth of 20.5 Ft. Willis had had the “Cutty Sark” built earlier and used  the same specifications for these two ships.  All these ships were built along the lines of his even earlier ship the “Tweed” .Although sister ships the Halloween appears to have been built to far better standard and Blackadder had a reputation of being an “unlucky ship” as the main and mizzen masts broke on her maiden voyage and she had to call into Cape town for repairs . Despite this the Balckadder lasted eighteen years longer than her sister ship before being lost off Salvador. On her maiden voyage to Sydney , the Halloween she took only 69 days, and she held the Shanghai to London record with an amazing 89 days, which made her one of the fastest ships afloat. On the 17th January 1887 she was on route from Foochow in China to London with 1600 tons of tea. Captain Donton had left China on 13th August and met bad weather for most of the journey and it took 155 days before the Eddystone lighthouse was seen. In very large seas and in the dark,  her course took here north until finally she hit the Ham Stone rocks off Soar Mill cove at 7:30 in the evening.   Second mate MacLean and Johann Wingel managed to swim ashore with a line that was lost and a third member of the crew, Gustav Linchfield, drowned in the attempt. The two men climbed the cliffs to southdown farm to get help and raise the alarm with the coastguard who had not been manning the nearby coastguard station at the time. By the time the Hope Cove lifeboat reached them at 10:00 am the next day, the majority of the crew were near to death, found frozen to the masts and rigging but despite this all 19 were successfully recovered by the lifeboat..   A inquest was held at Lower Sewer Farm where the crew criticised the coastguard for not effectively getting a line to the boat from the shore earlier.

The jury agreed that the death of Gustav was accidental.   Unfortunately John Willis had not insured the £40,000 worth of tea on board, most of which spilled out into the cove. It was mostly salvaged and taken by steamer to London.  

Today the wreck of the Halloween lies   in 10m of water. Her remains cover and uncover during the various winter storms and her ribs stood two metres off the seabed. In 2014 she was all under the sand.

Some of the journeys of the Tea Clipper Halloween

1870 June 4


Launched at the shipyard of Maudslay, Son & Field, London, for John Willis & Son, London.


Numerous lawsuits delayed the delivery to her owner for more than a year


Sailed from London to Sydney in 69 days on her maiden voyage.

1873 November 17 – February 17

Sailed Shanghai-London with tea in 92 days. Captain J. Watt.

1874 October 21 – January 20

Sailed Shanghai-London with tea in the record time of 91 days.

1865 November 23 – February 24

Sailed Woosung-London with tea in 92 days.

1876 March 11 – June 24

Sailed London-Shanghai with tea in 105 days, 96 days from Lizard Point. Captain Fowler

1876 November 13 – February 23

Sailed Woosung-London with tea in 102 days.

1878 January 7 – April 16

Sailed Woosung-London with tea in 97 days.

1887 January 17 7:30pm

Wrecked at Sewer Mill Cove, South Devon. Captain Donton en route to London from Foochow

See more information and a video below of the wreck in taken in 2006 at: http://www.submerged.co.uk/halloween.php  

 Her sister ship has survived the ravages of the sea much better and a sketch of the site is shown below. courtesy of diver  Rodrigo Maia-Nogueira