Lalla Rookh 1873

N50 12.435 W3 43.793

The Lalla Rookh was a square-rigged tea clipper and was homeward bound to London from Shanghai with 1300 tons of tea and 60 tons of tobacco. She met her fate  on 3rd March 1873 when she struck Gammon Head in a South Westerly gale and fog. The gale blew her round into ‘Elender’ cove where she lay under the sand today. She had 19 people , including  Captain Fullertonon, on board and most got ashore either by jumping onto the rocks or using the breaches buoy which had been deployed by a rocket from Prawle coastguards. Two other people , Thomas Groves and a stowaway  , were unlucky and had drowned, the mate trying to launch a lifeboat and the stowaway presumably hidden in his bunk. There were three Lalla Rookh’s operating at this time and many other ships in the 1800’s had this name making research difficult. This particular Lalla Rookh was built in 1856.

Within a couple of weeks the ship had broken up and some of its cargo recovered however the people of Slapton sands got a present when some of the wreckage and cargo of tea and tobacco was washed up onto the beach. One piece of wreckage, her figurehead ,was washed up on a beach in Jersey and can now been viewed on the ‘Cutty Sark’ in Greenwich.

Above is a photo of  the Lalla Rookh figurehead on display in the Cutty Sark Museum at:

Today the remains of the wreck lie in Elender cove beneath the sand. Unfortunately the cove is used by boaters who discard their rubbish overboard littering the seabed with bottles and cans. The wreck is spread over a wide area from 2 to 10m and during southerly storms some evidence that it was a tea clipper are brought to the surface of the sand.
Below – Some items recovered from the wreck Photo Steve Clarkson