The Fate of the “Ceres”

Taken from an article in the Bideford Weekly Gazette dated December 1st.1936. 


The 125 years old “Ceres”, veteran of the merchant service, her course now run, lies at the bottom of Bideford Bay, somewhere off Baggy Point.

The “Ceres” sprang a leak on Tuesday night while on a voyage from South Wales to Bude, and foundered after her crew had put off in her boat and had been picked up by the Appledore lifeboat.The Captain is Mr Oswald Jeffery, a married man, whose home is in Richmond Road, Appledore, and the mate Mr Walter Ford, a married man of Irsha Street,, Appledore.They reached Appledore in the lifeboat at about 11 o’clock, and on arrival the Rev Muller offered a short prayer of thanksgiving for their safety.

Captain Jeffery said,” We left Swansea on Tuesday bound for Bude with a cargo of slag.. Because of the weather we intended to go in over the Bar for the night as it was to rough to venture on to Bude. At 8 o’clock I went below to rest for an hour, leaving the mate in charge. An hour later he told me there was water in the engine room. We manned the pumps. We tried to get the ship over the Bar, but the water made her roll badly, and I gave the order for the ship’s rowing boat to be launched. I fired two rockets, and we abandoned the vessel. We lay in the shelter of the “Ceres” which was sinking, and were taken onboard the lifeboat.

Dr. Valentine stood by in case medical assistance was needed, but although wet through, neither the captain nor his mate appeared any the worse for this ordeal.

The “Ceres” was owed by a Bude firm of coal merchants, and was built in Salcombe.  

 Ketch Ceres   1811 – 1936.

Built in Salcombe, Devon in 1811.She carried stores as a revitaling ship at the blockade of Brest during the Napoleonic wars. Was the oldest sea-going vessel afloat until she sank in Croyde Bay one November evening in 1936. My late father Walter Ford always maintained that she sank because the vessel had recently had a new timber set in, and this had swollen and had displaced the much older timbers which surrounded it.

The night she sank was flat calm and the sky clear.

This is one of a number of posts on the Ketch “Ceres”. They are presented in a random order as and when I have found, or been given, new material. If you are interested in maritime history and would like to read more, please use the Search facility on the top right-hand side if this page (‘Ceres’).  If the Search box does not appear on your current screen, then click on ‘Bill’s Boat Blog’ – (or the title of this entry, then ‘Bill’s Boat Blog’), to be taken to the correct page.

One thought on “The Fate of the “Ceres”

  1. This is a great read. I will be looking up more!
    Thank you. You can visit our blog for more on West coast maritime history, too.

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