View Full Version : The story of a Ship Wreck; the loss of the Garthpool, November 11th 1929

24-06-10, 19:07

I'm new to this forum; I wonder if anyone can help me.

I am researching the story of a ship wreck, the wrecking of the Garthpool on Armistice Day in 1929; all the crew survived and enjoyed a bit of an adventure on the islands for several weeks before being shipped home as 'Distressed British Seamen.' My great grandfather, Christopher Bedford Steel, (1907-1943), nick named 'Scuppers' by the crew, was a passenger/apprentice, on board for the experience of the voyage.

So far I have found a lot of articles, references in lots of books, and various documents from ancestry as well as many photos from several contacts.

As well as looking for any more detail about the whole story, from Boa Vista, where they spent a few rough days, to being wined and dined on Sao Vincente, in the town of Mindelo, to being shipped home as distressed British seamen on the steamships Avelona Star and Deseado, I am also looking into each of the crew members stories;
Who they were;
What they experienced; and
What became of them...

I have already got a good idea of several individuals stories (The Captain, passenger Peter Kerr Smiley, Apprentice Tom Oates, Stan Hugill, Shantyman, etc etc and of course my relative, 'Scuppers',) but I'm always discovering and learning more.

Here is a full list of the crew>> you never know, maybe one of your relatives is here;

David Thomson, 1866-1949, of Anstruther, Fife; Captain of the Garthpool 1926-29; AKA 'Old man' (I have been in contact with his grandson)

Thomas William Loades, 1860-1933, of Kingsbridge Devon; Chief Mate; an old shellback
(Still working on his tree/story)

Stanley Butcher, 1905-(not sure exactly when he died), of Hull; 2nd Mate;

Lester Newman, 1901-1977, not sure where from; 3rd Mate (I was in contact with a grandson of his)

William Chenoweth, 1884-?, of Aberdeen Scotland; Bo'sun (work in progress; he was on one of the Artic voyages in 'Scot's Discovery in about the 1900's I think)

Emile Louis, 1861-1940, of Mauritius; Cook; Nick named 'Doe' (was married to English woman Rose A (surname unknown); they had a son, born in Hong Kong in 1917, they lived in Liverpool, Emile died in Liverpool but I don't know what became of Rose...)

John Mcpherson, 1884-?, of Aberdeen; Shipwright/carpenter; nick name 'Chips' (I know very little about him)

Edward James Smith, 1912-?, of Port Adelaide; Sailmaker, nick name Sails; son of Walter Thomas Smith, lighthouse keeper of Point Lowly, Spencer Gulf, Australia circa1890's-1903
(There are some great clues here so I'm hopeful an Aussie relative may get in touch?)

Stanley James Hugill, 1906-1993, of Hoylake, Cheshire; A.B. & shantyman;

Christopher Bedford Steel, 1907-1943, of Farnborough, Hants; Passenger/Apprentice; nick named 'Scuppers' by the crew; I am his great grand daughter

Thomas Herbert Beveridge Oates, 1910-1941, b.South Africa, lived in Dover; Apprentice
(I have found some great details out about this romantic soul; he wrote at length to a sweet heart in the late 1930's, Elizabeth Eadie; I'd love to hear from Oates relatives; but he had no children)

Timothy James 'Toddy' O'Sullivan, 1907-after 1970, of Waterville, Co.Kerry, Ireland also lived in Co. Cork; Apprentice; went on to become a successful hotelier, running the Gresham in Dublin from the 1940's through the 1960's (I have been in contact with his grandson)

Robert G. B. Harrison, 1911-1942, of Newport, Mon, Wales; Apprentice; wife Enid Y Evans, (Some great clues/work in progress ((WIP)))

Henry Walsworth Kinney(2), 1910-1989, of Hawaii; Apprentice; son of HW Kinney, writer; His son is the 3rd HW Kinney, lawyer in New Orleans (I was in contact with his grandson; aiming to re connect)

Felix Rolph Mines, 1912-?, of Chesterton, Cambridge; Apprentice; emigrated to Australia
(I'm in contact with his niece)

William Norman Basson, 1912-1980, of Hemel Hempstead, Herts; Apprentice (WIP)

Edward Ernest Fenwick, 1914-?, of Hull; Apprentice (I have notes on his family tree; I know he ended up in Singapore by 1978, then Captain of the Rajah Brooke)

William Austin Willis, 1914-?, of Bangor, Co Down, Ireland; Apprentice (WIP)

George Collas Hocart, 1908-?, pf Guernsey, Channel Isles; Seaman (WIP)

Charles Dowman (possibley Charles Darby Allen Dowman); 1905-1997?; of Cork; Seaman; wife Rosemary (WIP)

James Alfred McBrearty, 1909-1977, of West Derby, Lanc; Seaman; later Captain and 'Cape Horner' (WIP)

Edward Vyvyan N Fuller, 1907-?, of Liskeard/lived at Withial Rectory House; Seaman; father Vicar of Withial early 20th century (WIP)

Charles McLelland, 1904-?, of Belfast; Seaman (I know very little)

Archibald McVeigh, 1907-1982, of Belfast; seaman (WIP)

Albert McMillan, 1887-?, of Argyle; seaman (Very little known)

William Joss, 1869-?, of Aberdeen; seaman (Very Little/WIP)

William Joseph Reeds, 1902-?, lived at Sailors Home Liverpool but I don't know where he was from; seaman (WIP)

Arthur Edward Pearson, 1908-?, of Hull; seaman; possibley one of the 'Hull Pilots' getting certificate (Also Fenwick/Allman possibley one of them Hull pilot too) (Great clues here...)

Charles Edward Allman, 1908-1972, of Sculcoates(I think born Hull); seaman (cluess....)

William Taylor, 1910-?, of Liverpool (grew up at 10 Neil Street); seaman (I am sketching his tree; he lived at 10 Neil Street, Liverpool with is family, who had lived there from at least 1911 or earlier through to 1929 and maybe onwards)

William McPherson Hutton, 1876-?, of Kinghorn, Fife, Scotland; Purser; enginner and later at 'Cape Horner' as he sailed on the Viking in 1934, kept a diary and wrote a book 'Cape Horn Passage' where he mentions runiting with fellow passenger, Pazolt...(No idea where he died but I don't think it was in the UK given his travels...great clues here...)

Peter Kerr Smiley, 1879-1943, born Paisley, Scotland but family Irish; Major in Boar War; MP for Antrim North circa 1908-1911; purser on Garthpool (I have met his grandson)

Alfred James Pazolt, 1876-1956, of Boston, USA; purser twice on Garthpool; Artist and wrote two articles on his Garthpool experiences (I have some great notes on Pazolts history but more most welcome)

Jean Gloro, 1898-?, French Canadian (not exactly sure); seaman; in Pazolt's account, 'the frenchman' or 'Frenchy' was a thief; Captain Thomson found some money and other things were mising and they caught the frenchman but he got away once and was chased and caught again; he appears seperately from the crew on the return voyage, I reckon he was in the brig or something like that...(Tricky one this; any French researchers help most appreciated)

Any information, help and advice would be most appreciated,


Take Care,

Bye for now,

Jessica S. Fox

Do email me at (I've written it out to avoid phising, scams, etc)

Email removed - please PM Jessica, or reply on this thread.


Janet in Yorkshire
25-06-10, 10:53
Can't help, but it sounds a fascinating project and I wish you much success, Jessica.


25-10-10, 01:59

Since the Summer of 2007, I have been looking into one particular story in more detail; the loss of the sailing ship Garthpool, which was wrecked on November the 11th, 1929, off the Cape Verde Islands.

All the crew survived and enjoyed a bit of an adventure for several weeks on the islands; amongst the crew was my great grandfather, Christopher Bedford Steel (1907-1943), aboard for the experience of the voyage.

Since October 2009, I have been working towards the first draft of a book; I have collected a lot of information, articles, archives and I have a growing extensive photo collection but there is always more to discover.

I am looking to discover the stories behind each of the 34 crewmen, which included old sea dogs in their 60's and young apprentices, some aged just 15; where did they come from, what were their experiences and ultimately what became of them?

I will be posting detailed specific threads in particular forums here soon.

I look forward to learning more; I am also still interested in the rest of my family tree so I may well have other enquiries too from time to time.

Elaine ..Spain
25-10-10, 07:04
Welcome to the forum, Jessica and good luck with your book.
Let's hope some of our members can help with any future queries you post.

Jill on the A272
25-10-10, 07:18
I thought this sounded familiar, you have posted about this before under a different user name


25-10-10, 08:40
I thought this sounded familiar, you have posted about this before under a different user name


Jessica must have forgotten that she had already posted this, so the threads have been merged.

25-10-10, 08:57
Jessica...as far as the Liverpool sailors connections ,you could try posting on www.yoliverpool.com (http://www.yoliverpool.com) join for free and look for the thread about "Liverpool Sailors" , and post your request on that thread....under maintenance at the moment so leave it for a day or so....good luck....allan
ADDED...re Emile Louis....when Alfred Thomas Louis was born in 1917 - Emile would have been 56....could he have been married before this ?
1888 Emile Louis to Grace Albans at West Derby register office or registrar attended....Liverpool..or...was Rose a nickname for Grace A
just a possibility for you to look at....

aha...look at this...same site www.lancashirebmd.org.uk

1909....Emile Louis to Rose Maye - West Derby register office /registrar attended....Liverpool
this looks like your Rose ?.....it may be possible he married twice ?...he would be 27 at the marriage to Grace ?
dec 1897 death for Grace Louis , West Derby , Liverpool....hope some of it fits your research....allan

25-10-10, 17:06

I have come across this thread before too on a Liverpool board.

You seem to have lots of information already but good luck with the search.


Christine in Herts
25-10-10, 17:09
William Chenoweth, 1884-?, of Aberdeen Scotland; Bo'sun (work in progress; he was on one of the Artic voyages in 'Scot's Discovery in about the 1900's I think)

With that family name, even though he came from Aberdeen, you are most likely to find connections in Cornwall, I would expect. If you look at the birth registrations for that surname, a very high proportion are in Cornwall, with the odd few in other parts of the country.

I note that Aberdeen and Cornwall are both on the old herring-fishing track.


25-10-10, 23:29

Thank you all for your replies; yes, I had forgotten I had posted here before, I've just been refreshing my enquiries, trying new forums, but I doubled up here!

Anyway, thank you Allan, I do know about Emile and his family; I've got 2 contacts so I'm hoping for a lot more information soon. And thanks for recommending YoLiverpool; I'll try a few lines of enquiry there!

Thanks Christine; yes, I had thought that maybe he was Cornish (just living in Aberdeen?) & I saw rather intriguingly Chenoweth pops up in Cornwall more frequently; I'm looking for more information here, a lead, to determine more.

My one solid clue is I know he was on Scott's Discovery in 1901-1904; I did contact the Discovery Museum website but no reply as yet.

What I have right now is William Chenoweth was at least living in Scotland circa 1929; he was also on the Mount Stewart.

My research continues!

Thanks again,

Bye for now,


Christine in Herts
26-10-10, 12:48
I've just had a look at the censuses in 1891 and 1901.

There are 3 William CHENOWETHs in England (all in Cornwall) 1891 (age 5 in Redruth; age 8 in Truro & age 9 in Helston), but only 2 in 1901 (age 15 in Redruth & age 18 in Truro).

Only the Helston one was the son of a seaman - a fisherman.


Christine in Herts
26-10-10, 13:07
There's a FreeBMD marriage in Helston in 1881 q1 for Samuel John CHENOWETHs where there's a Christiana TREGEAR as one of the brides - which fits the remaining family info on the 1891 census.

That would account for a Samuel John b Helston 1856 q1 (not around in 1891)* and elder brother of William, also Samuel John b Helston 1883q1. And there's a William b Helston in 1883, q4.

*He seems to have died in Helston in 1927, aged 70.


Christine in Herts
26-10-10, 13:18
Interestingly - without going past the free bit - Scotland's People has a William CHENOWETH only in 1901, and not before. There's one birth reg and two marriages and deaths.


27-10-10, 01:50
Dear Christine,

Thanks for looking up William Chenoweth; I have tried looking him up too on the census, etc; I think I looked at the son of the seaman, as the most obvious possibility, but I just haven't fixed on that one yet or any other yet, given the slight difference in date of birth, but I know full well the dates of birth can be recorded out by a few years..... I've got a couple of possible leads I haven't chased up yet too; I have a big 'to do' list.

My search continues!
Thanks again,
All the best,

29-11-13, 20:22
Dear Jessica. I have been made aware of your interest about William Chenoweth and SS Garthpool today and I have just joined this forum to contact you about this. William Chenoweth was my great uncle.I have already researched a lot about him and his father William George Chenoweth (1843 – 1888) and have a fair amount of factual information about them and their families. For example, a 3 page newspaper article about the sinking of the SS Garthpool appeared in the People’s Journal (Aberdeen issue 3753) of 14 December 1929. In addition I have information about his father William George Chenoweth (including from the ship log in the Kew Archives) who was a crew member when the Sunny South was captured on 10 August, 1860 by the British crew of the sloop HMS Brisk in the Mozambique Channel with more than 800 slaves aboard. Sunny South was condemned as a prize and sold to the Royal Navy to be used as a sloop. She was renamed Enchantress but was wrecked in the Mozambique Channel on 20 February 1861 before being commissioned in the Royal Navy. See also Illustrated London News, 1860, vol.37, p.527. I would be happy to be contacted by you to share information. Kind regards. Lewis

Christine in Herts
29-11-13, 22:39
Welcome to FTF, Lewis44.

It would appear that Jessica hasn't been on the site for a very long time - over 3 years. It might be worth sending her a personal message (PM). If she hasn't changed her email address she might get a notification that you're trying to make contact.

If you click on her name on the left, you get a drop-down menu of which a PM is one option.


29-11-13, 23:56
many thanks, Christine. I shall try that. Kind regards Lewis

27-12-13, 11:38
Indeed, I haven't been on this website for 3 years! Time really has flown by; but my research did continue into 2011/2012, but then not much 2012/2013, to now....bit of a story.... put simply, I've been Vegan socializing for nearly 2 years; I've made a great bunch of new dear friends & regularly attend a number of events that I love a lot, including one I host every month in Brixton, South of the River. I celebrated a year of hosting that event by holding a charity raffle of a fab' Vegan hamper, I'm proud to say raising £82 for Animal Aid!

Thank you Christine for pointing Lewis to Private Messaging me, though indeed when I finally checked the email address in question, I found both notifications of course, the thread reply & PM message!

I do get round to ll my emails eventually!

Sometimes it's even worse than this; I've left messages on forums that had a box to tick as per usual, re; ''...tick here to be notified of replies...'' but for whatever reason, that website hasn't notified me, & ages later, idol googling of old websites lead me to happen upon replies I would've been completely oblivious to had I not been 'going over old ground'!!

Well, the old Garthpool is calling me loud & clear!

Thanks again for your messages Lewis!

I look forward to learning more!

All the best,
Jess :)