The day a ship sank in the Usk

WRECK: The Steamship Severn wrecked on the east bank of the Usk, between the modern day Millennium footbridge and the railway bridge. An artist from the Illustrated London News drew a dramatic view of the incident.

WRECK: The Steamship Severn wrecked on the east bank of the Usk, between the modern day Millennium footbridge and the railway bridge. An artist from the Illustrated London News drew a dramatic view of the incident.

First published in News
Last updated

AHEAD of our summer series of features looking into Gwent's forgotten past, here's one example from 170 years ago when a dramatic shipwreck rocked Newport.

On the evening of May 4, 1844, the screw-propelled steamship Severn cast off from the riverside wharf heading for Bristol. The tide was running strongly up the river, but the captain was confident his high-pressure steam engine and Archimedes screw (an early version of the modern propeller) would carry him safely against the stream.

Unfortunately, the captain did not think to check his equipment in advance. As the ship swung out into the river, the crew found that the propeller had become jammed by a length of chain.

The tide swept the Severn against the bridge, smashing holes in the hull and eventually sinking her. No lives were lost, but the ship, which was only a few weeks old, was a write-off.

Steamers were an important part of Newport's transport network, and several companies operated passenger services between ports on the Bristol Channel. Wooden jetties projected out into the river to allow passengers to reach the boats at low tide.

Do you have any recommendations of days in Gwent's long-forgotten history which your Argus should feature? Get in touch now by emailing newsdesk@southwalesargus.co.uk or call 01633 777226. Alternatively you can tweet your ideas to @southwalesargus

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