Catharina North Shore Llandudno

Catharina North Shore Llandudno

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Flying Foam - Introduction to the History of the Flying Foam

Further to a recent talk Ships' Timbers gave to the Deganwy History Group about the Flying Foam, we thought it would be a good idea to share some of the presentation slides about the unfolding history of the wreck. With a sailing career of 85 years, it is going to take some time to thoroughly research the history of the Flying Foam, her journeys, and the people involved. So here is an introduction.

The above sections from the Bridgwater Port Register show us that the Flying Foam was a Sailing vessel, she was built in St Malo, France in 1861 and was built by the Jersey Boat Builder George Asplet. She had one deck, two masts, square stern, and was carvel built which means planks of the hull were fastened edge to edge gaining support from the frame and forming a smooth surface rather than overlapping as you would find in clinker built wooden boats. The advantage of a Carvel build is a stronger hull, which enables greater length and breadth of hull and then superior sail rigs. Indeed this was one of the critical developments that led to the pre-eminence of western European sea power during the age of sail and beyond. She had a Scroll head which signifies that there was no figure head.  Initially, her registered tonnage was 99 tons approximately, but then following the introduction of the 1867 Merchant Shipping Act deductions were made and tonnage was recorded as approximately 82 tons. Some confusion about date of building emerges due to the fact there were two Flying Foam’s around that time! The Shipwreck Index of British Isles, Vol 5 West Coast and Wales, Larne and Larne is incorrect as it has the 1879 Flying Foam details, instead of the details for our Flying Foam built in 1861.


The Flying Foam was a Coastal Trader travelling up and down the North and Irish Sea. During her 85 year career she had her fair share of mishaps!
In November 1905 she was stranded for 10 days in the inner harbour at St Andrews before floating off on the Spring Tide to continue her journey to Portsmouth.
In November 1925, she ran aground near Tortland Bay Isle of Wight in a north easterly gale but was able to float off once the gale had abated.
On 10th May, 1933 she lost her jibs and staysails after batting gales and fog for 14 days on a voyage from Parr in Cornwall to Kirkaldy with a cargo of China Clay. She was taken in tow by the Bridlington Coble Liberty and towed into harbour. 
Then finally, on Tuesday 21st January 1936 the Flying Foam had been anchored for the night off Anglesey between Puffin Island and Penmaenmawr. She was sheltering from a gale when she dragged her anchor and drifted off towards Conway Bay, and The Great Orme’s Head. On board the vessel was Captain Roy Jackson, his wife, four crewmen, and two cats. As she drifted, the Flying Foam began to take on water and the Beaumaris Lifeboat, Frederick Kitchen was launched, and recovered the crew, passenger, and both cats. Local trawler men then got on board the stricken vessel and attempted to pump the water out, but their efforts were fruitless in the heavy gales. The Flying Foam drifted towards the west shore, and ran aground, sadly becoming a total loss.
After unloading the cargo many of the timbers were removed from the Flying Foam and reused in various locations in Llandudno. 
Today, the timbers of the Flying Foam are visible during low tide times. The wreck lies 200m out to sea, from the Dale Road Car Park, on Llandudno's west shore. In 2013, Ships' Timbers adopted the Flying Foam wreck as part of the Nautical Archaeology Society's Adopt a Wreck Scheme!  

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