I was tidying my attic when I found, I don't know how it came there, a copy of Pulman's Weekly dated Tuesday, October 15, 1907. It contained the following report under the title: "Russian Steamer(sic) wrecked near Exmouth":
"A Russian three-masted fore and aft schooner, name unknown, from the Baltic, with timber for Messrs Sharpe, Exmouth, went ashore on Thursday afternoon one and a half miles from Exmouth. She rolled badly, and the sea washing over her, the crew sought safety in the rigging.
The lifeboat was unable to rescue them owing to the blinding surf and sea but eventually the Teignmouth lifeboat, which put off, rode up on the windward side of the schooner and, to the great relief of anxious watchers on the shore, rescued the seamen from a perilous position. As soon as the ship had been abandoned the masts were washed away. The vessel is breaking up."
Despite the headline, the ship, "Viga", was no steamer. It must have been truly desperate for the seamen high in the shrouds looking down at their crippled ship and an angry sea. Messrs Sharpe of Exmouth, to whom they were carrying a cargo, were still selling timber from their vast dockside timber sheds twenty or thirty years ago when I was building my kitchen. B&Q is just not the same somehow. Later in the same newspaper is reported:
"LOOTING A WRECK- The Russian schooner, Viga, which went aground at Exmouth on Thursday, drove further in shore during Friday night and split in half. In the evening the crew boarded the vessel and discovered that she had been looted, two watches, a telescope, silver articles and some clothing being stolen."
Some lightfingered Exmothians got lucky. That Russian telescope will be turning up on the Antiques Roadshow one of these days, you mark my words.