SS Chorley: During World War One there was one naval vessel in action whose name has an intriguing connection to the town

As we continue our Chorley 150 series, local historian Stuart Clewlow looks at the story of a naval ship struck by a torpedo in World War One.

Saturday, 17th July 2021, 3:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 7:47 pm
A German submarine alongside a sinking British ship - Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow
A German submarine alongside a sinking British ship - Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

It is not known whether the ship SS Chorley was named directly after our borough, but it is an interesting connection nevertheless.

The steam-powered steel cargo ship was built in 1901 by Richardson, Duck & Co, Stockton on Tees.

It measured 103.6 ft in length and weighed 3,828 tons.

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The Tatem Steam Navigation Company of Cardiff operated the ship that had a crew of 27.

On March 3, 1917, ‘Chorley’ sailed from Norfolk with a cargo of 6,525 tons of munitions, 1,050 copper, 507 tons of brass and 1,500 tons of steel for the French Government.

Without warning on March 22 the ship was struck by a German torpedo from submarine UC-48 (commanded by Kapitan Kurt Ramien).

'Chorley’ sank 25 miles off Start Point, Devon and lies in between 50-60m of water.

The SS Chorley - Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

There were no casualties and the crew were later picked up and landed at Weymouth.

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It is estimated that 90% of the wreck was salvaged in 1937 for its ingots of metal and most of the non-ferrous cargo was recovered in the 1950s and 60s.

As well as being able to see the engine, prop shaft, rudder, etc, pieces of cargo can still be found on the sea bed around the wreck and it is still said to be an interesting site for divers.

The bell from SS Chorley - picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

In 2006 the ship's bell was recovered, still bearing the name ‘Chorley’.

Chorley 150 Countdown

As the Chorley Guardian reflects on the 150 years since it first published, we're telling the stories of how the borough has been shaped through people, places and events.

We're highlighting 150 stories about Chorley: Inspirational people, places that we love, or special moments in the life of the borough.

If you have a story you'd like to share as part of this Chorley 150 series, email [email protected]

Read more from our Chorley 150 countdown: