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I WAS VERY INTERESTED TO READ THE ARTICLE about Niagara’s gold on pages 39 and 40 in the July 2010 issue of Sea Breezes. It is a little known fact that Risdon Beazley Marine Ltd, the Southampton Salvage company, also worked on this shipwreck in 1953.
The converted steam dredger/hopper Foremost 17 had been towed to New South Wales to recover 1,280 tons of lead and copper from the ss Cumberland, and also work on one or two other wrecks.
Captain John Williams, who had recovered the gold from Niagara in 1941, paid a visit to the Foremost 17 and after observing the old ship and her sophisticated equipment (for that time), Captain Williams suggested to Mr Beazley that it might be worth a further attempt to look for the remaining 35 ingots of gold in the Niagara.
Risdon Beazley’s salvage team re-Iocated the wreck and recovered 30 of the 35 remaining gold ingots, which weighed approximately half a ton. Risdon Beazley’s divers used what they referred to as the ‘Iron Man’, which was in fact an early atmospheric Articulated Diving suit, designed by Neufeldt & Kuhnke.
Several years later Risdon Beazley went on to recover the gold from the Empire Manor off New Foundland, with the purpose built salvage vessel Droxford. Between 1947 and 1980 over 51,000 tons of non-ferrous cargoes from ships lost in many different parts of the world was recovered by this company. Most of the sunken cargo vessels were from wartime activities and only a few from natural disasters such as grounding or foundering in deep water.
Although the company Risdon Beazley Marine no longer exists, it will be remembered by many who witnessed the return of Brunei’s ship ss Great Britain in 1970 from the Falkland Islands. Risdon Beazley played a pivotal part in the salvage, from planning the operation and sending a salvage team to the remote Falklands Islands. The transportation of the Great Britain back to Bristol was conducted by an associated company, Ulrich Harms of Cuxhaven.
35 Horns Drove
Southampton, S016 8AG
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