Research Pt2


The initial investigations (Research Pt1) failed to provide any conformation about the true identity of the ship known as the Norseman, thus a new direction was required. To this end detailed talks were held with local historian Bryan Woodford. Using his extensive network of local contacts the story of the quest to discover more about the wreck was related to ex-Hamble ferryman Reg Sedgewick. He in turn passed on the information that he believed the Norseman was an American yacht brought over to the UK in the 1900ís.

A return visit was made to the Southampton Library and the Mercantile Navy List / Lloyds Register of Yachts was inspected. Armed with the possible American origins and dimensions the search this time was more focused. Sure enough there was a Norseman of the correct size and origin registered with Lloyds of London in 1917. From this start an ongoing chronology was established.

Lloyds Register stated that this Norseman, if the correct one, was built at the C&R Poillon boatyard in Brooklyn USA in 1881. A search of the Internet showed that this shipyard produced many famous racing yachts from the early 1800ís and into the 1900ís. It was through one of these web sites that contact was made with Ms. Nannette Poillon (a great-great-granddaughter of Cornelius Poillon founder of the shipyard). Through e-mail correspondence much of the early life of the Norseman was finally uncovered (see Norseman). Additional information was gained through extracts of the ďRecord of American and Foreign ShippingĒ available through the Internet, which allowed the history of the ship to be traced back to its original launch.

But was this the correct boat? The available records showed that the ship was built from oak, a North American larch known as Hackmatack and yellow pine and constructed with galvanized and copper fittings. However, funds were not available to carry out tests to establish the type of wood still remaining on the tidal foreshore (remember this investigation was being carried out on zero budget in the authors spare time). However, a fine line drawing of the Norsemanís hull was provided by Ms. Nannette Poillon and Claas van der Linde which was originally drawn by F. Chevalier and J. Taglang (see below).

Norseman_Drawn_By_Taglang JPG1

©Chevalier-Taglang collection

The size and material appeared to match but further conformation was required to finally pin down the identity. Nannette had kindly provided several newspaper cutting describing the launch of the ship. These were very detailed and gave precise dimensions of the planking and frames. This allowed measurements to be taken to see if the physical remains of the boat matched those published way back in 1881.

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Norseman Herald21Apr1881

Extract of the Herald, 21st April 1881

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The key dimensions here were the frames quoted as being 6 by 9 inches and the planking being 2.5 inches thick. Also remember that it had been established from the Lloyds records that the ship was held together with galvanized and copper fittings.

A return visit was made to the wreck, this time with a trowel and ruler so that the mud could be excavated and these measurements taken. The results of these investigations can be seen below.


During this simple dig a number of copper alloy nails were discovered. A small number of samples were taken to be drawn up.

Item A was a brass bolt and item B a copper nail. In addition small corroded sections of anti-fouling copper sheet was discovered (not shown).

Brass finds2_small1

Thus we had now firmly established the identity of the wreck. The local name was confirmed to be correct, the dimensions fitted those of published in Lloyds register, the chronology was correct and the construction matched that gained from the newspaper reports.

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