The Remaking of the Figurehead from the Brig Samaritan (1846)
The figurehead is believed to have come from the brig Samaritan, built in Great Yarmouth at the South Street yard of William Teasdell in 1840. She is listed in the Lloyds register as owned by Mr. Thomas Merchant, trading between Liverpool and Trieste.
Samaritan made her last voyage in 1846, outward bound from Liverpool for Alexandria carrying a cargo of Bale goods. On the 21st October, whilst still in the Irish Sea, she was caught in a storm. Battling against a lee shore, she struck the Bedruthan Steps just South of Padstow, North Cornwall with the loss of her master, mate and seven of her nine crewmen. The morning after the wreck, her cargo of cotton, silks and brassware were strewn along the beach, to be gathered up by local villagers.
The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette reported on Saturday the 28th of November 1846 that;
“More than 20 persons had been summarily committed to Bodmin Gaol with hard labour from 3-5 months for plundering from the Brig Samaritan”
The figurehead, as so often happens, was also washed ashore and recovered by the forbearers of the Gregor family of St Merryn, it was later sold to a Mr Saunders of Trevone. No more was heard of the Samaritan until 1928 when, she was acquired by a Mrs Rhodes-Moorhouse. Since then, apart from a recently brief absence, she has stood in the garden of a house overlooking Constantine Bay, alongside the coastal path where it has become something of a local landmark.
The passage of time at this exposed cliff side has sadly taken its toll on the figure, which has rotted beyond repair. This has necessitated the carving of a replacement whilst sufficient sections of the original remain to create a faithful copy. The current owners, committed to restoring the figurehead, sort the help of ships carver Andy Peters to carve a replica.
Andy uses the same tools as the carvers from that period, his knowledge of Victorian fashion and understanding of the vernacular to recreate the presence and spirit these figureheads once brought to a ship of that era. Working from the few remaining fragments and some old photographs, Andy was able to create a faithful copy that has now been reunited with its owners in Constantine Bay, Cornwall. The occasion was marked with an unveiling ceremony that included a BBC film crew and some rousing musical accompaniment from local shanty singers, Kernow Bouys.
Scroll down to see more pictures of Andy’s work on the Samaritan figurehead.