Jump to main textSkip main navigation Home Smugglers Shipwrecks Dorset Museums For Teachers Virtual Galleries Archive
The Earl of Abergavenny
The Avalanche
The Avalanche
HMS Formidable
The Halsewell
The Royal Adelaide

The Avalanche and Forest

The Avalanche and The Forest are two separate ships.

The Avalanche was a three - masted, iron passenger ship operated by the New Zealand Line. It was carrying sixty-three passengers and a cargo of goods from Manchester. Most of the passengers were colonists returning to New Zealand after visiting England, and emigrants setting out to make new lives for themselves.

The Forest was a Canadian cargo ship built out of wood. It was said that it took a whole forest to build it, hence its name! It was bound for New York and was sailing in ballast, that is without a cargo.

The two ships collided in bad weather off Portland on the night of 11th September, 1877. The Forest hit the Avalanche several times on the port side. The Avalanche was almost cut in half and sank in five minutes. Its passengers and most of the crew were trapped below decks and were unable to escape.

The crew of the Forest launched three lifeboats, only one of which survived. It was unable to land on the Chesil Beach so Portlanders used their own boats to rescue the twelve survivors.

A monument was built overlooking the site of the wreck to remember those who died in the tragedy.


Which object do you think came from this ship?

The Photograph
The Lead Seal
The Silver Button
The Shoe
The Stained Glass


Click on the objects below to find out more

Thumbnail image of photograph linking to larger image and more information which will open in a pop-up window