Ships & Wrecks

The Story of the Adelaide.  

The Royal Adelaide was sailing from London to Australia with 67 passengers and crew. Many of the passengers, including families, were emigrating, and all that they possessed was stowed on board. The ship also carried a large cargo of goods made in Britain to trade to the colonists.

The Royal Adelaide was caught in severe gales in the Channel. All day the crew struggled to prevent the ship from being washed ashore but late in the afternoon of the 25th November 1872, it grounded on the Chesil Beach, about 19 metres from the shore. Sixty people were rescued, but one crew member and six passengers were drowned.

Royal Adelaide in storm

Task One


The aim is to get children to think about possible ways to get the passengers and crew from the stricken ship to the shore.

Tell the children it is not possible for the people to simply jump overboard and swim since the sea is much too rough.

The rescue can be as fanciful as they wish but the pupils must be able to explain what they have done.

Once pupils have devised their ‘ship to shore’ rescues give them the opportunity to share the ideas.

Task Two


The aim is to get the children to empathise, to consider solutions to set problems and to re assess their ideas as a result of additional information being available.

Read either part of the original or simplified account of the Adelaide rescue.

Source One - Illustrated London News 7 th December 1872

Source Two - Adelaide Wreck 28.11.1872

Task Three


The aim is to pull together the ideas they have devised from their first rescue, the role play, and the storyboard for the second rescue description. Their ideas can be tested by using a selection of DT activities.

‘Making a Rocket’ ideas, equipment and instructions

‘Pulley Systems’ ideas, equipment and diagrams

‘Breeches Buoy’ ideas, equipment and instructions