Locally the name “Burnside”, has caused arguments in families and cost some people 1000’s of hours and pound notes. So what is “Burnside”?
The Burnside was a wooden steamship, designed by Theodore “Ferris”. Design (USSB design #1001), a 82m long, coal-fired, triple expansion engined ship of 3,500 tons. At some time just after the great war, it was heading to the UK.
The story from there is a little muddled. It was possibly carrying coal or empty brass shell cases. It caught fire somewhere near Falmouth and was abandoned, it turned over, expelling it’s cargo. As the ship turned over, it also put the fire out. A day or so later, it was seen upside down and stuck somewhere in Gerrans Bay, most likely on the shallow Inner Bizzies pinnacles. Held fast by it’s masts or funnel, the navy were called in to get rid of it, it took them two weeks! Why did it take so long? What exactly happened?
The ship is well known locally amongst salvagers and wreck hunters. Many have looked in vain, hoping to get a ‘hit’ from the engines and boilers with a magnetometer. No one has found it, or any remains. Several stories have come to light. Some say it is on the Manacles, there is a lone triple expansion engine there, the wood rotted away whilst the boilers disappeared. Near Nare point there is a sole boiler, thought to have ended up there after some violent explosion, where is the other boiler and the engine.
A local newspaper reported that the bow or the Burnside washed up on Carne beach during the time the navy were there. It is then thought that it was towed further out to see and shot at by the air force, to help break it up. Reducing the ships timbers into smaller fragments until the weight of the boilers and engine caused it to sink. This may well explain why no one has ever found the Burnside, it may now rest in deep waters, the wood rotted or eaten away.
For now, the whereabouts of the Burnside shall remain a mystery.