The site of the wreck

YESTERDAY we went to Whitstable, the ancient fishing port on the North Kent coast which has been famous for its oysters since Roman times.

To the west are the marshlands of the Thames estuary, and immediately to the north, on the opposite shore of the river mouth, is Essex. But turning eastwards, out on the submerged sandbanks where the London Array windfarm now stands, you’re looking roughly at the site where the Deutschland sank in December 1875.

Bound for New York from Bremen, she ran aground in a blizzard on the Kentish Knock, midway between Margate and Harwich. Most passengers and crew survived, clinging to the stricken wreck for 30 hours as they waited for rescue, but 57 people died. It looks pretty bleak out there on a calm day in August; what it must have been like in a December snowstorm doesn’t bear thinking about.

The story of five of those passengers features in The Hopkins Conundrum.

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