The Royal Charter sank on the 26th of October 1859 on its return voyage from Australia. On its voyage back to Liverpool with it’s hold and passengers laden with gold it encountered a force 12 hurricane. This weather event became known as the Royal Charter Storm. The captain it is claimed was advised to port in Holyhead Harbour to weather out the storm but continued on to Liverpool in haste.
The precise number of passengers is not known of which only 39 survived. Moreover it is believed to have had around 450 people on board at the time of the storm. There were no women or children that survived the wreckage. Its is believed most were killed by being dashed against the rocks rather than drowning. Others did drown as there pockets were weighted down with the gold they carried on their person.
There is a standout story of heroism on that Fateful night. Crew member Joseph Rogers ( Guzi Ruggier from Malta) swam whilst holding a heavy rope and manged to climb the cliffs above the ship. The residents of Moelfre had gathered on the cliff and held the rope allowing several to escape until the rope finally snapped.
There were residents of Moelfre who became rich over night after finding gold in the time that followed the storm. The Royal Charter was salvaged shortly after due to its precious cargo. Gold, coins, pistols etc have been found by chance by people diving on the wreck. As recent as 2012 a 97 gram nugget was found just 40 metres from the wreck with and estimated value of £50,000. Enthusiasts still pan for gold in the local rockpools and small quantities of gold dust are sometimes found.
Now the wreck sits just 5 metres from the shoreline, very little is left of the boat. Plates, bulkhead and ribs sit nestled on the bottom. These are sometimes unearthed by the shifting tides particularly following storms.
A memorial sits atop the cliff overlooking the area of the wreck. There is also more information in the Lifeboat station close by. There is a fantastic painting depicting the events of the that fateful night. It hangs on a wall in Moelfre Seawatch, giving a great sense of what occurred during the storm.
There is a pay and display car park next to the lifeboat station should you be inclined to take a look, it really is fascinating.
You can find the Royal Charter at Porth Alerth in Dulas Bay, Moelfre on the north-east coast of Anglesey. Moelfre LL72 8NA