The Wreck of The Wallace

(Last Updated On: December 11, 2020)

On 2 January 1873, ‘The Wallace’, a ship from Boston, was taking a cargo of petroleum to Antwerp and returning to New Orleans, when winds drove her into the Bay.

A fire was discovered on board and the ship was grounded 500 yards from where Princess Pier is now. This was a spectacular sight and the Torbay Road thronged with crowds of onlookers.

Fearful that the ship would drift and that fire would spread to the town, the Volunteers moved their gun from Corbyn Head (pictured above) and made a hole in the sea wall ready to sink her.


By the 7th the Wallace had burned down to its copper sheathing and was completely lost. However, Torquay, being a tourist town, made many souvenir articles from pieces of ‘The Wallace’s ‘wreck. It would be interesting to see if any are still out there?

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Kevin Dixon went to Audley Park – now Torquay Academy – and South Devon College when it was at Torre. After studying at Birmingham City University, he returned home because there’s nowhere else quite like Torquay. He then became involved in community and adult education, completed a PhD at Exeter University , and started writing about the weird and unknown side of town. He now Chairs Healthwatch Torbay and is involved in health and social care in the Bay.