Goodwin Sands is a 10-mile (16 km) long sandbank at the southern end of the North Sea lying 6 miles (10 km) off the Deal coast in Kent, England. The area consists of a layer of approximately 25 m (82 ft) depth of fine sand resting on an Upper Chalk platform belonging to the same geological feature that incorporates the White Cliffs of Dover. The banks lie between 0.5 m (1 ft 8 in) above the low water mark to around 3 m (10 ft) below low water, except for one channel that drops to around 20 m (66 ft) below. Tides and currents are constantly shifting the shoals.
More than 2,000 ships are believed to have been wrecked upon the Goodwin Sands because they lie close to the major shipping lanes through the Straits of Dover. The few miles between the sands and the coast is also a safe anchorage used as a refuge from foul weather known as The Downs. Due to the dangers, the area – which also includes Brake Bank – is marked by numerous lightvessels and buoys.
Notable shipwrecks include HMS Stirling Castle in 1703, VOC ship Rooswijk in 1740, the SS Montrose in 1914, and the South Goodwin Lightship, which broke free from its anchor moorings during a storm in 1954. Several naval battles have been fought nearby, including the Battle of Goodwin Sands in 1652 and the Battle of Dover Strait in 1917.
When hovercraft ran from Pegwell Bay, Ramsgate, they used to make occasional trips over the Sands, where boats could not safely go.
Southeast from Goodwin Sands lies the Sandettie Bank.
The East Goodwin lightship guards the end of the Sands on the farthest part out, to warn ships. It is the only remaining lightship of the five which once guarded the sands. The sands were once covered by three lighthouses on the Kent mainland with only North Foreland lighthouse still in operation. South Foreland lighthouse, once known as South Foreland Upper lighthouse is now owned by the National Trust. This once worked with the nearby South Foreland Low lighthouse, also known as Old St Margaret's Lighthouse. When the two South Foreland lights were in alignment ship's crews would know that they had reached the South-most extent of the sandbank. When the Goodwin sands shifted South Foreland Low was decommissioned and replaced by the South Goodwin Lightvessel. The first of these ships was bombed by the Germans and sank on 25 October 1940. The replacement vessel, LV90 sank on 27 November 1954 when cables to her two sea anchors broke in a hurricane-force storm. The wreck of the lightship can still be seen at low tide. The next replacement South Goodwin Lightvessel was decommissioned and was towed away on the 26th of July 2006.
In 1817, borings in connection with a plan by Trinity Board to erect a lighthouse on the Sands revealed, beneath fifteen feet of sand, a stratum identified by Charles Lyell as London clay lying upon a chalk basement. Based on this, Lyell proposed that the Sands were the eroded remains of a clay island similar to Sheppey, rather than a mere shifting of the sea bottom shaped by currents and tides.
Lyell's assessment was uncritically followed until the mid-20th century, and enlarged upon by G. B. Gattie who asserted, based on unsourced legends, that the sands were once the fertile low-lying island of Lomea, which he equated with an island said to be known to the Romans as Infera Insula ("Low Island"). This, Gattie said, was owned in the first half of the 11th century by Godwin, Earl of Wessex, after whom the Sands are named. When he fell from favour, the land was supposedly given to St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, whose abbot failed to maintain the sea walls, leading to the island's destruction, some say, in the storm of 1099 mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. However, the island is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, suggesting that if it existed it may have been inundated before the Domesday Book was compiled in 1085–86. The earliest written record of the name "Lomea" seems to be in the De Rebus Albionicis (published 1590) by John Twyne, but no authority for the island's existence is given. There is a brief mention of a sea-tide inundation in 1092 creating the Godwin sands in a 19th-century book of agricultural records, reissued in 1969.
The modern geological view is that the island of Lomea probably never existed. Although the area now covered by sands and sea was once dry land, the Strait of Dover opened in the Weald-Artois chalk range in prehistory – between around 7600 BC and 5000 BC – not within historical time.
Another theory about the origin of the name is that the sands' name came from Anglo-Saxon gōd wine = "good friend", an ironic name given by sailors, or because ships can shelter from storms in deep water called The Roads between the Goodwin Sands and the coast.
Great Storm of 1703 In the Great Storm of 1703 at least 13 men-of-war and 40 merchant vessels were wrecked in The Downs, with the loss of 2,168 lives and 708 guns. Yet, to their credit, the Deal boatmen were able to rescue 200 men from this ordeal.
Naval vessels lost to the sands included:
1740 The Dutch merchant ship "Rooswijk", on her way to Cape of Good Hope and the East Indies, fell victim on the Goodwin Sands to a storm on the 8th of January 1740. It sank with the loss of everyone on board, almost 250 sailors, soldiers and passengers. The silty environment has preserved the wreck for so long, however, shifting tidal flows started to expose the timbers and goods and thus spurred its salvage in 2017 by Historic England and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
1748 According to legend the Lady Lovibond was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands on 13 February 1748, amidst alleged controversy over the cause of her sinking in which all hands were lost. She is said to reappear every fifty years as a ghost ship. No references to the shipwreck are known to exist in contemporary records or sources, including newspapers, Lloyd's List or Lloyd's Register.
1809 Admiral Gardner was wrecked in January 1809, with her cargo, a large number of East India Company X and XX copper cash coins, belonging to Matthew Boulton. The wreck was found in 1984 and some coins were salvaged in 1985 during a licensed dive.
1857 The mail paddle steamer SS The Violet was driven onto the sands during a storm on 5 January 1857 with the loss of seventeen crew, a mail guard, and one passenger.
The Belgian cargo ship SS Cap Lopez was wrecked on the sands in 1907.
Two ships named SS Mahratta ran aground on the Sands, one in 1909 and the other in 1939.
The passenger ship SS Chusan collided with the freighter Prospector near the Sands in June 1953, severely damaging and nearly sinking her.
On 10 June 2013, a Dornier Do 17 Z2 was raised from Goodwin Sands. The German bomber had made an emergency landing in the sea over the Sands on 26 August 1940 after a bombing raid. Two of the four-man crew were killed on impact, the remaining crew becoming POWs. The Dornier was located on the Sands in September 2008 and plans were made to recover it, as it is one of two surviving aircraft of this type.
The salvage started on 3 May 2013 with the plane destined eventually for RAF Hendon in 2015, though poor weather and the position of the plane on chalk rather than the silt expected caused the plan to be amended to attaching ropes to three points on the fuselage. The plane was finally lifted on 10 June 2013. It is believed to be from 7 Staffel, III Gruppe/KG3 (7th Sqn of 3rd Group of Bomber Wing 3) operating from Sint-Truiden aerodrome 60 km east of Brussels, shot down on 26 August 1940 by a Boulton Paul Defiant of No. 264 Squadron RAF, based in Hornchurch, either one crewed by Desmond Hughes and Fred Gash or one of the three 264 Squadron aircraft shot down soon after in a battle with Bf 109E fighter escorts of the German fighter wing JG 3.
The August 1969 issue of Dock and Harbour Authority magazine carried an article 'A National Roadstead' which reported on a 1968 proposal to the Ministry of Transport for reclaiming the Goodwin Sands and constructing a deep water port on them.
In 1985 consultants Sir Bruce White Wolfe Barry and Partners promoted a proposal for developing an International Freeport combined with a two-runway airport located on three reclaimed islands on the sands. In 2003, the idea was still under consideration. Being far from residential areas it has the advantage of 24-hour-a-day take-offs and landings without causing disturbance.
In December 2012, the Goodwin Sands were once again promoted as a potential site for a £39 billion 24-hour airport to become the UK's hub airport. Engineering firm Beckett Rankine believes their proposals for up to five offshore runways at Goodwin Airport are the 'most sustainable solution' with the 'least adverse impact' when compared to other options that have been proposed for the expansion of runway capacity in the southeast. They claim that this is due to the absence of statutory environmental protection on the Goodwin Sands and the alignment of the runways which avoids any overflying of the coast.
In the summer of 1824, Captain K. Martin, then the Harbourmaster at Ramsgate, instituted the proceedings of the first known cricket match on the Goodwin Sands, at low water. Such was the tenacity of local mariners that a tradition sprang up that survives to this day, whereby those so inclined make the journey to the Sands for a leisurely few hours in pursuit of this very English pastime.. An annual cricket match was until 2003 played on the sands at low tide, and a crew filming a reconstruction of this for the BBC television series Coast had to be rescued by the Ramsgate lifeboat when they got into difficulty in 2006.
Following a two-year public consultation the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) granted Dover Harbour Board a licence to dredge 3 million tonnes of aggregate from the Goodwin Sands on 26 July 2018.
Mary Wroth refers to Goodwin Sands as a place of shipwreck in her sonnet sequence Pamphilia to Amphilanthus (1621):
R. M. Ballantyne, the Scottish writer of adventure stories, published The Floating Light of the Goodwin Sands in 1870.
Charles Spurgeon mentions them in The Soul Winner, chapter 15 "Encouragement to Soul-Winners."
The sands are depicted in the 1929 film The Lady from the Sea, which is sometimes known by the title of Goodwin Sands.
In the 2014 biographical film Mr. Turner, the first husband of the housekeeper Mrs. Booth is mentioned as having died in a boating accident at Goodwin Sands.
In the novel The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt the Goodwin sands play a major plot point and the masts from wrecked ships are often sighted from the shore.
In the short story "Flood on the Goodwins" (1933) by Arthur Durham Divine, on a foggy night during the First World War, a German saboteur orders a British mariner at gunpoint to take him to the coast of Belgium. Instead, the mariner circles for hours and then, telling the saboteur they have reached Belgium, strands the German at low tide on the Goodwins, six miles from shore, knowing that the tide will drown the villain.
In Julian Stockwin's Invasion the Sands are both a hindrance and protection for the British fleet assembled for the rapid deployment against Napoleon's invasion armada. The protagonist Kydd even takes part in the rescue of a merchantman vessel being gale forced onto the Sands.
The naval Battle of Goodwin Sands (also known as the Battle of Dover), fought on 19 May 1652 (29 May 1652 Gregorian calendar), was the first engagement of the First Anglo-Dutch War between the navies of the Commonwealth of England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands.English ship Mary (1650)
Speaker was a 50-gun third-rate frigate and the name ship of the Speaker-class, built for the navy of the Commonwealth of England by Christopher Pett at Woolwich Dockyard and launched in 1650. At the Restoration she was renamed HMS Mary. By 1677 her armament had been increased to 62 guns.In 1688 Mary was rebuilt by Thomas Shish at Woolwich Dockyard as a 62-gun third-rate ship of the line. Mary was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands in the Great Storm of 1703. Of her 275 crew, her captain and purser were ashore at the time of her loss, only one sailor survived.Great Storm of 1703
The Great Storm of 1703 was a destructive extratropical cyclone that struck central and southern England on 26 November 1703 (7 December 1703 in the Gregorian calendar in use today). High winds caused 2,000 chimney stacks to collapse in London and damaged the New Forest, which lost 4,000 oaks. Ships were blown hundreds of miles off-course, and over 1,000 seamen died on the Goodwin Sands alone. News bulletins of casualties and damage were sold all over England – a novelty at that time. The Church of England declared that the storm was God’s vengeance for the sins of the nation. Daniel Defoe thought it was a divine punishment for poor performance against Catholic armies in the War of the Spanish Succession.Guttenburg
The Guttenburg was a German brig of 170 tons that was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands on 1 January 1860, resulting in the death of 26 of the 31 people aboard.HMS E52
HMS E52 was a British E class submarine ordered from Yarrow Shipbuilders, Scotstoun but was transferred on 3 March 1915 to William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton. She was laid down on 25 January 1917 and was commissioned on an unknown date. E52 sank the U-boat UC-63 near the Goodwin Sands, Dover Straits on 1 November 1917. E52 was sold on 3 January 1921 at Brixham.HMS Restoration (1678)
HMS Restoration was a 70-gun third-rate ship of the line of the English Royal Navy, named after the English Restoration. She was built by Betts of Harwich and launched in 1678.She took part in the Battle of Barfleur on 19 May 1692. She was rebuilt at Portsmouth Dockyard in 1702, remaining a 70-gun third rate.Restoration was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands in the Great Storm of 1703. All 387 men were lost, including her captain, named Emms.HMS Shrewsbury (1695)
HMS Shrewsbury was a three-decker 80-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched at Portsmouth Dockyard on 6 February 1695.Shrewsbury narrowly escaped destruction on the Goodwin Sands during the Great Storm on 26 November 1703. She was rebuilt according to the 1706 Establishment at Deptford Dockyard, and was relaunched on 12 August 1713.The Shrewsbury was part of Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon's fleet and took part in the expedition to Cartagena de Indias during the War of Jenkins' Ear.
Shrewsbury continued in service until 1749, when she was broken up.HMS Stirling Castle (1679)
HMS Stirling Castle was a 70-gun third-rate ship of the line of the English Royal Navy, built at Deptford in 1679. She underwent a rebuild at Chatham Dockyard in 1699. She was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands off Deal on 27 November 1703.HMS Vanguard (1678)
HMS Vanguard was a 90-gun second-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at Portsmouth Dockyard and launched in 1678.She ran onto Goodwin Sands in 1690, but was fortunate enough to be hauled off by the boatmen of Deal.
Vanguard took part in the Battle of Barfleur as part of Edward Russell's fleet, and then in the following action at La Hougue when French ships were burned in 1692.
Vanguard sank in the Great Storm of 1703, while laid up in ordinary at Chatham Dockyard, but was raised in 1704 for rebuilding. She was relaunched from Chatham on 2 August 1710 as a 90-gun second rate built to the 1706 Establishment. In 1739 she was renamed HMS Duke, and rebuilt for a second time at Woolwich as a 90-gun second rate. She was rebuilt according to the 1733 proposals of the 1719 Establishment, and relaunched on 28 April 1739.Duke was broken up in 1769.Innisfallen
There have been five ships named Innisfallen. They served on the Irish Sea route between Cork and Fishguard. The first two were war casualties. The third was broken up. The final two (which have been renamed) are still in service, albeit in warmer waters.
An earlier ship named Innisfallen was built at Blyth, Northumberland, England, in about 1863. She sank with the loss of eight lives in the English Channel in the vicinity of the Goodwin Sands in a storm at the end of November 1897, on a voyage from South Shields to Cowes. She was carrying a cargo of gascoal when she sank.Lady Lovibond
The Lady Lovibond (sometimes spelled Luvibond) is the name given to a legendary schooner that is alleged to have been wrecked on the Goodwin Sands, off the Kent coast of south-east England, on 13 February 1748, and is said to reappear there every fifty years as a ghost ship. No contemporary records of the ship or its supposed sinking are to be found.
The story goes that the ship was at sea on 13 February because her captain, Simon Reed (in some accounts named Simon Peel), had just been married, and was celebrating the occasion with a cruise. According to several accounts, the ship was bound for Oporto in Portugal. Despite the longstanding sailors' superstition that it was bad luck to bring a woman on board, Reed had brought his bride Annetta with him on the ship.
According to legend, the first mate, John Rivers, a rival for the hand of the captain's young wife, was pacing the decks in jealous anger. While the captain, his wife and their guests were celebrating the marriage below deck, the first mate was seized with a fit of jealous rage. Casually drawing a heavy, club-like belaying pin from the rail, the mate walked softly up behind the crew member at the wheel and felled him to the deck with one crushing blow. Rivers then seized the wheel and steered the ship onto the treacherous Goodwin Sands, killing everyone aboard. A subsequent inquiry into the disaster recorded a verdict of misadventure.The first supposed sighting of the phantom Lady Lovibond on 13 February 1798 was reported by at least two ships, the Edenbridge captained by James Westlake, and a fishing smack. Its alleged 1848 appearance convinced local seamen that a wreck had occurred – they sent out lifeboats from Deal in hopes of rescuing the survivors. Captain Bull Prestwick allegedly sighted her in 1948, and reported that she looked real, but gave off an eerie green glow. There was no reported 1998 sighting.
The Goodwin Sands are England's most fertile grounds for ghost ships, and are also the location of the legendary island of Lomea. The Lady Lovibond shares the area with two other phantom vessels: a liner called the SS Montrose, and the Shrewsbury, a man-of-war.
Researchers George Behe and Michael Goss came to the conclusion that there is no reliable primary sources that mention the Lady Lovibond before a 1924 article in the Daily Chronicle. They speculated that the ship may have been a fabrication from the journalist, or based on a ship that sailed into view between 1914 and 1924. Behe and Goss speculate that stories about the ship may have been invented for Valentine's Day and there were similarities with the story from other fictional ghost stories.SM UC-46
SM UC-46 was a German Type UC II minelaying submarine or U-boat in the German Imperial Navy (German: Kaiserliche Marine) during World War I. The U-boat was ordered on 20 November 1915, laid down on 1 February 1916, and was launched on 8 August 1916. She was commissioned into the German Imperial Navy on 15 September 1916 as SM UC-46. In four patrols UC-46 was credited with sinking 10 ships, either by torpedo or by mines laid. UC-46 was rammed and sunk southeast of Goodwin Sands by the British destroyer Liberty on 8 February 1917.SS Cap Lopez
The SS Cap Lopez was a 758 GRT cargo ship that was built in 1885 as Rheinland. She was sold in 1905 and renamed, and became stranded on the south Goodwin Sands on 21 December 1907.SS Mahratta (1891)
SS Mahratta was a steamship owned by Brocklebank Line which was launched in 1891 and ran aground on the Goodwin Sands in 1909. One member of the crew committed suicide.SS Northeastern Victory
The SS Northeastern Victory was a cargo ship built during World War II, under the Emergency Shipbuilding program. The Northeastern Victory (MCV-735) was a type VC2-S-AP2 Victory ship built by Richmond Shipyards|Permanente Metals Corporation, Yard 2, of Richmond, California. The cargo ship was the 703rd ship built. The Ship was laid on March 28, 1945. The ship was christened on June 30, 1945. SS Northeastern Victory was an armed cargo ship named after a Northeastern University in Boston. She was built at the Oregon Shipbuilding yards in just 96 days. The 10,600-ton ship was constructed for the Maritime Commission. The American-Hawaiian SS Company operated her under the United States Merchant Marine act for the War Shipping Administration.Victory ships were designed to supersede the earlier Liberty Ships. Unlike Liberty ships, Victory ships were designed to serve the U.S. Navy after the war and also last longer. The Victory ship differed from a Liberty ship in that they were: faster, longer and wider, taller, and had a thinner stack set farther toward the superstructure. They also had a long raised forecastle. Northeastern Victory served in the Atlantic Ocean, taking supplies to troops still in Europe after Victory in Europe Day, on 8 May 1945.South Foreland Lighthouse
South Foreland Lighthouse is a Victorian lighthouse on the South Foreland in St. Margaret's Bay, Dover, Kent, England, used to warn ships approaching the nearby Goodwin Sands. It went out of service in 1988 and is currently owned by the National Trust. Another lighthouse had previously stood on the site since at least 1730 and during most of this time it was manned by the Knott family of lighthouse keepers.The Downs (ship anchorage)
The Downs are a roadstead (area of sheltered, favourable sea) in the southern North Sea near the English Channel off the east Kent coast, between the North and the South Foreland in southern England. In 1639 the Battle of the Downs took place here, when the Dutch navy destroyed a Spanish fleet which had sought refuge in neutral English waters. From the Elizabethan era onwards, the presence of the Downs helped to make Deal one of the premier ports in England, and in the 19th century, it was equipped with its own telegraph and timeball tower to enable ships to set their marine chronometers.
The anchorage has depths down to 12 fathoms (22 m). Even during southerly gales some shelter was afforded, though under this condition wrecks were not infrequent. Storms from any direction could also drive ships onto the shore or onto the sands, which—in spite of providing the sheltered water—were constantly shifting, and not always adequately marked.
The Downs served in the age of sail as a permanent base for warships patrolling the North Sea and a gathering point for refitted or newly built ships coming out of Chatham Dockyard, such as HMS Bellerophon, and formed a safe anchorage during heavy weather, protected on the east by the Goodwin Sands and on the north and west by the coast. The Downs also lie between the Strait of Dover and the Thames Estuary, so both merchant ships awaiting an easterly wind to take them into the English Channel and those going up to London gathered there, often for quite long periods. According to the Deal Maritime Museum and other sources, there are records of as many as 800 sailing ships at anchor at one time.In the present day, with the English Channel still the busiest shipping lane in the world, cross-Channel ferries and other ships still seek shelter here.The Lady from the Sea (1930 film)
The Lady from the Sea (1930) is a British romance film directed by Castleton Knight and starring Moore Marriott, Mona Goya, and Ray Milland.A fisherman working off the Goodwin Sands becomes romantically attached to an upper-class woman. The film was also known as Goodwin Sands. The film was originally released as a silent film, but was re-released in a sound film version.Walmer Lifeboat Station
Walmer Lifeboat Station was established in 1830. Over two thousand ships are believed to have been wrecked on the Goodwin Sands, and the masts of several wrecks are visible from the shore at low tide. Hence there have always been two lifeboats located at the joined towns of Deal and Walmer along the coast opposite the sands.