With Greg away I find that I have the island all to myself, but don’t worry I’m not short of company. This morning I've already discussed the weather with the dog, politics with the sheep and the price of corn with the chickens!

It’s strange being the only human on Ramsey and with a SE gale blowing the chances of someone turning up and knocking on the door are virtually zero. Mind you that’s exactly what farmer Ivor Arnold thought one morning back in 1908 when he too was alone on the island.

Cargo Steamship Szent Istvan

It was a very foggy morning in September, what we would call a ‘pea-souper’. Ivor was up early doing his chores when something unexpected happened. Ivor’s actual diary from that day takes up the story;

‘I was chopping up sticks in the house when three men came to the door at 7am. They had a hatchet and a long knife in their hands, which I couldn't help keeping an eye on. They were jabbering something which I couldn't understand, so I brought them an Atlas and they pointed out Fiume in Austria and from there to Lisbon and then to Ramsey.

I came to the conclusion they were shipwrecked on the island. These three men landed (Aber Mawr) and lost their boat. I went out with them to look for the rest of the crew and found them at 10am. They had landed (in the NE corner of the island) and moored their three boats there. The men had lost everything. I gave them tea and two loaves of bread, 1Ib butter which included all I had. They ate it ravenously, though sad to say some of the youngest boys had none.

It was a pity to see them wet to the skin, two of them with no boots and six with no caps. The chief engineer was crying awfully’

The sailors’ boat ‘The Szent Istvan’, was bound for Glasgow when it was wrecked off the south-west coast of Ramsey at 2am on 28 September 1908. She was an impressive 285 feet long and weighed over 2,000 tons. Remarkably no lives were lost that night with the entire crew of 27 able to save themselves in their own boats. Salvage attempts on the wreck itself were abandoned due to the treacherous conditions but the boats’ cargo of flour and soup continued to wash ashore around the coast of St Brides bay for many weeks, much of which was collected by local people.

Bits of the wreck still lie 11 meters down on the seabed off Ramsey's coastline. The large prop and the steamship's boiler rise up 6 meters into the water.

I’m not sure that I would have stayed as calm as Ivor when confronted by three bedraggled men, gesticulating and clutching knives!  I’m just hoping that my time alone is a little less exciting than his.

Anonymous