In the early hours of 7th September 1838, Grace Darling (1815-1842) looked out of her window at Longstone Lighthouse and saw a dark shape in the distance near one of the rocks. Believing it to be a ship, Grace woke her father, and the pair kept an eye on it through the telescope. For hours, they saw nothing until around 7 am, Grace finally spotted some movement on one of the rocks. The storm was still raging, and William knew it would be too difficult for the lifeboat in North Sunderland to sail out to sea. Grace pleaded with her father to do something, suggesting they take their rowing boat, which they had with them at the lighthouse. Before he could refuse, Grace was already getting into the boat.

Father and daughter rowed towards the wreckage. On reaching the rock, they found nine survivors of the wrecked SS Forfarshire. The ship was a paddle steamer that set sail from Hull on 5th September. After the boiler failed, the ship struggled to find land during the storm and struck a rock near the Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland, England. At least 43 people died when the ship sunk.

Grace was rewarded for her actions and many people sent her presents and monetary donations, including the young Queen Victoria. For the rest of her life, thousands of people tried to get a glimpse of the girl who put her life at risk to save others. Unfortunately, Grace struggled with the fame, and her final years before succumbing to tuberculosis were full of anxiety.

More Info: