The Duke of Westminster's Accident (1910)

Accident to the Duke of Westminster

The Duke of Westminster had an accident in the Solent off Cowes yesterday afternoon, when out for a trial run in his new fast 40-foot hydroplane. In addition to the Duke there were on board the hydroplane Mr. Robins, representative of a motor company, and two engineers.

The hydroplane was traveling at high speed, and then about a mile out from East Cowes she capsized, apparently during an attempt to turn. The Duke and others on board were thrown into the water, and being handicapped by their heavy clothing, were in some danger. The Duke was supported in the water by Mr. Robins until the arrival of his motor-boat, which was speedily followed by launches from the yachts in the roads and the coastguard boat. All the men were taken on board the motor-boat, Mr. Robins being somewhat exhausted. The hydroplane sank after drifting in the strong current for some distance. The vessel, which is valued at over £3,000, was launched only on Saturday from Messrs. Saunders & Co.’s yard at East Cowes, and had been specially built to represent Great Britain in international races in America next month. The position of the sunken hydroplane was found later and a diver from a Danish salvage vessel went down to make an examination.

Colonel Wilford Lloyd, private secretary to the Duke, last night stated that the two mechanics and Mr. Robins reached the upturned hydroplane, to which they clung, but the Duke of Westminster, weighed down by a big mackintosh, and a comforter round his neck, was unable to make headway against the tide, and was washed out to sea for 50 yards or so. He was seen to sink one, and then Mr. Robins, noticing that he was in distress, left the hydroplane and swam out to him. The Duke’s launch, the Laxford, which was following, was then within 100 yards of the upturned hydroplane. Just as Mr. Robins reached the Duke he again went under, but was pulled to the surface, and without delay both men were dragged into the launch. The Duke was unconscious, and it was only after artificial respiration had been tried that he showed signs of sensibility.

The Duke traveled later to London, not much the worse for his experience.

(Transcribed from the Times of London, July 11, 1910, p. 15.)

*  *  *

The Duke of Westminster’s Accident

Mr. Robins who was in charge of the Duke of Westminster’s hydroplane when the accident happened off Cowes on Sunday, said yesterday that it was hardly correct to say that the Duke went under twice. They were thrown into the water and the hydroplane drifted about 30 yards away from them. He told them all to swim for the hydroplane, whose bow was floating towards the sky. The two mechanics reached her, but the Duke of Westminster, who was wearing a complete set of waterproof covering, had difficulty in keeping up. Mr. Robins was able to divest himself of his own oilskin jacket, which buttoned up in front, and then went to the Duke’s assistance. The Duke’s motor-boat Laxford was only about a quarter of a mile away, and immediately went to them and threw out a lifebuoy attached to a line. Mr. Robins got one arm through it and then put his arms around the Duke. They both went under together, but were pulled up by the line and taken on board the Laxford. Mr. Robins added that it was a very close thing. But for the prompt arrival of the motor-boat they would probably have been drowned.

He said the hydroplane had a speed of 50 miles per hour, and was quite an experiment, having more powerful engines than had ever been attempted in any other hydroplane. They were all aware of the great risk they were running.

The hydroplane was last night towed to the East Cowes shore, and there pumped out. Her machinery and portions of the hull have been damaged, and her steering wheel and shaft are missing.

(Transcribed from the Times of London, July 12, 1910, p. 15.)

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page --LF]

Hydroplane History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010 .
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at
© Leslie Field, 2003