Memories of Sutton Bridge dock collapse

Centenary celebrations at Sutton Bridge Golf Club in 2014. Photo: SG180214-128TW
Centenary celebrations at Sutton Bridge Golf Club in 2014. Photo: SG180214-128TW
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Sutton Bridge veteran seafarer Captain Ingram died a hundred years ago, aged 96.

His death brought back memories of a disaster in the village 35 years earlier – the collapse of Sutton Bridge Docks.

After being “apprenticed to a seafaring life” early on, Captain Ingram held a master’s certificate by the age of 21.

Captain Ingram sailed his first charge out of the River Nene for timber merchants Messrs English Bros and was involved in the timber carrying business for many years.

When the dock was constructed, Captain Ingram was appointed dockmaster, and “the district of Sutton Bridge was looking forward with high hopes to the completion of an enterprise which was to bring with it a wide reaching prosperity.”

Ahead of the formal opening, the dock was actually opened “with some ceremony and rejoicing” on May 14, 1881, by the trial entry of the Garland, a vessel belonging to Mr H H English.

Captain Ingram was in charge of the Garland, which was decorated with flags in honour of the day, and piloted it safely through the lock, and a short service was held.

However, just four weeks later, on Sunday, June 14, the dock “suddenly showed signs of collapse. There were indications of a serious subsidence at the entrance lock, and the undermining of the foundations of the dock walls”.

The subsidence continued to develop and the dock collapsed.

By the time of the report 100 years ago the dock was instead serving as a golf course.

Captain Ingram had lived at Sutton Bridge for 35 years and at the time of his death was the oldest inhabitant. He was said he to be good health until a few days before his death.