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Roraima House

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Roraima House

Roraima House was built in the 1890s by sea captain John Trattles and named after his steamship the SS Roraima. We are currently researching the good captain and his ship and will update this page as we discover new facts. Below is a transcript of a Naval Court that looked into an incident involving the SS Roraima in bad weather off the US coast.

The SS Roraima

Transcription (No. 951.)

FINDING of a Naval Court held at Her Britannic Majesty's Consulate-General, New York, on the 25th day of February, A.D. 1881, to enquire into the stranding of the steamship "RORAIMA" of London, official number 79,689, John Trattles, master, on the New Jersey coast, on the first of February 1881.


I. PIERREPONT EDWARDS, Esq., Her Britannic Majesty's Consul, President.

ROBERT WILLIAM GRACE (certificate 7,493), Master of the steamship "Spain, of Liverpool, O.N. 65,864.

HUGH YOUNG (certificate 23,043), Master of the steamship "Devonia," of Barrow, O.N. 76,879.

From the evidence in this case it appears that the "Roraima," an iron steamship of 761 tons, sailed from London on the 23rd December 1880, for New York via Demerara and Barbadoes in ballast. That she left Barbadoes on the 20th January, and on the 31st was approaching the North American coast.

At this time a strong north-easterly wind prevailed. At about half-past six o'clock Absecom Light on the New Jersey coast was seen, and at about ten o'clock Barnegal Light hove in sight. About two o'clock a.m. of the 1st February, what must have been the lights at Sandy Hook came in sight. After this the weather was variable with occasional thick squalls of snow. The speed of the vessel was lessened, and at times she was stopped, the lead being continually hove. During all this night the master did not quit the deck. At five o'clock a.m. the snow was still thick, and a sudden and violent gale from the north-east struck the vessel, and she in consequence failed to answer her helm, became unmanageable, and at half-past six stranded in what proved to be Ocean Beach shoals close to Shark River inlet. It appears that after the stranding the master, officers, and crew, exerted themselves under considerable difficulty to save the ship, which they eventually succeeded in doing, with damage, however, to the amount of about 3,000l. The vessel was subsequently brought to New York and there repaired.

We are of opinion that in view of the state of the weather, it would have been more prudent of Captain Trattles not to have approached so near the coast as he did, although in other respects we find that he took all usual precautions against danger. Under these circumstances, we confine ourselves to expressing our disapproval of his management of the vessel in this particular, and hereby censure the said John Trattles for not having kept his ship at a greater distance from the coast until such time as he might have approached it with greater impunity.

When you’re with us, look for the original 1881 Harper’s Weekly magazine article displayed behind glass in the hallway, complete with a pen and ink drawing of the stricken SS Roraima and a write-up of the above incident.

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