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Cover and pages from 'The Wreck of the Racehors
  “Racehorse was therefore under sail, in the dark, in an increasingly heavy sea, under the
control of a Pilot who didn’t know where he was, how far away the land was, or what
the lights he could see on shore meant. ”
The Wreck of the Racehorse, page 8
 
 
blank top
   pic from the front cover of the wreck of the racehorse  
 
The Wreck of the Racehorse
 
  We did something for this book
which we’ve never done before.
We commissioned a painting.
 
  Historically, Racehorse is a very
important ship, particularly for the
Isle of Man. Her fate and that of
Vigilant (for more details, see the
book) prompted William Hillary to
found what became the Royal
National Lifeboat Institute, the RNLI.
 
  However, for the British government,
the wrecking of Racehorse was a PR
disaster as she was the second British
ship to be wrecked in Manx waters
within two months and, furthermore,
had been sent to escort the first
casualty, Vigilant, home. The Royal
Navy wanted to draw a veil over the
sorry episode, so there are no clear
contemporary paintings of Racehorse,
either in her prime or gallantly
fighting the encompassing sea.
  But we needed a picture of the ship
for the cover.
  We’d already come across Manx artist
Anthea Radcliffe both from her work
with an earlier Loaghtan Books
publication I Never Wanted a Pub…,
and because she’d designed some
particularly attractive Manx stamps.
So we got in touch.
  The result is the picture on the front
cover of The Wreck of the Racehorse.
Anthea listened carefully to the story
of the heroism of the men from
Castletown, and made that the subject
of her painting. We hadn’t expected
that. We’d expected the sailing ship
to feature more largely. But Anthea
was right and we were wrong.
The volunteers struggling to propel
their little rescue boat, and the
expressions on their faces, emphasise
the human drama of the wreck,
which the ship alone could not.
  The Wreck of the Racehorse
By Brian King

image of a diver from'The Wreck of the Racehorse'

Occasionally a book comes along which matters.

We’d like to think that most of the books we
publish are interesting, even educational in
a modest way, but only one or two of them really
make a difference. This is one of them.

Racehorse was an eighteen-gun sailing ship,
a sloop of war, in the early nineteenth century.
On 14 December 1822, on what should have been
a routine visit Racehorse wrecked on a rocky reef
off the southern coast of the Isle of Man.

The efforts of the Manxmen of Castletown to
save those on board proved to be a catalyst in
the founding of what became Royal National
Lifeboat Institute, the RNLI.

image of a diver from'The Wreck of the Racehorse'




One hundred and fifty years later a group of
volunteer divers from the Isle of Man
rediscovered the wreck and began the slow
process of underwater excavation.

image of brass artillery from'The Wreck of the Racehorse'

Written by one of the divers who found the
wreck, and including documents such as the
captain’s report to the admiralty, and the
minutes of the crew’s court martial, this book
offers an unrivalled view of an unparalleled
event in maritime history.

Pieced together from evidence in contemporary
documents and backed up by artefacts found on
the seabed The Wreck of the Racehorse tells the
story of how HMS Racehorse was lost –
and found.


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