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.)