Model of sunk Sunderland steam ship sells for £11,250

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A MODEL of an ill-fated 1930s Sunderland-built steam ship – which sank after she was torpedoed for the second time during the Second World War – has sold for £11,250 at an auction.

The four-feet-long model of the SS Eskdene was built by Bartram & Sons at Sunderland in 1934, along with the ship itself.

Five years later, on December 7, 1939, the vessel was torpedoed off the mouth of the Tyne.

Fortunately, her cargo of Norwegian timber prevented her from sinking and she was successfully towed to port and repaired.

Then, less than two years later, on April 8, 1941, she was torpedoed by the German submarine, U 107, 200 miles off the Azores.

Captain William Thomas and her 38 crew had been allowed to abandon ship beforehand and were rescued by the SS Penhale.

According to auctioneers Bonhams: “The Eskdene shares the dubious distinction of being the first ship sunk in the most successful U Boat cruise of the Second World War.

“U107’s cruise, from March 29 to June 1, 1941, is recorded as the largest haul by any U boat Commander: fourteen ships with a total of 86,699 tons, were sent to the bottom.”

The German submarine was eventually sunk with all hands in the Bay of Biscay on August 14, 1944 – the killer blow was struck by depth charges from a Sunderland aircraft.

Lionel Willis, a marine models expert at Bonhams, said: “Dockyard or builder’s models of newly constructed vessels are very popular with collectors, especially from the period between the wars, when the quality of finish and the detailing were of high quality. This lavish attention to detail, which can be seen on this model of a Sunderland steam ship, reflects the pride of workmanship at the shipyard. It would have taken a principal place in the owner’s boardroom.”

The model of the SS Eskdene had been expected to sell for between £6,000 and £8,000 before being snapped up by an overseas buyer.