The Seagull


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
5 km off Horsey Gap, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
5 km off Horsey Gap, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
National Grid Reference:


The Seagull is a rare example of a sail-assisted paddle steamer (a type of vessel that became obsolete in the mid-C19 century with the development of screw propeller driven vessels) built in 1848 in Belfast. The vessel had been used as a cargo transport for around 20 years before it sank in a collision in 1868.

Reasons for Designation

The Seagull, lying off Horsey Gap, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Period: The hybrid technology of the paddle steamer Seagull, using both sail and steam power, is highly representative of the mid-C19 period, which saw rapid development in steam technology; the Seagull demonstrating adaption of steam to sailing cargo vessels;

* Rarity: The Seagull is a rare early example of a sail assisted paddle steamer;

* Potential: In the absence of primary documentary sources, the Seagull offers the opportunity to study the hull form and machinery of an early steamship;

* Survival: Geophysical survey indicates that archaeologically significant features, such as the early compound engine, appear to survive within the wreck, and;

* Group value: With another early steam ship, The Xanthe (National Heritage List 1464587) also wrecked off Horsey Gap. Both the Seagull and the Xanthe were wrecked in collisions with other steam ships; the Seagull in 1868 and the Xanthe in 1869.


Seagull was built in 1848 in Belfast by Coates and Young at Lagan Foundry as an iron-built two-masted steam paddle schooner with a two-cylinder compound engine. The ship was a cargo vessel and had been used as a cargo transport for around 20 years before it sank in a collision in 1868. The wreck has been identified by the discovery of its bell, which was inscribed 'SEAGULL 1848'. The ship is a rare example of a sail-assisted paddle steamer, a type of vessel that became obsolete in the mid-C19 with the development of screw propeller driven vessels.

The C19 was an extremely important period in UK maritime history for the advancement of ship design and technological development. The century saw the revolutionary transition from sail to steam, from paddle to screw propeller, wood to iron and then steel, an enormous increase in the size of ships and the development of many specialist types of merchant vessel. The mid-C19 century was a particularly critical period in the adoption of new technologies.


The UK Hydrographic Office records that the Seagull was first reported in 1941 as a wreck with a spar showing above the water at low tide. In 1979 it was observed by side-scan sonar, in which the wreck appeared broken however, when last examined in 1983, side-scan sonar showed that the wreck stood some 9m proud of the seabed.

In 1994 divers reported finding the remains of paddle wheels, as well as metal hull plates and decking on the wreck. However, recent geophysical surveys conducted for the Norfolk Vanguard Offshore Wind Farm show that whilst partially disintegrated, the vessel remains upright and largely intact; still rising a significant height above the sea floor.

The Seagull is therefore of high archaeological and historical interest on the basis that it evidences a period of rapid development of steam technology and shows the adaptation of this technology to sailing cargo vessels. The Seagull is also an early example of an iron hulled vessel fitted with early compound engines.


Books and journals
Tikus, A (author), The Ship-Wrecks of North East Norfolk, (2004)
Wessex Archaeology (2018) Seagull; Undesignated Site Desk Based Assessment Report, ref 108281.16


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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