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North Yorkshire, England

Wreck of the MV Creteblock

The remains of the concrete ship can be seen during low tide.  

The name Creteblock seems rather strange for a vessel, but it’s extremely accurate for one that was essentially just a concrete block.

During and just after World War I, steel supply was scarce and several boats were constructed out of ferro-concrete (reinforced concrete). The MV Creteblock was built in Shoreham, West Sussex, in 1919 and was used as a harbor tug by Smiths Dock, Teeside, until about 1935 when it was taken to Whitby to be scrapped.

With all the useful material gradually removed, the vessel began deteriorating. In 1947, when it was being towed out to deep water to be scuttled, it sank on the shallow wave-cut platform of Whitby Scar, near Saltwick Nab. It was later blown up to reduce the hazard to other vessels, though they didn’t do a very good job and many large pieces were left.

This debris is exposed every day at low tide and is easily accessible. Over the years, the ruins have degenerated and the process seems to be accelerating. Every time there’s a particularly stormy winter, Creteblock becomes a little more broken. One day, all that will remain is a pile of concrete rubble.

While visiting, be sure to observe the wave-cut platform for a fantastic array of ammonite fossils. In the cliffs, you may be able to find small bits of fossilized tree fern which has formed the famous Whitby Jet, a gemstone used in jewelry.

There is the wreck of a more traditional vessel, the Rohilla, close by. It, too, is accessible at low tide.

Know Before You Go

Be careful with tide times as it is possible to get stranded. If driving you can park at the Abbey Headland Car Park. If using public transport you should walk up the 199 steps to the Abbey and walk along the cliffs. Train services to Whitby are not good from the south as you must travel via Middlesborough. It may be better to get a train to Scarborough and then catch a bus.