This wonderful bronze statue honours a seaman of great courage who saved many lives during one of the major sea-faring tragedies of the Victorian age.
His name was Ġużeppi Ruggier but he was more often known as Joe Rodgers, and he sailed on a clipper called the Royal Charter.
On the night of the October 25/26 1859 the ship was on the last leg of a trip from Melbourne to Liverpool when it was caught in a terrible storm.
In winds in excess of 100 mph the Royal Charter was blown towards Anglesey’s rocky coast.
The ship sent out distress signals but the conditions were so atrocious that the Moelfre lifeboat could not be launched.
Ruggier volunteered to swim ashore with a rope.
Amazingly, the Malta-born sailor reached the rocks to be hauled out of the sea by men from Moelfre.
His rope was used to rig a bosun’s chair and slowly the rescuers began to bring passengers and crew to safety.
They had saved thirty-nine people when the storm broke the ship apart. It is believed that more than four hundred perished.
The Royal Charter was carrying large quantities of gold bullion from the Australian gold rush and its loss became a huge news story at the time.
Ruggier was honoured by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (the RNLI). He went back to sailing and died in Liverpool in 1897, aged 68.
The bronze memorial was unveiled at Moelfre in 2009 on the 150th anniversary of the tragedy. It was created by Sam Holland.
The inscription on it reads, ‘Joe Rodgers, A hero of the Royal Charter.’
Underneath is a Maltese Cross.
When I visited Moelfre, the weather was very different. A great place; a coastline of beauty where nature can be most cruel.
2 thoughts on “A hero of the Royal Charter”
What about the gold bullion? Is it still there at the bottom of the sea?
I believe some of it is. Some was reportedly ‘saved’ by local people.
Some of the gold was found in 2011: