A few years later a young solicitor (Joshua Rowntree) told of the wreck of the Mary on 26 October 1869, in a letter written that night. He had left his office at the end of the day's work and found a crowd of people between the Grand Hotel and Cliff Bridges gates, talking of a ship ashore. He rushed on to the south end of the Spa in blinding hail and sleet.
The gas pipe on top of the Spa Tower had been cut and a great flame was tossing wildly in the wind... Great foaming waves were dashing against the cliffs. I found another man, wishful to go farther so got over the fence and we helped one another round the slippery clay projections to Jabez's cottage....
We judged we must be getting near Holbeck, when the darkness was suddenly rent by a great meteor flash, and from some spot a few yards away, a rocket rushed blazing out to the sea. Then in the glare of its track we saw at one or two hundreds of yards distance, a heavily laden schooner, with a few picth black sails still set, rolling fearfully on the rocks. Each successive wave of foam as it came charging over the black waters, broke right over the hull.
She lay obliquely to the ravine where the coastguards were working by the light of three lanterns.
When we reached the party a stentorian voice shouted:"Have you got it?" A quavering voice came back on the wind "Noa," and the disappointment was very great. Many minutes passed and another rocket shot out into the storm. It was one of the newly invented ones and carried right beyond the ship, but a sailor by me groaned
"It's missed again, the wind has such purchase..."
Meanwhile a third rocket was sent with no better result. It seemed now as if hope was gone. The schooner was slowly edging further south as the sea rose round her. So we all had a further climb amongst furze brushes and treacherous clay to a ravine more directly opposite her. She lay for a time broadside on, exactly right for a rocket, but the apparatus was gone and the horses had been sent to Filey for another. It seemed very unlikely that the poor coaster could stand the violence of the sea much longer.
A great bonfire had now been lighted and by its flare one or two of the crew could be seen clinging to the rigging, for the deck was swept by the billows. I never spent a more impatient two hours than those which now succeeded. The ravine we stood in was a marsh, the top of the rocks was slippery and too exposed to be safe, and many men tried to shelter themselves by lying down under the North side. When gusts stirred the smouldering embers into ablaze, you could see them lying in rows in the hollow, with a black fridge of human beings lining the top of the cliff. The scene was weird, and the harrowing part of it was the dim, dark spectre of the doomed vessel and the cries of agony that reached us between the roaring of the tempest.
Now and then we heard a distinct word imploring us for help. One voice was pitched in a higher key and men said there's a boy on board of her... at last a great shout went up that told of the arrival of fresh gear, and a general cheer followed the quick discharge of the rocket, and then an unmistakable "No" came again from the wreck and more painful cries were heard. After some delay and after another rocket was prepared, a different shout came from the ship, bringing hope at last.
We could hear the words "The rope." With a cheer and a rush we all seized the line and pulled the large hawser out of the ship. Joyfully the cage and breeches were fitted on and sent sliding along it to the wreck; and joyfully we hauled in feeling that it pulled heavy. "Gently", shouted Evans the chief coastguard, for we were hauling in like wild men. A black object showed above the white surf, swinging heavily as it neared the cliff, and the first man was landed into the arms of men shouting cheers that even the storm could not drown.
From Rowntree's 'History of Scarborough'. Page 195-196