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The MV Creteblock Shipwreck And How You Can Visit It

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The remains of the MV Creteblock Shipwreck in Whitby can be seen at low tide. We visited it to take photos and learn more about this Shipwreck…here’s what we discovered.

We know what you’re thinking. A concrete ship? That’s just not possible. Too heavy. Stones don’t float. Well, turns out, sometimes, they do! During the Great War metal and other materials were in short supply. Ingenious engineers and shipwrights were desperate to find a way to construct much needed military vessels, they often used reinforced concrete. The MV Creteblock is a great example of this.

MV Creteblock at Saltwick Bay

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History of the MV Creteblock

The MV Creteblock was built in 1919 in Shoreham, West Sussex. The history of the ship’s life is patchy but it is known that this concrete ship was purchased by Smiths Dock in Teeside where it was used as a harbour tug. In 1935 the MV Creteblock was taken to Whitby to be scrapped. The ship was stripped of everything of value and over time, gradually began to deteriorate.

MV Creteblock Remains

In 1947 the decision was taken to scuttle the MV Creteblock. Scuttling is when a ship is sunk deliberately. In its dilapidated state the MV Creteblock had served its time and was destined for the Great Ship Graveyard At The Bottom Of The North Sea.

Accident on Whitby Scar

During towing out to be scuttled the MV Creteblock struck Whitby Scar in shallow water. This notorious stretch of water under the Abbey cliff claimed the MV Creteblock and the vessel broke up.

MV Creteblock Remains

In a desperate attempt to clear up the debris of the cursed ship, the MV Creteblock was blown up with dynamite. These efforts were only partially successful as you can see the MV Creteblock Shipwreck is one of the most prominent of the Whitby Shipwrecks.

How to see or visit the MV Creteblock

The easy way to visit the wreck is to walk at low tide from Whitby’s Tate Hill beach towards Saltwick Bay. Equally this walk in reverse is just as effective. Every day at low tide the shipwreck of the MV Creteblock is revealed. Whether you’re walking along the Cleveland Way Trail at the top of the cliffs or pottering along the beach from Whitby to Saltwick Bay, you’ll see the MV Creteblock shipwreck in its full glory. As the years press on the constant battering of the North Sea is slowly destroying the MV Creteblock shipwreck. One day, all that will remain will be a collection of unidentifiable concrete structures.

MV Creteblock Low Tide

Tides change on a daily basis please check tide times before heading out to visit the wreck. It is possible to see the wreck from the Cleveland Way on the clifftop walking between Whitby Abbey and Saltwick Bay. This spot is particularly popular for finding fossils and ammonite. All along the cliff, it’s possible to find pieces of fossilised pine tree, the source of Whitby Jet.


If you’re keen to visit by car the best thing to do is to park at Whitby Abbey. You can read about other car parks here.

Walk the loop

Walk too MV Creteblock

From the Abbey, you can walk down the 199 Steps to Tate Hill Beach and along the beach. If you want the double whammy and fancy a longer walk you could head towards Saltwick Bay, walk down the steps and follow the beach over Saltwick Nab until you reach the wreck. Linking both routes will result in a loop walk.

Have you visited the MV Creteblock Shipwreck? Leave us a comment below.

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12 thoughts on “The MV Creteblock Shipwreck And How You Can Visit It”

  1. Hi , My dad was one of the main organisers to re float the creteblock and scuttle her deep sea. Your account of how she ended up on the scar is not accurate. I have to my knowledge the only picture of her the next day, with my dad stood next to her.

  2. We’ve visited Whitby for years and never knew this existed until today when we walked on the beach at low tide. Got some lovely pictures.

  3. OMG saw this today!..for about the 10th time in as many years.
    Got some good pics.
    Ha always thought it was The Rohilla???

  4. Have been visiting Whitby for 30 odd years and today 20/10/2020 is the first time I have ever seen this. I have never caught the tide right. I was so excited to explore a part of the beach I have never been able to before.

  5. Hi Cliff. I am in the middle of writing a book about the ‘Crete Fleet’ and what would be amazing is if you could share your Dad’s account of what happened that day! I find a few parts of the story difficult to corroborate – for example, why would Smith’s Dock be acquiring a steam engine powered single screw tug in say the mid-1920’s earliest and how come Crete Shipping Company were the Registered owners on Lloyd’s list in every year up to and including the year she was dismantled! As I said, I would love to hear the true story of how she came to be wrecked..:

    • Are you still writing your book
      My grandad Capitan Brearly
      Helped sail the ship out but the current pushed her towards the scare then hit the shelf

      • Hi Mike. Just spotted your comment. I am putting the finishing touches to it ! It is something of a tome, covering 73 British concrete ships of the WW1 era. So Captain Brearly was on the voyage, towing an unpowered hulk which probably didn’t have any steering gear, and it struck Whitby Scar due to the current ?

  6. Remember visiting Cretablock in the mid 1960s. It was a lot more ship shaped then. You could read its name cast in the concrete. No pics unfortunately, no camera in those days.

  7. I’ve shot at Whitby walking towards Saltwick bay quite a few times and wondered what that was in the sea, great to get info one it and I also read about about the Saltwick ship wreck which I have photographed, great to know the facts about them too – cheers Dave


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