Answer to 150-year gold watch mystery in Romford?

MISSING treasure, shipwrecks and Chinese pirates: it is a 150-year-old mystery that wouldn’t be out of place in a Pirates of the Caribbean plotline.

But could the answer lie in Romford? One man thinks so.

Amateur historian Philip Boulton, from Lincolnshire, is a man on a mission to find a gold watch.

His great-great-great uncle Joseph Jewell and wife Mary were two of only 10 survivors of a sea disaster which saw The General Grant dashed off the coast of the Australian coast in May 1866 - with the loss of 73 lives.

The castaways spent 18 months awaiting rescue on the Auckland Islands and afterwards leader James Teer was presented with a gold watch in recognition of his services to the group.

Teer decided to send the memento to his sister Margaret Bishop in Islington, north London, with officer Richard Gould onboard a British vessel, the Tartar.

However, this ship too ran into trouble off the Hong Kong coast, where it was delivering cargo, and the valuables on board - including the gold watch - were snatched by Chinese pirates.

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Amazingly 40 years later in 1910 the watch was returned to the British consulate in Fuzhou by a recent Christian convert who had suffered an attack of conscience.

From there it made its way back to the Gould family, living in Northern Ireland, and finally, following a dispute between the families, into the hands of the Teers in 1948.

However - apart from a sighting in a book on the wreck in 1974 - the watch has once again disappeared.

But 68-year-old Philip believes he has traced the watch to a Val James, who worked for a Romford solicitors in 1985.

“A member of the Teer family told me that this was the last person to have the watch. But the trail has gone cold.

“It’s such a fantastic story. I have been interested in it since 1968 and probably have the biggest collection of memorabilia; I’d really like to track the watch down and complete the story.”

Anyone with information can email: or call: 07738496017

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