In the terrific hurricane that prevailed on Friday morning, Dec. 3rd, 1909, the s.s. Ellen Vannin of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's fleet, went down with all hands, in some thirty feet of water (at low water), about a mile or more on the Liverpool side of the Mersey Bar.
At about twelve minutes past one o'clock on Friday morning, the steamer left Ramsey Harbour bound for Liverpool, carrying passengers, mails, and cargo. At the time of departure there was blowing a strong breeze, from north-west, but there was nothing in the weather to delay the sailing of the steamer. But about an hour and a half after the Ellan Vannin had proceeded on Lee voyage, the wind very suddenly increased to almost tornado force, the gusts being the most severe that have been experienced for several years past. With the rising of the wind the sea ran in fearful fashion, but as it was aft of the Ellan Vannin no anxiety was felt at the headquarters of the company, the vessel having on many occasions come safely through ordeals quite as bad, if not worse. When, however, telegrams arrived late on in the day announcing that the Ellen Vannin had not reached her port of destination, considerable anxiety was expressed, though the officials at Douglas hoped that nothing worse had happened the steamer than a compulsory run for shelter. There was a constant inter-change of wires between Douglas and Liverpool, and by five o'clock in the after-noon it was recognised that a serious situation had arisen. Mr W. M. Corkill, the manager of the company, summoned the directors to a meeting, and further efforts were made to elucidate the mystery attendant upon the non-arrival of the vessel in Liverpool. At about seven o'clock a telegram was received at the office which caused a feeling of consternation. It was to the effect that during the day the crew of the Formby Lightship had seen floating in the Mersey channel lifebuoys inscribed " Ellan Vannin," several dead sheep, and a quantity of turnips. A portion of the cargo of the steamer consisted of live sheep and turnips, and the flotsam in question gave rise to the fear that the steamer had foundered. More disquieting still was the picking up by the lightship crew of a mail basket, which was sent to the Birkenhead Post Office, and, on being opened; was found to contain letters despatched from Ramsey. The news quickly leaked out, and was spread by word of mouth and telephone all over the Island, the result being general consternation and mourning. Among those whose friends and relatives were on board the fated vessel, hope, died hard. Wreckage of all kinds was being washed ashore during Friday evening and Saturday morning, but they still clung to the possibility of the vessel being afloat somewhere in a derelict condition. The steamer carried no deck cargo, so that the wreckage that was seen floating in the Mersey was dislodged from the holds and saloon of the vessel; but there were those who still refused to believe that the worst had happened, and it was not until Saturday afternoon that all hope was abandoned. Then the Mersey Docks Board's boats brought tidings of having located the wrecked vessel in the position above-mentioned.
The Ellan Vannin, it would seem, rode into the Mersey Channel before an 80-mile gale, She probably passed the Bar Lightship in safety at about 7 o'clock, and entered the "gut," as this part of the channel is called. Here an outgoing tide of five-mile-an-hour was met with. It would come harder through the narrow gut than anywhere; it would here meet the seas that the gale was driving along— a five-mile-an-hour tide fighting against an eighty-mile-an-hour wind. The waters would seethe and bubble, and the poor Ellan Vannin would drive right into the thick of it. It is quite useless to speculate as to the cause of the foundering of the vessel ; but the fact remains that it is one of the worst disasters our annals bear record of.
THIRTY-FIVE PERSONS DROWNED.
The death-roll is appalling. And what makes the catastrophe the more heart-rending is the fact that in nearly every case families are dependent on those who have been drowned. The passengers who lost their lives in the disaster numbered fourteen. They were as follow: —
Mr MARK H. JOUGHIN, Ballawhannell, Bride; who is unmarried.
Mr W. E. HIGGINBOTHAM, Trafalgar Hotel, Ramsey ; leaving a widow and several children.
Mr and Mrs HEATON JOHNSON, Beaconsfield Tower, Ramsey ; leaving three children.
Mr. R. NEWELL, stonemason, of 67 Hampton-road, Croydon, Surrey; leaving one son.
Mr W. WILLIAMS, 12 Walgrave-terrace, Earl's Court Road, London; who is thought to be unmarried.
Mrs W. CRIX and child, College-street, Ramsey; leaving a husband and father.
Miss NELLIE FISHER, servant, Queen's Hotel, Ramsey.
Mr E. J. BLEVIN, accountant, Douglas and Liverpool; leaving a widow and two children.
Mr THOMAS HENRY QUAYLE, Pear-tree Cottage, Andrews; leaving a widow and two children.
Mrs JOHN ALLEN and son, of 14 Slater-street, Liverpool, and Hawthorn Cottage, Maughold ; leaving husband and children.
Miss LOUIE FINDLAY, 83 Gray Hill Road, Well Hill, Eltham, Kent.
The following is a complete list of the crew: —
JAMES TEARE, master, Palatine-road, Douglas; leaving a widow and four children
JOHN CRAINE, mate, Leigh - terrace, Douglas; leaving a widow and five children.
JOHN KINLEY, second mate, Surby, Port Erin; unmarried.
J CUNNINGHAM, carpenter, Mona-terrace, Douglas; leaving a widow and five children.
J. COOK, seaman, Peel; leaving a widow and three children.
J. BENSON, seaman, 13 King-street, Ramsey; leaving a widow and four children.
T. CORKISH, seaman, 15 Church-street, Ramsey ; leaving a widow and four children.
W. KELLY, seaman, Mill-street; Castletown; leaving a widow and six children.
J CRAWLEY,[sic James Lambert Crowley] seaman, Buck's - road, Douglas; leaving a widow and eight children.
A. CLAGUE, seaman, 1 Barrack street, Douglas; leaving a widow and five children.
E. BELLISS, chief engineer, 43 Dyson-street, Walton, Liverpool; leaving a widow and one child.
F. CRAINE, second engineer, Wynton Villa, Laureston - road, Douglas; leaving a widow and one child.
S. RYDINGS, donkeyman, Big House, South Quay, Douglas; leaving a widow and four children.
W. SHIMMIN, donkeyman, Waterloo-road, Ramsey; leaving a widow and four children.
WALTER CANNELL, fireman, 4 Duke's-road, Douglas; leaving a widow.
J. C. TAUBMAN, fireman, Bigwell-street, Douglas; leaving a widow and two children.
J CRELLIN, fireman, Glenvine, Crosby; leaving a widow and three children. Cabin Department.
T. STUBBS, chief steward, Liverpool; leaving a widow and six children.
BERT HOLLAND, second steward, Head-road; Douglas; leaving a widow and one child.
E. BURKE, cook, Derby-road, Douglas; leaving a son and a daughter.
Mrs CALLISTER, stewardess, Glenvine, Crosby; leaving one son.
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