Thursday, 1 August 2013

Southport's Lifeboat Disaster Memorial

On December 9, 1886, the Hamburg-registered barque, Mexico, went aground near Southport, Lancashire. The local lifeboat, Eliza Fearnley was launched but when it arrive, the lifeboat was struck by heavy seas and capsized.

Two hours later, it was found three miles along the coast from Southport at Birkdale. Fourteen of the sixteen crew had perished. Wikipedia recounts: The two survivors, Henry Robinson and John Jackson, were trapped under the boat after the capsize and only survived by freeing themselves, swimming out and clinging onto the keel of the boat, then walking miles back to their homes and raising the alarm. One of them had tried and failed to rescue other comrades who were still trapped under the boat. Amazingly, four other men from the Southport boat initially survived the disaster subsequently could not be saved.

A second lifeboat, Laura Janet from St Anne's, had been launched but that too was lost. It was found beached in the morning with three dead bodies hanging on the thwarts with their heads downwards. All thirteen crew members were lost. The disaster remains the worst suffered by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution with 27 dead. Remarkably, a third lifeboat from Lytham reached the Mexico and rescued all 12 crew. The memorial pictured below stands in Southport's Duke Street Cemetery.


Bill Nicholls said...

Never seen a lifeboat memorial before find it quite sobering.

Anonymous said...

head to the fishermans rest pub , weld road birkdale. at that time the building was part of the birkdale palace hotel. the bodies of the lifeboat men were laid to rest in the building that is now the pub. it became a temporary morgue and is now the only part of the building left with the rest demolished. there are 14 mermaids at the bar to represent the 14 lost souls, and plaques re telling the tale around the pub.

Jo said...

I agree with Bill- very sobering. But it's a beautiful monument - and I'm glad care was taken with it to make it so striking.

TheresaHPIR said...

This is such a unique and beautiful monument, and such a tragic tale. Truly very interesting to read; thank you for sharing the story of these people.

Laurie said...

Thanks, everyone and ANON for directing me to the Fishermen's Rest for more information!

Jol Martyn-Clark said...

Hi Laurie,
Yes I photographed it too! Wonderful stonework. There are other memorials on the Fylde coast. I will endeavor to get them in some sort of order and post them up. Incidentally there is a grave to Eliza Fearnley in the Duke street cemetery.
Great work

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