Loss of the barge Stanley with the loss of four lives 1908

Manchester Guardian Dec 12th 1908

Four bargemen drowned

Unaccountable capsizing of a Mersey barge

Four lives were lost in the river Mersey yesterday through the capsizing of a barge. The weather was tempestuous and there was a heavy sea.

The barge Stanley owned by the Liverpool Barge and Coal Company, capsized and sank in mid-river whilst proceeding from Birkenhead to the Liverpool Docks in tow of the tugs Knight Errant and Knight Templar. The cause of the calamity is not definitely known. Other barges of the same company were moved across the river during the day in safety.

Three of the crew of seven were rescued their names being Samuel EDGERSON, William GIBSON and Owen JONES all of Liverpool. The remaining four perished, two being below at the time and two on deck.

The barge had been on the Mersey for seven years, and had crossed the river more than a thousand times without mishap.

Interview with a survivor

Later particulars regarding the sinking of the coal barge yesterday showed that the barge was crossing from Birkenhead to Canada Dock to coal one of the big liners she was carrying 800 tons of coal. No danger was apprehended from the rough, buffeting waves until midstream was reached, at a point between the Seacombe and Egremont ferries. There the barge became broadside on to both wind and waves, heeled over, filled with water, capsized and sank. Three men were on deck at the time, and as the barge heeled over they were flung into the water. They clung to floating deck fittings, debris of the wreck, but had an exceedingly trying time. The prevailing conditions made the work of rescue difficult. The attendant tugs had let go of the tow rope directly the barge went over, and they thus prevented a probable extension of the disaster, and their crews at once set about to pick up the men who were afloat. The four men below had not the slightest chance of escape.

Captain EDGAR in describing the experience, said the vessel was taking such heavy seas that special efforts were made to secure the gear about deck. Then there came a sudden gust of great violence, and the barge went over and he with it. He was clinging to the wreckage for an hour and a quarter before he was rescued. The barge was in good repair and not overloaded, her carrying capacity being 200 tons more than the load she had.

The owners say they have no knowledge of the cause of the accident.

The names of the men drowned are Henry BENT and William BENSON, seamen, Alfred GRIST, cook, and John JACKSON, fireman, all of Liverpool.

The Times Dec 12th 1908

Yesterday afternoon, as the elevator barge Stanley belonging to the Liverpool Barge and Coaling Company was crossing the Mersey from Birkenhead to Liverpool in tow of the tug Errant she suddenly capsized owing it is believed to the exploding of a boiler. She immediately sank with her crew of seven and cargo of coal. A boat was immediately put out from the tug and succeeded in rescuing three members of the crew, who were conveyed to the stage and later were able to return to their homes, apparently little the worse from their experience. Four of the crew are still missing last night but their names have not yet been ascertained. There was a high wind blowing at the time and a big swell. The barge was making for the Canada Dock at the time of the mishap, the accident occurred in mid-stream. The boat was fully insured

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Board of Trade

Wreck Report for 'Stanley', 1909

Report of Court.

The Court having carefully inquired into the circumstances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds for the reasons stated in the Annex hereto, that the loss of the "Stanley" and the loss of life which ensued were due to an error of judgment on the part of Capt. William Steen in allowing the "Stanley" to proceed on her voyage across the Mersey under such unfavourable conditions of wind and weather as prevailed on the afternoon of the 11th December. 1908

Dated this 17th day of March, 1909.

Board of Trade report

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