Loss the ship JUNO, in the Mersey, 1884

Liverpool Mercury, 29th Jan 1884

The recent gales

Wreck of the JUNO and loss of life

The Iron ship JUNO, 1450 tons left the Alfred Dock, Birkenhead on Monday the 21st inst for Calcutta laden with salt. She was in tow of the steam tug Guiding Star, and the weather was fine. Before the Northwest Lightship was reached, however, a stiff gale sprang up and the Guiding Star and the JUNO slipped the tow rope simultaneously in order to avoid collision with the Lightship. Nothing more was heard of the JUNO until Thursday morning last, when a report reached Liverpool that she had anchored in Moelfra Bay. An intimation was subsequently received by the owner Mr Donald KENNEDY of India Buildings, Water St, from Point Lynas to the effect that she had been seen in tow of the tug Great Emperor. The statement of the master of the Great Emperor was that when he found the JUNO in Moelfra Bay, she was riding with both anchors down, most of her sails having been blown away. Late in the afternoon he took the vessel in tow, and towed her till the next forenoon against tremendous waves and a heavy gale. It was then evident that the intention of the captain of the JUNO was to stand out for sea. The tow rope parted but the Great Emperor remained for some time by the ship and proffered assistance. In the meantime the captain of the JUNO had bent a fore and main topsail with a storm spanker, and thinking the tug boat could not help him much, stood on his course. The Great Emperor returned to Liverpool on Saturday night.

A storm of exceptional severity swept over the Irish Sea on Saturday morning, and continued on Sunday, and driven back by wind and waves the JUNO tried to make for Liverpool. Early yesterday morning signals of distress were exhibited by the ship which had gone ashore on the dangerous spot known as Taylor’s Bank. The Liverpool Lifeboat No 2, and the New Brighton Lifeboat, the former in tow of the steamer Cruiser, and in charge of Captain Martin went out but owing to the state of the sea, which moved with tremendous force, and to the force of the wind, neither boat was able to approach within a mile of the distressed vessel. Lifeboat No 2 returned to the landing stage shortly after noon, and two hours later again proceeded to the mouth of the river towed by the Dock Board tender Vigilant, while the New Brighton boat was taken out at the same time by the tug Fiery Cross. The tug Iron Duke came alongside the landing stage about 1.30pm and her master reported having seen the disabled vessel, with several men clinging to the fore and main masts. As some doubt existed as to the identity of the JUNO, Captain STARKIE the owners overlooked, travelled to Crosby in the afternoon in obedience to instructions from Mr KENNEDY. The keepers of the Crosby Lighthouse said they had seen the vessel, which they had good reason to believe was the JUNO, go ashore early in the morning. The masts went by the board, the back broke, and the sea covered her from stern to stern, sweeping every living thing away. Guided by the Vigilant, No 2 lifeboat cruised about in search of bodies but none were found.

List of the crew of the JUNO :-

James CORKHILL, Isle of Man, master

George BROWN, Dumfries, mate

William M’VANE, Down, 2nd mate

Adolph BONFET, Dresden, carpenter

James BRIDSON, Isle of Man, boatswain

Marin LOUIS, Antwerp, sail maker

Peter GOMEZ, cook

Quilon JULIA, India, steward

William JOSEPH,. Malta A.B

Charles EDWARDS, Sweden, A.B

Alexander HARRISON, Umballa, A.B

Adrian BREESK, Finland, A.B

Carl HENRICKSON, Finland, A.B

T. CLEARY, Waterford, A.B

H. MARTEUS, Germany, A.B

George STARR, Corsica, A.B

W. W. KLEINORTH, Corsica, A.B

Johan W. JOHANSON, Norway, A.B

George WHITE, A.B

J. N. SVENSON, Sweden, A.B

John T. LARSON, Sweden, A.B

A. B. CRONSTADT, Sweden, A.B

Robert RIDDICK, Liverpool, O.S

James BERRENT, Yarmouth, O.S

There were also on board four apprentices, H. AMLOTT, A. B. WATTS, A. W. BROWN and J. HOLDEN.

Captain James CORKHILL was about 40 years of age, and enjoyed the entire confidence of his employer. He belonged to Jurby in the Isle of Man, his wife also from the Isle of Man accompanied him on this ill-fated voyage, and the disaster has placed a boy of seven and a girl of two years in the hapless position as orphans.

[From the I.O.M, Times, James CORKHILL was the son of David CORKHILL of the Squeen Claddagh, Ballaugh, and was educated at the Ballaugh Village School, and studied navigation under the late Mr MACAULAY, schoolmaster Ramsey. His wife had the maiden name of CHRISTIAN and she was heiress to the Clypse Farm in Onchan and niece to Daniel CHRISTIAN, Clypse Farm in Onchan ] Another equally melancholy circumstance in connection with the wreck is the drowning of the pilot, Robert BISPHAM, of No 9 boat, who has left a wife and six children. The JUNO was built by Messers BOWDLER and CHAFFER at Seacombe a few years ago, for the late Mr Joseph STEEL, and only recently passed into the hands of Mr KENNEDY.

The Liverpool lifeboat Captain’s story

The Liverpool Lifeboat No 2, which went to the scene of the wreck in Command of Captain James MARTIN, with whom as the 2nd master THOMAS, and among the crew was River Police-constable Patrick DUFFY, who volunteered his services.

Captain MARTIN, St Pauls Square, said at his house last night :-

“About 1.30am on Monday a messenger informed me that the lifeboat was wanted and I immediately left home reaching the stage about 2am. The wind was then blowing a strong gale from west north west, and there was a tremendous sea. I got a crew together as quickly as possible, but we knew we could do nothing good till daylight. We left the stage in tow of the tug Cruiser at about 5am and got abreast of the wreck between 7.30 to 8am. The vessel was aground on Jordan Flats, to the north east of Formby Lightship, under two miles distant and in almost a direct line between that and the Bar Lightship. The western portion of Taylor’s Bank, a broad stretch of sand was between us and the wreck, and it was impossible under the circumstances to get to her, or render any assistance. At this time we could not see whether any one was on the ship, but after a while we saw the ensign run up, and knew there were persons on board. The New Brighton Lifeboat was already out and went outside the bar, thinking to get round the bank, but I knew from many years experience it was useless making such an attempt. We left the tug, turned to, and got hold of the Formby Lightship, in the hope that the weather would moderate or the sea go down at high water, in which case there was a chance of getting to the wreck, but the fury of the wind increased, the waves rose higher, till there was nothing but broken water between us and the ship, and to have tried to approach her would have been certain death to us all. We held on to the Formby Lightship until it was very nearly too late for our own safety, for it was as much as we could do to get away on account of the state of the wind and the sea. We had seen the foretopmast carried away soon after we sighted the wreck, a little time afterwards the mainmast fell, and as we were leaving the lightship the remaining portion of the masts disappeared. As soon as we got clear of the lightship, we set sail for home, for we dared not attempt to get hold of our tug, or the probability is she would have pulled us under the water. We came down the river under sail followed by the Cruiser in case of accident, and reached the stage at noon. We afterwards returned leaving the stage in tow of the Vigilant, shortly before 2pm, and the New Brighton boat in tow of the Fiery Cross was also going out again ahead of us. The latter boat went to the western side of the bank thinking there might be an opportunity of getting to the wreck down the eastern side from Formby Hole, we steered there, but found it impossible to get anywhere near where the wreck lay. All that was then to be seen of her was pieces of the stern, and stern on the bank, her amidships had evidently got into a hole and she had broken in two, the people on board would have had no chance to escape. I hailed the people on shore at the Formby Lifeboat Station to ascertain if any wreckage or bodies had been washed on the beach, but they signalled in the negative. All hope of us being of any use had gone and we returned to Liverpool reaching the stage about 6pm.”

Captain MARTIN has been in the Liverpool lifeboat service about 25 years having command of the boat about 19 years. He has been the recipient of many tokens for his bravery in assisting and saving shipwrecked crews, among them being a 1st class gold medal from the United States Government for rescuing the crew of the American ship Ellen Southard, which went aground in the same locality as the wreck. On that occasion there was a tremendous sea and after rescuing all hands the lifeboat was over turned and three of her crew and eight of the rescued sailors were lost.

Liverpool Mercury, 31st Jan 1884

Inquest on the body of the Captain’s wife

Yesterday Mr BRIGHOUSE held an inquest on the body of Mrs CORKHILL, at the Station Hotel Formby.

Captain William John GILL who was related to the deceased by marriage identified the body as that of Elizabeth CORKHILL, the wife of the Captain of the JUNO. Thomas AINDOW a fisherman of Formby deposed to finding the body face down on the sands about half a mile from Formby Lighthouse, he summoned Police Sergeant FYLE and Constable TOLLITT took charge of the body. Deceased was wearing two watches and chains and a quantity of jewellery was found in her pocket. She was wearing cork life preservers, probably loving put on her by her husband in the hope of saving her life .

The jury returned a verdict of death from drowning. The deceased lady was returned her residence Churchill St, Toxteth Park, pending interment.

Two other bodies washed up at Formby were identified as BISPHAM the pilot, of Beaconsfield Rd, Seacombe, the other body was that of youth named Abdallah who was engaged as a pantry boy, aged about 16. Two other bodies found at Formby are lying at Mr RIMMER’S, Freshfield Hotel, one of a middle aged seaman thought to be Greek, the other a young man 16 to 19 years of age.

Another body washed up at Ainsdale awaiting inquest has been identified as that of AMLOT, 17 Brook Rd, Bootle, the senior apprentice, he reached 18 on Sunday the eve of the wreck.

Liverpool Mercury, 2nd Feb 1884

Mr BRIGHOUSE attended at Mr RIMMER’S, Freshfield Hotel, , when he held an inquest into the deaths of Anthony Billington WATTS, apprentice and Alexander M’DONALD, a stowaway who had been washed up from the wreck of the JUNO.

The body was WATTS was identified by his cousin Stephen WATTS, of St Thomas St, South, Oldham The body of M’DONALD was identified by his brother Joseph M’DONALD a barman of 6 Jamaica St, Liverpool, who said that the youth was a stowaway, and 18 years of age.

The witness WATTS said that he had heard very strong expressions of opinion that the deceased were not drowned but had died from cold and starvation, and this had been said by doctors who had seen the bodies. The Coroner said the jury had nothing to do with hearsay or rumour and the evidence before them only showed that the bodies were found drowned. Jury returned verdicts accordingly.

Mr BRIGHOUSE also held an inquest at Melling’s Hotel Ainsdale on the body of Henry Fairley AMLOT, an apprentice on board the JUNO and son of Captain AMLOT commander of the steamship Mentmoro. Mr R. M. AMLOT, engineer, 19 Brook Rd, Bootle identified the body as that of his brother and said that the deceased reached his 18th birthday on Sunday. Jury returned a verdict of “Found drowned”

Mr BRIGHOUSE also held an inquest at the Station Hotel Formby on the bodies of Robert BISPHAM, the pilot and Abdallah, a Hindoo, who was engaged as a pantry boy, aged about 16, washed ashore at Formby.

Mrs BISPHAM, of 12 Beaconsfield Rd, Tranmere, recognised the body of her husband, who was 47 years old, she last saw him on Monday January 21st, when he left home to go on board the JUNO bound for Calcutta, as a pilot.

Jury returned a verdict of “Found drowned”

Ralph BROOKS, a fisherman of Raven Meols Lane, Formby, deposed to finding the body of BISPHAM on the 30th ult, a quarter of a mile from Crosby Boathouse. Police Sergeant FYFE produced a watch and other articles found upon the pilot’s body, the watch had stopped at, five minutes past twelve.

Thomas STARKEY, master mariner, 21 Queen’s Rd, Crosby, said that he had several times been on board the JUNO, and recognised the body of Abdallah, who was employed on the ship as assistant steward, who joined the ship at Calcutta during her last voyage there, and was about 16 years of age.

Jury returned a verdict of “Found drowned”

Liverpool Mercury, 5th, Feb 1884


AMLOT, Jan 28th, lost on the ship JUNO on Taylor’s Bank, Formby, Henry Farley AMLOT, apprentice, aged 18, 2nd son of Captain Thomas AMLOT, 19 Brook Rd, Bootle.

CORKHILL, James CORKHILL, aged 42, captain of the ship JUNO, who was lost in the wreck of that vessel off the port in a gale of 28th January. Also Elizabeth Christian, wife of the above, aged 30, who was lost with her husband in the above wreck.

Liverpool Mercury, 7th, Feb 1884

Funeral of the boatswain of the JUNO

The funeral of James BRIDSON, late boatswain of the ship JUNO, wrecked last week at the entrance of the Mersey took place on Tuesday, the expenses being defrayed by the Liverpool Manx Association. The deceased was a native of the Isle of Man, but as yet the whereabouts of his relatives and friends have not been discovered, although searching inquiries have been made.

Liverpool Mercury, 9th, Feb 1884


BROWN, Jan 28th, drowned in the wreck of the ship JUNO off Formby, George BROWN, chief officer, native of Kelton, Dumfrieshire.

BROWN, Jan 28th, lost in the ship JUNO on Taylor’s Bank, Formby, aged 19 years, A. W. BROWN, apprentice, grandson of Mr ARMOUR, late pier master of the Coburg Dock.

Liverpool Mercury, 13th, Feb 1884

On Monday afternoon the bodies of two men belonging to the ill-fated ship JUNO were washed ashore at Formby. One was the body of the steward a native of Calcutta. In one of the pockets was a pocket book containing the certificates and characters which the deceased had received from various captains under whom he had served and a silver watch with his name, Rebeem BOX, scratched upon the case. About the same time and the same place another body was thrown ashore, it is supposed to be that of the 2nd officer of the JUNO. He is 5ft 9ins in height, with moustache and whiskers and dressed in a suit of yellow moleskins and a new pair of Indiarubber sea boots. His body is extensively tattooed. An inquest was held on Monday at Crossens, on the body of a seaman who was found on the beach last Friday. From the account given of the clothing and articles found in the pockets it seemed likely that it was the body of A. W. BROWN, an apprentice on the Juno. Several friends went to Crossens on Tuesday morning and recognised the deceased as A. W. BROWN, he was 19 years of age and the grandson of Mr ARMOUR, the Queen’s pier master, who died in December last. The body was interred in Crossens churchyard.

Liverpool Mercury, 16th, Feb 1884


HOLDEN-WATTS, Jan 28th, drowned by the wreck of the ship JUNO, at Formby, Jackson HOLDEN, apprentice, eldest son of Richard and Alice Margaret HOLDEN of 1 Sefton Rd, Walton, Liverpool. Was interred in the family vault at Church Kirk, February 6th, deeply deplored. Also on the same date by the same wreck, Anthony Billington WATTS, apprentice, aged 20, son of the late Sergeant WATTS of the county constabulary, Church near Accrington. In loving memory.

Liverpool Mercury, 22nd, Feb 1884


RIDDICK, Jan 28th, drowned by the wreck of the ship JUNO at Formby, Robert Thompson RIDDICK, aged 20, second son of the late Robert T. RIDDICK, 59 Oxford St, Liverpool. Deeply regretted.

Liverpool Mercury, 18th, Feb 1884

Subscription for the pilot

To the editors of the Liverpool Mercury :-

Gentlemen, Please oblige by acknowledging this small some of money through the medium of your paper. In answer to the appeal I made on behalf of the widow and family of the pilot of the JUNO, I have received, £5-8s and £4-9s-6d, being acknowledged by letter and in person, and from J. L, 7s-6d, e. m. 1s, sister in sorrow, 5s, a sympathiser 5s. For which donations the widow and myself render our grateful thanks, Q. A. EDMUNSON

Sailor’s Institute, 8 Price St, Liverpool, Feb 16th, 1884.

Meeting of the Mersey Dock Board

Alleged failure of lifeboat duty at Liverpool

February 7th 1884

A report from the Marine Surveyor Captain G. H. HILLS was read in the circumstances of the wreck of the barque JUNO on the 28th ult, as to the conduct of the lifeboat crew on that occasion. The report showed that soon after 1am of the 28th, a heavy gale blowing west north west, the lookout on board the Formby lightship observed a ship’s light passing in the direction of one of the buoys, and stopping at the north edge of Taylor’s Bank, At 1.20 a call rocket was fired from the lightship, which was quickly replied to by the Crosby lightship and by the Coastguard stations at Waterloo and New Brighton, the last being seen at the Liverpool landing stage at 1.30am. The officer on duty on the stage thereupon sent two men to summon the lifeboat crew.

The master of the lifeboat reached the stage at 2.10am, and found one of the crew had already arrived. At 2.30am the messenger returned and reported that one of the men they had called upon was in hospital, one failed to answer, four were absent at their avocations, and one answered to the call but did not turn out. The master then sent off for other men. The Marine Surveyor reached the stage at 4.30am and found that the master of the lifeboat and seven men had assembled, two of the latter being away trying to find other men. It was not until some time afterwards that the lifeboat got away, the places of the absentees being taken by landing stage seamen, and two river policemen.

The Marine Surveyor had previously left for the scene of the wreck in the powerful Dock Board tender Vigilant, and found that the lifeboat belonging to the National Lifeboat Institution and stationed at New Brighton was already out. The Liverpool lifeboat followed and for several hours both boats remained in the neighbourhood of the wreck endeavouring to make there way to her, but she had been swept half a mile upon the bank, upon the surface of which a terrible surf was raging and rendered it impossible for even a lifeboat to live. After full investigation of the circumstances the Marine Surveyor reported that in his view, there was no failure of duty on the part of the crew in their efforts to save life.

Mr Donald KENNEDY, commenting on the report, said that being the owner of the unfortunate vessel, he had made close inquiries into her loss and the sacrifice of 29 lives, and after sifting all the evidence, he had come to the conclusion that the lifeboat crew did all that brave men could be expected to do, and remained near the vessel as long as there was any hope of saving life. As to the manning of the boat, however, he was not satisfied, and thought that in an important port like Liverpool they should be able to find a crew at once, especially in the winter season and in such gales as we had recently had. The Marine Surveyor had done his duty nobly, but the system he administered was faulty.

In reply to a question Mr HOLT, chairman of the Marine Committee, said that they had been advised that the establishment of electric telegraph communication with lightships was impossible, but a system of signalling by lights was maintained as far as possible. The matter was then dropped.

February 8th 1884

To the editors of the Liverpool Mercury

Gentlemen, On reading the report made by Captain Graham HILLS, the marine surveyor to the Dock Board, we observe that some difficulty seems to have arisen in getting a crew for the Liverpool lifeboat, and from the remarks made by Mr Donald KENNEDY, owner of the JUNO, it might appear that there was also a difficulty in getting a crew for the New Brighton lifeboat, belonging to the National Lifeboat Institution, as no distinction is made between the two boats. This we are happy to say is not, and never has been the case, the New Brighton crew have always mustered promptly, the average time between the receipt of signals and the starting of the lifeboat, 18 minutes.

On the occasion of the wreck of the JUNO, the crew had been waiting all the previous afternoon and evening, and when the signal was given early on Monday morning the men were promptly at the boat as usual. And we take this opportunity of expressing our entire satisfaction with their conduct and exertions to save life on this and other occasions.

We are yours faithfully,

Alfred BOWES, Chairman

J. L. C. HAMILTON, Charles H. BELOE, Hon Secs

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution , Liverpool 7th Feb 1884

February 22nd, 1884

In the investigation into the circumstances of the wreck of the Juno removed any doubt which might have been felt as to the actions of the crew of the Liverpool lifeboat, there was no lack of daring endeavour, it, however proved that the system of getting the men together in an emergency was capable of great improvement. It was felt that occasions might arise when a few hours delay in getting a crew together would have the most disastrous results. Acting on advice from the Marine Surveyor, the Marine Committee of the Board yesterday submitted new arrangements that had been adopted. Mr James MARTIN, master of No 1 lifeboat has been appointed superintendent of the Liverpool Lifeboat Station with an annual allowance of £40, in addition to the re-numeration for exercising days and actual service. Authority is given to him to retain a crew at the Landing-stage at night whenever such a provision is thought desirable, the payments being 5s per man in respect of each nights attendance, independently of the services afloat, if such be rendered. At some date it may be deemed a matter of the first importance that a lifeboat crew should be kept on the stage ready at immediate call, at any rate during the winter months, as in the case with firemen for service in the city, but in the meantime, the arrangement is a step in the right direction.


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