Explosion on the Lotty Sleigh, January 1864

Explosion on the Lotty Sleigh, Penny Illustrated 1864

Liverpool Mercury, January 16th 1864

Terrific explosion of gunpowder on the Mersey last night.

Enormous destruction of property

No event within living memory either in Liverpool or on the Cheshire side of the Mersey, has occasioned such universal alarm as was felt last evening in consequence of the explosion of upwards of 11 tons of gunpowder on board a vessel lying in the Mersey off Monks Ferry. The consternation which prevailed through every part of the town, particularly down the south end, rendered it difficult to obtain a complete account of the destruction of property that had taken place.

It appears that yesterday afternoon the barque LOTTY SLEIGH, Captain WEBBER, belonging to Messers HATTON and COOKSON, of Mersey St, left the west side of the King's Dock, with the tide, in charge of the pilot, and proceeded to her anchorage in the Mersey off Monk's Ferry. She was bound for the West Coast of Africa with a general cargo, and had also on board 940 quarter-kegs of powder about 11 tons in weight, which was stowed in the hold of the vessel, immediately beneath the captain's state-room.

Shortly after 6pm last evening the steward of the vessel was in the act of filling a lamp from a can of paraffin oil, when by some means the inflammable liquid became ignited. The can was instantly dropped by the steward, who was horror stricken to see its flaming contents flowing along the cabin floor and instantly igniting the curtains and bed clothes of the captain's sleeping apartment. To arrest its progress was impossible and the fiery stream poured through the grating of the lazarette and communicated with the cargo stored in the after-hold. It was immediately seen that no hope of extinguishing the flames could be entertained.

The Rock Ferry steamer WASP, Captain Joseph HUGHES, left Rock Ferry at 6pm, and as she steamed up the river, the attention of the passengers and crew was excited by a great noise on board the unfortunate ship, which gave the impression in the first place there was murder or mutiny on board. On nearing the vessel they were hailed with cries to come alongside and take off the crew, as the vessel was on fire and there was a great quantity of gunpowder on board. The WASP hove alongside and made haste to the ill-fated ship. The crew immediately jumped on board the steamer, half dressed and in such haste that no one remained to let go the rope by which the steamer was made fast to her, but by a vigorous effort it was "hitched" off the deck of the steamer. The WASSP then took away the crew and landed them at the George's Landing-stage.

Subsequently the NYMPH another Rock Ferry steamer, passing the LOTTY SLEIGH on the way to Rock Ferry, not being aware of the fire on board, and seeing the ship did not display the usual signals of a vessel at anchor, went alongside and hailed her, receiving no answer but the barking of a dog which had been left on board. Captain HUGHES of the WASP, described the sensation of the water as similar to that experienced during a severe storm. The report soon became current that a vessel was in flames on the Mersey, and hundred's flocked to the waters edge to witness the spectacle, but few anticipated the frightful calamity which was soon to involve the owners and occupiers of houses in the serious loss they have sustained. They were in ignorance of the cargo but when they learned the ship was abandoned and so large a quantity of gunpowder was on board they were pale with terror, but transfixed to the spot, as though incapable of taking their eyes from the burning mass, which they expected to see at any moment tossed in the air. The captain of the barque was at this time on shore in Birkenhead and knew nothing of the disaster until about an hour after

The persons in charge of the Woodside steamer Liverpool, seeing the barque on fire went alongside to render assistance, but the Rock Ferry steamer being on the starboard side of the vessel taking the crew off, the men on board shouted to those on the Liverpool to keep a good distance off there being gunpowder on board and they could render no help, the passengers on the Liverpool became greatly excited and the captain got the vessel of the reach of danger as quickly as possible.

About 7.20pm the contents of the vessel blew up with a report hardly possible to describe, the effects in every part of Liverpool were severely felt and created indescribable terror. At the same moment the most solid blocks of warehouses, offices, and private dwellings were shaken to their base, doors locked and bolted were thrown wide open, thousands of squares of glass were smashed, to add to the alarm, the entire line of lamps through the greater portions of the streets were extinguished, rendering it difficult to pass from place to place and jeopardising the safety of those who rushed forth to ascertain the cause of the consternation. The fear was particularly experienced by the poorer inhabitants, who poured forth from court and alley screaming for deliverance from some unknown danger, dragging their helpless children at their heels. Crowds ran this way and that, inquiring what was the cause of the alarm.

The spectacle which the burning vessel presented at the moment of explosion was one of the most frightful, yet grand which could have been witnessed. The flames had enwrapped the whole lower portion of the vessel, but had not burst forth and ignited the rigging. Suddenly a sound that deafens, and makes the earth heave and reel, and bursts upon the ear, the black hull burst forth a hideous volume of flames, illuminating the heavens and casting its lurid light on either shore over the vessels lying at anchor in the Sloyne and the river. High in the air the yards, masts and the whole of the upper portions were thrown and fell like fiery hissing serpents into the waters all around. Bolts, portions of hull, and fragments of the lighter parts of the ship were propelled as far as either shore, some pieces falling on the steam-boats lying near the landing stages. The hull driven into a thousand pieces, and immediately the smoke cleared portions of the burning mass were seen floating down the river with the ebb tide, these were traced for a considerable distance but eventually the lights were extinguished by the water dashing over the,. A portion of the hull floated past the Woodside ferry boat which had to shut off steam to avoid coming into collision with it in the river, a vessel called the RETRIEVER was lying within a few hundred yards of the burning ship, but sustained no injury from the burning spars.

Soon after the explosion Captain SUMNER of the steamtug PHOENIX left the Prince's Landing-stage and proceeded round the burning vessel, visiting the ships in the immediate proximity, one of which was outward bound had received the shock on her quarter, and had her cabin doors and other furniture completely smashed.

The LOTTY SLEIGH was a barque of 220 tons, and was insured. She shipped a full complement of seamen and the captain had all his effects and a considerable sum of money on board. Two of the crew after being landed went to the Sailor's Home, one of them before the fire began was engaged in putting the powder on board from the magazine boat, and although he knows little of the origin of the fire, he speaks of the terrific rapidity with which it spread over the vessel. Most of the clothing of the crew is lost and many of the poor fellows are left in pecuniary distress. Besides the powder the vessel had a large valuable cargo for the West Coast trade, the loss to the owners or underwriters will be large.

Great praise is due to Captain HUGHES of the Rock Ferry steamer WASP, and the men under his command, for the promptitude with which they went to the assistance of those on board the burning vessel, and the precautions which they took in getting them to safety on board the steamer.

The damage done in Castle St was considerable, several of the shops and offices were much damaged, some of their expensive plate-glass fronts being shivered to atoms, the plate-glass front in the shop of Mr OWENS, watch manufacturer was completely blown out. The shutters of the shop Mr ARCHER, musical instrument maker, though secured by strong iron bars, were blown out, the same thing occurred at the shop of Mr GRESSON, printer and lithographer. At the establishment of Messers ALLISON and MACFIE, wine and spirit merchants, a large plate of glass was blown out. At the shop of Mr Alexander DEMPSTER, hosier and glover, Castle St, and the shop front of Messers HOPKINS and Sons, brush manufacturers, St George's Crescent, three large plates of glass were destroyed. The plate glass front of Mr George EASTEE'S fancy repository was entirely smashed, and many articles in the window were damaged. Inspector HANCOX who was on duty in the neighbourhood, promptly stationed police-officers at the shops referred to, to prevent property being stolen.

The plate glass front of the house of Mrs COPPLESTONE, licensed victualler, Derby Square were blown out, a portion of the glass fell on Mr WILLIAMS, of Holt Hill, and he was severely cut upon the head and bled profusely, he was taken home in a cab as speedily as possible. One of the front windows in the spirit vault connected with the Cheshire Inn, James St, was blown out.

The damage done in Lord St was considerable, a large plate glass was broken in the shop of Mr STOUT, boot and shoe manufacturer, the shutters covering the doorway of Messers LIVINGSTON and STONIER, china and glass warehouse were blown in. The fine plate glass front of the shop of Messers GILLHAM and Co, hatters was completely destroyed and at the shop of Messers REIS and Co, bullion merchants a large sized plate of glass was broken. At the shop of Mr CHELLEW, chemist and druggist, some of the bottles were thrown from the shelves and the windows much damaged. The shop front of Mr WOODS, hatter, was blown out, the shopman John LANGHORN, asserts that he dreamt on Thursday night that a fearful explosion took place and that Lord St was in darkness.

The lower windows and door of the establishment of Messers ELKINGTON and Co, Church St, which are covered with iron shutters, these were "bowed in" by the force of the explosion, a similar casualty occurred at the shop of Messers WOODS and Co, carpet warehouse, Bold St. At the silk warehouse of Messers SHELLARD and HODGSON, Bold St, some fine sheets of glass were blown to pieces.. Great damage was done to CROMPTON HOUSE, were several panes of glass were broken. The waxwork exhibition of Mr ALLSOP, Lime St did not escape, several panes of glass were broken and damage done to the contents of the hall.

In Dale St, the shock of the explosion was felt with great intensity, the lights in the central police station were extinguished, and the officials were greatly alarmed as it was rumoured that a gas explosion had taken place at the section house. The fire engines under the direction of Mr Superintendent HEWITT and a body of the fire police were quickly turned out, and drove down Dale St, finding conflicting rumours as to the locality and nature of the explosion, it was rumoured a gasometer at Vauxhall Rd Gasworks had exploded, others asserting there was an underground explosion of gas at the south end, they were at a loss where to go to lend any aid that might be required. After some time they were told of the explosion on the ship, the engines were driven in that direction, but of course their journey was fruitless.

The force of the explosion was severely felt on the west side of the Exchange Newsrooms, the keeper of the building John GRIFFITHS had extinguished the gas, and was preparing to leave, when the air, forced with tremendous velocity along the corridor skirting the Exchange Flags, dashed in 20 to 30 of the immense squares of plate glass which form the windows on the side of the building. Portions of the glass 20 feet into the centre of the room, one piece inflicting a severe wound on Mr GRIFFITH'S hand. Several squares of glass were blown from the windows of the basement and from the skylight of Sir William Brown's buildings, and the gas was at the same time extinguished. In the Corn Exchange Buildings and Victoria Buildings, Tithbarn St, the windows were more or less smashed At Preston's public house, on the corner of Hackin's-hey and Dale St, the upper portion of the plate glass window, 12 ft wide was forced from the framework and falling into a window filled with bottles of spirits caused a serious loss. In the neighbourhood of Oldhall St, several parties suffered their windows having been broken, the damage amounting to many pounds.

In Marybone the doors of house number 66 were forced open and several barrels of ale were lifted from the ground, the gas was extinguished and at the same time the house shook so violently that the inmates thought another earthquake had visited Liverpool. Although the shock was felt more severely in the lower part of the town, it extended to the upper portions also, in Berry St, Great George St and in the direction of Falkner St and Parliament St, it was experienced to such an extent as to cause considerable alarm amongst the residents, people ran out of their houses in a state of great trepidation, each under the impression the explosion was confined to their district. Groups of anxious pedestrians perambulated the streets, though without any apparent certainly of the best locality for commencing their inquiries. In the locality of Rodney and Berry Streets, the damage sustained was comparatively light, several shop windows were broken together with several panes of glass in private houses, the inconvenience experienced being chiefly confined to the temporary extinction of the gas lights. At the furniture warehouse of Mr MORRIS, Berry St a portion of the glass front was shattered. The establishment of Mr BESWICK, music seller in the same street sustained similar damage. The windows of LEWISES Bazaar, Great George St were materially damaged. Along the streets in a direct line to the north end the damage was of a similar character, and here and there a pane of glass in a private house was damaged.

In the neighbourhood of Vauxhall Rd and Scotland Rd, and the immediate streets less damage was sustained. A house in Marlborough St, Scotland Rd, had the windows shattered. At the music hall "Dan Lowry's Music Saloon" Bevington Bush, a large plate glass window was broken, several of the pieces scattered on the pavement beneath. In Everton and the neighbourhood the shock was severely felt, the houses were generally violently shaken, occasioning the occupants peculiar alarm. Several of the larger establishments in Dale St, more especially the spirit vaults having large plate glass windows, suffered extensively, Crane's vaults, Johnson St and Messers ROBINSON and PRESTON'S vaults at the corner of Hackins-hey was so much damaged the windows had to be boarded up for protection. Several of the windows of the Catholic School for the blind in Brunswick Rd were broken, similar damage was done at the Manchester Buildings and at the spirit vaults at the bottom of Chapel St. At Bootle many of the inhabitants ran out of their houses in utmost terror and alarm, being under the apprehension that they were visited by an earthquake, several windows were broken. At Bootle police station the shock was severely felt, the building shook to the foundation.

Along the line of the docks the shock was felt with great violence, the damage was chiefly confined to the breakage of windows, those facing the river were especially effected. The force of the blast was varied at one house the windows would be shivered into a thousand pieces and the next would escape with little damage, corner premises seemed to have suffered the worst, these were chiefly public houses, the plate glass fronts of which were sadly mutilated. The lamps at several dock sheds were extinguished and some panes of glass were forced out of several ships lying in the docks. At the Salthouse Dock Shed one of the massive doors at the north east corner trembled so much beneath the force of the concussion that the policeman on duty thought it might fall. One of the iron beams which crossed the roof broke at one of the links and the bean swinging down just escaped a man who was standing near. At the Collingwood Dock station two officers were standing near the door when the explosion took place, the ground underneath them became violently agitated and one of the men was forcibly driven from the doorway. Many lamps along the whole line of the docks at the north were extinguished. At the Working Men's Dining Hall, Regent Rd, corner of Dublin St, a large window was smashed to pieces and the building shook to the foundation. At the Custom House a large number of windows on the south front were broken, and at the depot at the pierhead every pane was smashed. The Sailor's Home escaped without damage to the windows, but several of the doors were forced open. In James St the premises of Mr BRADLEY publican, three plate glass windows were forced out. At the shop of Mr SCOTT, of the Belgian zinc depot, 33 James St, the shutters forming the doors were blown out, Mr DAVIS, tailor, 7 James St had a plate glass window destroyed, as did Messers GARDNER and Co's bakery, Canning Place. At the Mona Hotel, Mr HUNTER'S, a large skylight was destroyed.

At Wapping considerable damage was done, Messers LEMON and CAIN, chronometer makers, shutters blown down and glass in the windows damaged, Mr LEMON afterwards missed a gold watch from his waistcoat pocket, and he supposed that he lost it when on rushing out into the street on the alarm, he slipped in the mud. Messers LEATHERBARROW publicans, on the corner of Runcorn St, Mr WILLIAMS, publican, corner of Salthouse Lane, Mr Robert SNOWDEN, 77 Kitchen St, James CHRISTIAN, publican 19 Strand St, George W. HEWITT, publican 10 Strand St, Messers H. JUMP and Sons, 11 Drury Lane, Messers Ross T. SMYTH and Co, corn merchants, 4 Drury Lane, and Messers HARRIS and Co, 6 Drury Lane, stationers all had plate glass windows broken. At the iron and steel works of Messers HORSFALL a massive iron gate was blown down and a similar accident occurred at Messers FAWCETT and PRESTONS works, York St.

At the Southern Hospital the shock was severely felt, the whole building distinctly vibrating and the gaslights went out at once. The impression was that an explosion of gas had taken place and the gas at the meter was turned off immediately. Many of the patients rushed into the street in their night clothes, some with broken legs crawling out on their hands and knees, and had it not been for the admirable coolness of the house surgeons backed most ably by the porters and nurses the consequences might have been dreadful. The poor sufferers were soothed and removed to their beds as soon as possible, and within half an hour the hospital returned to its usual quietude. The only damage being the blowing off of some of the ventilating gratings in the wards, and the smashing of several windows. At the Northern Hospital much consternation was occasioned to both officials and inmates, but beyond the breakage of a few panes of glass no damage was occasioned, neither has accident of any kind been reported to the hospital.

Toxteth also suffered considerably, and at the shop of Mr ROBERTS at the corner of Warwick St and Mann St, a plate glass window valued at £15 was broken, Park Lane escaped with little damage. The streets of Liverpool were densely crowded for hours after the occurrence, and it was nearly midnight before a feeling of security returned. Some idea may be formed of the terrific effect of the explosion when it is mentioned that the report was heard at Chester, the authorities there having telegraphed to Liverpool to know what was the cause of the tremendous report they had heard.

Birkenhead and neighbourhood

The explosion was felt with terrific force at Birkenhead and the greatest alarm prevailed amongst the inhabitants thinking there had been an earthquake, the public lamps and the gaslights in the shops and private homes were instantly extinguished and [people rushed into the streets in terror. The thoroughfares especially those leading to the Woodside Ferry, were soon crowded with persons eager to ascertain whether any lives had been lost. Some of the falling bolts and shattered spars of the ill-fated vessel fell upon houses in the streets and their were many narrow escapes. In some instances people who were seated comfortably in their homes were thrown down, and one gentleman who resides in Hamilton Square, stated the chair in which he was seated lifted a foot or two off the ground. Another gentleman who lives near the square was lying on a sofa and was thrown upon his face on the floor.

Almost simultaneously as the explosion there was a frightful crash of glass throughout the town, particularly at the ferry and in those streets most exposed to the effects of the concussion. The lights on the Woodside landing-stage were extinguished and the covered bridge connecting the stage with the old promenade was completely wrecked, nearly every pane of glass which covered the bridge was demolished as was also the glass of the paygates and the offices. The damage estimated at £250. The new steamer CHESHIRE in the river at the time had her cabin windows broken.

Proceeding from the Woodside Ferry into the township, and indescribable state of things presented itself, the footwalks were covered with broken glass, people were hurrying about in confusion and the lamp-lighters were busily occupied in re-lighting the public lamps, some parts were in darkness for a considerable time. The destruction to shop fronts and private houses was very great, in GOUGH'S Woodside Hotel, scores of panes of glass, back and front were broken, the front door was forced in and the framework smashed. The extensive plate glass front of ARBRIDGE'S public house in Chester St was blown in, and the bottles of spirits which were in the windows were shattered into a thousand pieces, the damage is estimated by Mr ARBRIDGE at upwards of £100. In Chester St the plate glass front of Mr HALLIDAY'S Hotel, OUTRAM'S chophouse, the Hamlet Vaults, the whole front of Mr WILLMER'S printing office and offices adjoining occupied by Wirral Waterworks Company, were completely smashed. The shop of Mr W. PECK, draper which is double fronted had the whole of the plate glass blown in. The Castle Hotel kept by Mr GLOVER was a complete wreck, the windows shattered from top to bottom, and the frame work of some windows being carried away. Other premises with plate glass broken were Mr GREY, draper, Glasgow House, the shop of Mr GILBERTSON, flour dealer Chester St. In Market St, Mr GREEN auctioneer, Mr CLARKE, hatter had their windows broken. Messers SANDERS and GLOVER, grocers, Albion St suffered severely by the destruction of glass, the market escaped with a few broken panes. In Hamilton St the explosion did great damage, the shop front of Mr MOORE, hatter was completely blown in, the sashes being blown away, oddly some of the adjoining shops were not in the least damaged. The extensive and fine front of the premises of Messers HARRISON and MOORE, late Bristow Bothers, ironmongers showed a similar fate as did the adjoining shop of Messers BYRD and Co, grocers.

The greatest damage was sustained on the west side of Argyle St, the majority of shops in this street had their plate glass fronts blown in amongst those damaged are the Argyle Rooms, Mr HENDERSON'S Bazaar, the music shop of Mr HIME, the shop of Mr GREGORY, clothier, Mr BENTLEY shoe manufacturer. In the shop of Mr HAMBLETON watchmaker and jeweller there was scarcely a pane broken, while the whole front of the shop occupied by the Misses FROST stationers, was carried away.

The houses on the south side of Hamilton Square suffered severely, not a dwelling escaped damage, every pane in some of the lowered windows was broken, and many of the front doors were forced open, even doors locked and bolted gave way to the pressure. Amongst the premises damaged in the square are the offices occupied by the commissioners. All the houses in Ivy St, Monks Ferry had the windows broken, and the public house of Mr Charles WATSON, Ivy St had the plate glass blown out. The Great Western Hotel suffered severely, the houses in Bridge St were likewise injured. At the Commercial Hotel, Pilgrim St, a good deal of glass was broken. Thomas's Hotel near the Woodside Ferry and other houses and shops in the neighbourhood had their fronts blown out.

A considerable amount of damage was sustained at the shipbuilding works of Messers LAIRD Brothers, the office windows, the workmen's shops and the dining room were demolished. The lights were extinguished and the men who were in the yard at the time had to suspend work. The windows in the Monk's Ferry Hotel were nearly all destroyed and at the Monk's Ferry station the glass roofing and the windows in the offices suffered severely. At the shipbuilding yard of Messers CLAYTON and Co, Woodside, the windows of the moulding room and several workshops were broken, doors were forced open and damaged, and the hatches of a ship lying in the graving dock were lifted up. Soon after the explosion an iron bolt nearly a foot long was found near the Woodside pay gates, and a piece of iron knee 18 inches long was picked up on the Woodside landing-stage. In Lord St an iron bolt fell through the roof of a house, cut through a bedstead and lodged in the floor. A portion of the flying debris also fell on the roof of the offices occupied by Mr R. B. MOORE, solicitor, Duncan St. A bolt also fell into the yard of Messers CLAYTON, and nearly struck one of the workmen. The shock of the explosion was felt in Grange Lane, where several windows were broken, and other thoroughfares on the outskirts. At Holt Hill some of the windows in the Nunnery were demolished. The Queen's Hotel opposite the Park also suffered.

At the premises of Messers WELSBY and DEAKIN, licensed victuallers, Chester St, the windows were broken in and in St Mary's-gate the front of the butcher's shop was blown completely out. In Lower Tranmere the excitement was great, a report was spread that the cause of the alarm was an explosion of the boiler of one of the locomotive engines on the railway line, the inhabitants left their homes in a state of great anxiety, and it was some time before their fears were allayed. The Rock Ferry steamers continued to ply during the progress of the fire on the ill-fated ship, Mr THWAITES the manager of the ferry, having issued orders as prevented the passengers incurring the slightest risk in the trips to and from Liverpool. The orders to the captain of the Rock Ferry steamers were that they should steer close to wither the Liverpool or the Cheshire shores, leaving the burning vessel as far as possible to the eastward or westward.

The appearance of Liverpool as seen from Rock Ferry, after the explosion was remarkable, instead of the illuminated scene usually witnessed, all was dark and gloomy, the lamps along the river side as well as those in the town having been extinguished by the shock of the explosion. The aspect of Liverpool was more that of a waste dreary moor than that of the greatest port in the world.

Wreck of the Lotty Sleigh on the beach at New Ferry, courtesy Liverpool Records Office

Liverpool Mercury, January 28th 1864

The Lotty Sleigh, sale of the wreck

The sale of the wreck of the Lotty Sleigh took place yesterday by order of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. Mr KELLOCK of the firm of Messers CURRY, KELLOCK and Co, acted as salesman. The wreck was sold as it lies on the beach near New Ferry, where it is dry at low water. The remaining fragments of the hull were put up at £5, and ultimately knocked down to £25 to Mr M'CORMACK. The foremast of pitch pine about 50 ft long, was sold for £5-10s, a flying jib, 13s, the standing, rigging etc, £4-5s. There were three lots of yellow metal which realised 7d per lb. A large quantity of palm oil shooks, staves heads, etc were also disposed of at the same time. The various materials brought fair average prices.

January 18th, 1864 a meeting of shopkeepers and others who had suffered damage to their premises and stock from the terrific explosion on the Mersey was held at the offices of Mr R. B. MOORE, solicitor Duncan St, Birkenhead, to consider the steps to be taken towards recovering compensation from the insurance offices and in some cases the landlords. Mr William HINSON, ironmonger, Argyle St was called upon to preside. There were about 40 gentlemen present, many whom had suffered severely. The chairman expressed his opinion that all those who had their plate glass insured would recover. The agents from the World, the Northwich and the Royal Insurance companies, he said, had been over to Birkenhead to see the damage and from what they stated there was no doubt they would put in the glass, and if that were so the other companies would follow.

Mr Joseph PECK, draper, expressed the opinion that the plate glass companies ought not to be liable, but that the fire insurance companies ought to make good the damage. The plate glass company with which he was insured intended to put in the glass, Mr OUTRAM stated that he had applied to the Union Plate-glass Company and they had refused to make good his damage. Mr BOTT, watchmaker and jeweller, Chester St, said that the damage to his glass and stock was not less than £200, in the darkness of the night a number of his watches and valuable goods were stolen, and he suggested that they should take counsel's opinion as to whether the plate glass companies, the fire insurance companies or the owners of the barque were responsible for the loss of stock.

On the motion of Mr T. WILKINSON, seconded by Mr WILLIAMS, Messers, HINSON, PECK, STYAN, BOTT, SCOTT and MOORE were appointed committee to conduct the necessary inquiries. It was next resolved that in the case of Mr WRIGHT, hairdresser, Chester St, whose loss was between £10-£20 in glass and goods, that Mr MOORE, solicitor would write to the fire office in which he was insured making a claim of damages, this application being intended to settle the question as to whether the fire insurance companies were liable for damage to stock.

Mr MOORE, hatter, Hamilton St, said he had insured his glass with the North of England Plate-glass Insurance Company, but on inquiry he found that the concern was a swindle.

One or two gentlemen said that Mr CRAVEN, who was the largest agent of property in the township, had positively refused to put in the glass on behalf of his principals, he having been advised by four legal gentlemen not to do so. It was further agreed in the case of Mr WILLIAMS, Chester St, whose shop front had not been insured, to make an application to the landlord or his agent to make the premises tenantable, under virtue of the landlord's fire insurance policy. In another case were the plate glass nor the stock were insured, Mr FOX, carver and gilder, Hamilton St, who estimated his loss at about £100, he was advised to apply for compensation to the owners of the Lotty Sleigh. Conversation next took place as to steps being taken to remove the floating powder magazines from their present dangerous position to some place outside of the port and it was resolved that Mr John LAIRD, M.P, should be written to on the subject, with the view of action being taken on the matter.

Jan 29th, 1864

In consequence of the rain penetrating into the bedrooms of the Priory Hotel, Leicester St, Birkenhead, the landlord Mr G. JONES, had the roof examined a day or two since and a large aperture was discovered in the slating. A bolt 19 inches long was found lodged in the roof, having by the force of its fall broken two stout rafters. The bolt formed part of the Lotty Sleigh, and the tremendous force of the explosion is shown by the propulsion of a piece of metal weighing several pounds for a distance of more than a mile.

February, 28th 1864

Case of Taunton .v. Royal Insurance Company

Heard yesterday before Vice Chancellor, Sir W. P. WOOD, the plaintiff applied to restrain the directors of the Royal Insurance Company, in which he is a shareholder, from paying any claims for compensation from insurers whose windows were shattered by the late explosion on the Lotty Sleigh, based on the grounds that the damage resulting from the explosion was not covered by the policies granted by the company, but the Vice-Chancellor, while admitting that the directors were not bound in law to pay the claims, thought that they were justified in compensating the sufferers in question, the application was therefore dismissed.

The committee of the directors of the Royal Insurance Company held an immediate meeting, and at once they announced their intention to pay the sufferers, they obtain four affidavits from gentlemen connected with the insurance offices in London and these gentlemen recommended the Royal Insurance Company pay the losses caused by the explosion on the Lotty Sleigh. Upon the strength of this recommendation the Royal Insurance Company rushed into print and magnanimously announced their intention to compensate all the sufferers at Liverpool and Birkenhead, insured at their establishment. Other company's followed suit.

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