Fatal explosion on the Steamship VICTORIA, 1854

Southport Visiter July 27th 1854



A melancholy and fatal accident occurred on the river Ribble on Sunday night last, by which five persons have already lost their lives and some others are not expected to survive the catastrophe.

A small steamer, the VICTORIA, joint property of a mechanic called RILEY and two or three other working men, by whom the vessel was built for the purpose of playing between Preston and Lytham with passengers, on the Sunday left Preston at 11am. There were 30-40 passengers on board, by whom the vessel was completely crowded, it being a more Lilliputian. Some say there was as many as 50, but all concur that she left the wharf with many more passengers than the number of which she was licensed.

The boiler was placed in the middle of the boat which has no deck or bulwarks, passengers stood closely packed at each end of the vessel. When on the return trip from Lytham on Sunday night at 11.30, 4 miles from Preston at a place called, “ Birley’s Chain” at Sea Marsh, the stern end of the boiler burst, the steam and boiling water being ejected with terrific force, amongst the crowded people in that part of the vessel, the result of which, one of the sufferers William MC VEY a mechanic, who has left a wife and child, died at 8am on Monday, and during that day four others fell victim to the dreadful casualty. William BROWN, Robert WADDINGTON, one at the House of Recovery, whose name we have not learnt, and Elijah BROWN, Storekeeper at the Northern Union, Railway station, who has left a wife and 6 children.

The persons in the forward part of the boat were uninjured, but one or two narrowly escaped being drowned having fallen overboard in the shock and tumult of the occurrence.

A Jury was empanelled to enquire into the deaths on Monday at 4pm at the Ship Inn, on the Marsh, where the body of MC VEY was lying. After being sworn by the Coroner Mr M. MYRES, they viewed the bodies, it was agreed to adjourn the proceeding till 10 yesterday [Wednesday].

Reports are current as to the boiler not being fitted up according to agreement, which has only now been discovered, but, at the present stage of proceedings, it would be premature further to allude to them.


Copyright 2002 / To date