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Lifeboat Memorial, Duke Street Cemetery, Southport

Lifeboat Memorial, Duke Street Cemetery, Southport

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Lifeboat Memorial, Duke Street Cemetery, Southport

On 9 December 1886, Mexico, a Hamburg-registered barque sailing from Liverpool went aground near Southport, in a full west north westerly gale. The Eliza Fernley lifeboat was launched from Southport in heavy seas in response to distress signals from the Mexico. When the craft reached Mexico, she was struck by giant waves and capsized. Two hours later, she was found approximately three miles from Southport at Birkdale. Fourteen of her sixteen crew had perished. After the Southport boat launched, the neighbouring St Anne's lifeboat the Laura Janet was also called out. Her crew proceeded to two miles off Southport, but the next morning the Laura Janet was found ashore, bottom up and every man in the crew was lost. A third lifeboat from Lytham reached the Mexico and all 12 members of her crew were saved. The Southport and St Anne’s lifeboats disaster is still the worst in the history of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), with 27 lifeboat crew lost. A public fund for relief of the sixteen widows and fifty orphans was opened with the RNLI contributing £2,000, the queen and the emperor of Germany also contributing. The sum of £30,000 was raised in total with much of the money being raised by locals. There are memorials at both St Anne’s and Southport. In 1925, the RNLI withdrew its service from Southport and left the town with no lifeboat. However, in the late 1980s, after a series of unfortunate tragedies, local families from Southport again started to raise funds and eventually were able to buy a new lifeboat for the town stationed at the old RNLI boathouse. The Southport Offshore Rescue Trust is completely independent of the RNLI and like the RNLI it depends entirely on charitable funding. This photograph was taken with a circa 1959 Yashica Mat twin lens reflex camera loaded with Ilford XP7 film. The film was developed by me and then scanned in to my computer. The Yashica Mat is a 120 roll film medium format camera that takes 6x6 cm square negatives. Profits from the sale of this photograph will be donated to the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust.

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