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Ellan Vannin's river of roses; Liverpool marks Isle of Man's worst sea tragedy.


IT WAS only a rose, but each blood-red bloom represented a lost soul. In all, 36 roses were cast over the side of the Mersey ferry Snowdrop to mark the deaths of 36 people lost on the Manx steamer, Ellan Vannin.

Yesterday's remembrance service was 100 years to the day the small steamer was overwhelmed by a freak wave at the Mersey Bar.

The 21 crew and 14 passengers were sailing from Ramsey, IoM, on December 3, 1909, and witnesses saw the ship's lights snuffed out as she foundered off Crosby.

The centenary ceremony was attended by Tony Brown, Chief Minister of the Isle of Man and Robert Quayle, chairman of the Isle of Man Steam Packet.

a The Steam Packet owned Ellan Vannin and, as the tragedy was the worst Manx maritime disaster, her name was never reused.

After the sounding of the Last Post, the service was led by Rev Canon Bob Evans and John Wilson, of Liverpool Seafarers Centre.

The roses were then cast overboard by TS Starling Sea Cadets and pupils of St John's CoE Primary School, Waterloo.

Several descendants of those who lost their lives were present on board.

ship, Eleanor Callister, of Peel, IoM, is grand-daughter of Joseph Crellin, a fireman.

"I was determined to come, my father Jack was four when my grandfather died. This has been a wonderful experience."

Alan Wingrove, who lost his greatgrandfather William Kelly, a seaman, agreed.

"This has been an excellent tribute, with true dignity," he said.

"My great-grandfather was a first officer standing in for his brother, who had flu, on this one day, and as a result lost his life."

Passenger Amy Crix, died aged 18, with her 10-month-old unnamed baby, apparently coming home after a short but unhappy marriage. Her nephews Ernest Moore, of Ashton, Eddie Burgess, of Gateacre, and niece Eileen Judge, of West Derby, were onboard for the event.

"Amy's death in the Ellan Vannin sinking was always a big family story," said Mr Moore.

"Our father was so shocked by his sister's death, he never ate anything out of the sea again."

Before the remembrance service, folk singer Hughie Jones performed his haunting song The Tragedy of the Ellan Vannin, written in 1961.

John Curry, ex-Mersey pilot, representing the RNLI, said that conditions yesterday were potentially identical to those a century ago, with a west-north-west strong gale, rather than a hurricane.

Robert Quayle said: "This has been a moving occasion and the most important centenary event.

"Ellan Vannin is the only ship we have lost in peacetime and we hope it remains that way."

Organiser Harry Edmondson, of Waterloo, said: "This was the least we could do for those who died."


A sea cadet with a rose The stricken ship, Ellan Vannin Chief Minister of the Isle of Man, the Hon Tony Brown, casts his wreath onto the Mersey waters
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 4, 2009
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