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Ferry sinking anniversary marked

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By Christie Breen
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Ferry sinking anniversary marked

DOZENS gathered in Stranraer to mark the 71st anniversary of the sinking of the Princess Victoria on Wednesday

The wreath-laying service at the Agnew Park memorial was led by the Lord Lieutenant of Wigtown, Aileen Brewis, and was attended by community leaders, representatives from the RNLI, emergency services, Merchant Navy and school pupils in order to honour and remember those who died in the tragedy on January 31 1953.

Captained by James Ferguson, the Princess Victoria ferry left Stranraer in the midst of a gale for Northern Ireland. After leaving the shelter of Loch Ryan she got into difficulties in the North Channel.

Shortly after clearing the mouth of Loch Ryan, huge waves damaged the low stern doors, allowing water to enter the car deck. Captain Ferguson decided to retreat to the safety of Loch Ryan but this proved to be impossible because turning the boat would have allowed more water into the vessel.

The captain then decided to try to reach the Irish coast, the ship’s radio operator David Broadfoot continued to transmit throughout the voyage before the ship sank five miles east of North Copeland Island on the Irish side of the channel. A total of 133 people died, including Captain Ferguson and David Broadfoot. There were just 44 survivors.

A similar memorial ceremony was held in Larne at the same time this week, with a wreath laid at their Princess Victoria memorial.