EAST DONYLAND / ROWHEDGE
LORENA later ATALANTA
s.y. LORENA - Newspaper articles
15 January 1903 - “YACHTING. NEW TURBINE YACHT - Messrs. Ramage and Ferguson (Ltd.), Leith, launched yesterday afternoon the steam yacht Lorena, which Messrs. Cox and King, of London, have designed for Mr. A.L. Barber, of New York. The vessel is 1,650 tons yacht measurement, but interest centres in her chiefly because she is the first ocean-going yacht to be propelled by the Parson’s steam turbines. Over all she is 300ft. long, and on the water-line 253ft. As regards the disposition of the machinery, the propelling power is transmitted in three shafts with two propellers on each of the outer shafts and one on the centre shaft. Mr. Barber himself performed the ceremony of naming his vessel.”
19 May 1903 - “NEW TURBINE YACHT - The new steam yacht Lorena, which has been built to the order of Mr. A.L. Barber of New York, from the designs of Messrs. Cox and King, London, by Messrs. Ramage and Ferguson (Limited), Leith, and fitted with turbine engines by the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company (Limited), ran her official trial trip on Saturday in Aberlady Bay, Firth of Forth.
The mean speed of three double runs on the mile was found to be 17.904 knots, which is a very fine performance. The length of the yacht over all is about 300ft, with a water-line length of 245ft. and a breadth of 33ft. The displacement on trial was 1,700 tons. Steam is supplied by four cylindrical tubular boilers, fitted with Howden’s system of forced draught. It is claimed for the Lorena that she is the fastest ocean-going steam yacht in the world.”
Another paper described Lorena as “the largest turbine yacht in the world.”
Monday 10 August 1903 - “BOAT ACCIDENT AT BRIGHTLINGSEA. LOSS OF NINE LIVES. A terrible boating disaster causing the loss of nine lives occurred on Saturday night off Brightlingsea, Essex. The steam turbine yacht Lorena, one of the finest afloat, arrived in the Colne on Saturday with a crew shipped at Leith, to take in 200 tons of coal. Her owner, Mr. Barber, of New York, reached Brightlingsea on Saturday, and went on board. A party of eight stokers and the under steward named McLaren went ashore in the afternoon, intending to return at nine o’clock. They stayed in an hotel, however, until eleven o’clock before putting off for the Lorena in a small ferry-boat which would have carried five persons safely. They were rowed by a Brightlingsea ferryman named Annis, who borrowed the boat and who was assisted by a bricklayer named Lock. It was a clear, moonlight night, but there was a fresh breeze and a choppy sea. The boat behaved well in the river Colne, in spite of her heavy load, but on reaching the more exposed estuary she filled and sank within 400 yards of the Lorena. On the shore shouts for help were heard for several minutes, but at length they ceased. They had, however, been heard by Mr. W. Miall Green, of Kensington, who is Mayor of Brightlingsea, and who was on board his yacht Yolande. He at once ordered all his boats out, and himself cruised in a motor launch near the spot. He picked up the ferryman William Annis and one of the firemen named Jamieson who were good swimmers. The remaining nine occupants of the ferryboat were drowned. Annis stated that when the boat reached mid-channel one of the firemen stood up and caused the boat to upset when about a mile from Brightlingsea hard. Except Lock, who leaves a widow and three children, all the drowned men belong to Leith, where the Lorena was built at the cost of a quarter of a million sterling, and whence she was going to Southampton to complete her fitting. Mr. Barber, the owner, was on board at the time of the event.
The names of the men drowned are:- John Currie, J. Douglas, Alexander Smith, John Johnson, John McGregor, A. Wilson, D. Wilson, F. McLaren, and Joseph Lock. The bodies of the first five have been recovered. The fingers of one were clutched tightly round the rope attached to the boat’s anchor. Another of the drowning men, it is stated, clasped Annis round the neck so tightly that he had to use force to save himself. They lie in the Corporation hospital ship at the entrance to the harbour, where the inquests will be opened tomorrow. A sad feature in connection with the death of McGregor is that his reason for going ashore was to send a remittance to his wife and family of seven at Leith. He tried to return by an earlier boat but was unable to do so.
The tragedy cast a gloom over Brightlingsea. Most of the yachts are flying flags at half-mast.
In the churches and chapels at Brightlingsea yesterday the sad accident was referred to and the Dead March in “Saul” was played and funeral hymns were sung.”
Wednesday 12 August 1903 - “COLCHESTER FERRY-BOAT DISASTER - OPENING OF THE INQUEST. An inquest was held at Colchester, on Tuesday afternoon, on the bodies of eight of the men drowned last Saturday on the foundering of a ferry-boat in the estuary of the Colne, when returning to the yacht Lorena. The ninth body is still missing. The inquest was adjourned.
Thursday 13 August 1903 - “THE FATAL FERRYBOAT ACCIDENT - The bodies of the under steward and firemen of the yacht Lorena, drowned in the foundering of the boat in the Colne estuary on Saturday, were interred yesterday in Hillside graveyard, Brightlingsea Church. The service was conducted by the vicar, Rev. Arthur Pertwee, and was attended by the captain and crews of the Lorena and other yachts in the harbour and the residents of Brightlingsea. The scene in the church was most affecting. The wife of the fireman Currie collapsed at the graveside. The costs of the interment were defrayed by Mr. Barber, of New York, owner of the Lorena, and the bodies were interred in one huge grave.
Friday 14 August 1903 - “BOATING DISASTER AT BRIGHTLINGSEA - NINE MEN DROWNED - BOATMAN CENSURED - YACHT OWNER COMMENDED - SEVEN BURIED TOGETHER: PATHETIC SCENES.- Nine men were drowned in a boating disaster which occurred off Brightlingsea on Saturday night. The Lorena, a steam turbine yacht owned by Mr. Barber, of New York, put in to Brightlingsea last week to take in 200 tons of coal. Shortly after eleven o’clock on Saturday night the under steward (McLaren) and eight stokers left Brightlingsea Hard for the Lorena in a small ferry boat, which would have carried five persons safely. They were rowed by Wm. Annis, a boatman, who was assisted by Joseph Lock, a bricklayer. The boat behaved well in the river Colne in spite of her heavy load, but on reaching the more exposed estuary she filled and sank within four hundred yards of the Lorena.
Cries for help were heard by Mr. W. Miall Green, of Kensington, Deputy-Mayor of Brightlingsea, who was on his yacht Yolande. He at once ordered his boats out, and cruised himself in a motor launch. He picked up the boatman Annis and one of the firemen named Jamieson. Annis stated that when the boat reached mid-channel one of the firemen stood up and caused the boat to upset when about a mile from Brightlingsea Hard. Members of the Colchester River Police were quickly on the scene, and dragged the river from 3.30 until 10 a.m. Up to seven a.m. they had found five bodies, but no more could be recovered that tide. The bodies were taken to the Floating Hospital belonging to the Corporation, and were there identified by the Lorena’s second engineer. Three more bodies were recovered on Monday forenoon and taken to the hospital ship in the Colne. That of D. Wilson is still missing.
The names of the men drowned are John Currie, J. Douglas, Alexander Smith, John Johnson, John McGregor, A. Wilson, D. Wilson, F. McLaren, and Joseph Lock. Except the last-named all the drowned men belonged to Leith. All shipped at Leith, where the Lorena was built. She was proceeding to Southampton to complete her fittings.
The two rescued men were excellent swimmers. Annis, who has had many marvellous escapes on land and sea, seemed little the worse for his immersion, but he remarked that he had had a very narrow escape this time, as one of the drowning men had clasped him round the neck.
McGregor, one of the drowned, had been ashore to send his wife a remittance. He tried to return by an earlier boat, but was unable to do so.
The ferry boat was picked up by the river police, waterlogged, about 400 yards from the Lorena, and one of the drowned men was found clutching tightly at the anchor rope.
At All Saints’ Church, Brightlingsea, on Sunday, the “Dead March” in Saul was played and funeral hymns were sung, while from Nonconformist pulpits feeling allusion was made to the disaster.
The Lorena, which is said to have cost something approaching £250,000, is a twelve-hundred-ton yacht. She is the finest and fastest of her class afloat.
The inquest was held before Mr. H. Geoffrey Elwes, the Colchester Borough Coroner, on Tuesday, in the Colchester Corporation’s Hospital Ship, which is anchored about a mile and a quarter from Brightlingsea Hard. The Coroner, with the Chief Constable of Colchester (Mr. S.R. Midgley), the jurymen from Colchester, and the witnesses were taken in the river police-launch to the hospital ship, where the eight bodies recovered lay under a sail in the bows. On the Coroner’s table were nine blue handkerchiefs, each containing some articles belonging to the deceased men, with whose names they were labelled. Alongside was a whisky bottle, and on it was gummed a label, with the words, “This is the bottle which the rescued persons had.”
Mr. Charles Howe was foreman of the jury. Mr. G. Nugent Thorp, superintendent at the Mercantile Marine Office, Colchester, attended on behalf of the Board of Trade.
The Coroner, in opening the proceedings, remarked upon the sadness of the tragedy, and said it was especially melancholy, since he thought the jury would find from the evidence that there had been an exhibition of human weakness and folly, which, although it might not have been the direct cause of the tragedy, must, at any rate, have conduced to or accelerated it. He would direct special attention to the state in which the men were when they left the Hard, to the way in which they behaved while in the boat, and to the condition of the boat itself. Whether the jury could attribute blame to anyone was a matter they must decide after hearing the evidence.
Captain Henry Willis Jones, of the Lorena, said the men were allowed ashore at six p.m., and were told to return at a quarter-past nine. Six men returned at that time. So far as witness knew, the deceased were all steady men. They had been on the ship only about 16 days, but there had been no complaint about them whatever. The chief-engineer said he never had a better set of firemen, both as to civility and capability.
John Edgar Drummond, second officer of the Lorena, said he went ashore for the men at nine o’clock.- By the Coroner: Witness saw Currie and Andrew Wilson about 8.15 in a tobacconist’s shop. They were then perfectly sober, and said they would go off by the nine o’clock boat. As witness went to the Hard he met McLaren, who asked witness if he had time to go to the Post-office. Witness replied that he had not, but McLaren said he must go to the Post-office, on which witness replied that he could not wait, and that McLaren would have to find his own way to the ship unless he came at once.
By a juror: When the accident happened it was about full tide.
Second Engineer Lawrence Smith stated that most of the deceased were “runners,” but two belonged to the permanent crew of the ship.
Charles Lock, a labourer, of Brightlingsea, said his son, Joseph Lock, one of the deceased, was 28 years of age. Deceased knew very little about boating. If he could swim it was only a very little.
Robert Jamieson, of the Lorena, who was one of the two survivors in the disaster, stated that after landing at Brightlingsea he and three of his mates went into the Yachtsman’s Arms and had two penn’orth of beer. They then went up to the Post-office to join their other mates. They were going to the station, but the train was gone, so they went into another public-house, where three of them had beer and two of them had lemonade. They then went for a walk, met more of their mates, and went into another public-house at the other end of the town, where they had two pints of beer each, and stayed about half an hour. All the deceased (except McGregor, who was not with them then) had that amount of drink, and so had witness. All except McLaren then went into an hotel in the High-street, and had a glass of beer each, and afterwards had two glasses of beer each in a corner public-house. They then went back to the first public-house and got two bottles of whisky for 7s. This was about 9.45 p.m. One or two of them then wanted to look for a boatman, but instead they all “adjourned” to another hotel, where they had a pint and a half of beer each. At the last hotel, Smith - one of the deceased men - arranged with Annis to row them off to the Lorena. The landlord warned them that it was near closing time, and they started off down the Hard. One of the deceased asked a boatman further up in the town to take them across, but, said the witness, “he was an old man, and he wouldn’t take on the job.”
By the Coroner: All the men were singing and dancing on the jetty. After the boat started they put back to take in two or three more men. The boat “went fine” for 50 or 60 yards, when one of the tholes broke. Lock, at the suggestion of witness, put in one of the forward tholes. Shortly after this, Wilson took Lock’s oar, but soon ceased rowing, and Lock rowed again and broke another thole. All the party were singing. The first sign of an accident was when Currie stood up and said, “My God, the boat is sinking,” and witness saw the water rushing over the gunwale aft. The boat then sank by the stern in a few seconds. Witness went overboard, but swam around the boat for a while, looking for an oar. He saw two men struggle for an oar, while others swam off in different directions. Witness was unconscious when he was picked up. Annis did not warn them that there was any danger, but he told them to keep as quiet as they could - which they all did.
By the Foreman: Witness was not a sailor, but a fireman. He added, “We were that reckless, and we did not care. We were not sober, and not drunk; but we had as much beer as would make us careless.”
By the Chief Constable: Lock and Wilson changed seats while rowing.
Mr. W. Miall Green said that on Saturday night he was below on his yacht Yolande, when one of his boys sang out, “I believe there’s a man overboard.” Witness ordered the cutter to be lowered away, and his son and two friends went out in it, while witness, with the captain of the Yolande and two friends, got the motor launch under weigh. The cutter picked up Annis and Jamieson, but could not get the latter into the boat, and witness and the others in the launch took the men on board. Witness steamed up to the sunken boat, but found no bodies. They took Jamieson to the Lorena, and witness put Annis ashore.
Mr. Ernest Percival, landlord of the Anchor Hotel, Brightlingsea, said that at about twenty past ten on Saturday night six or seven “yachtsmen” came into his house, and were served with five pints and one glass of beer altogether. Afterwards, Wm. Annis came in, and witness’s wife refused to serve him.
The Coroner: Why?
Witness: Well, if we have a few people in, we don’t let him have a drink, because he would make such a disturbance with the others.
Witness, continuing, said the leading fireman asked witness to have a drink with him, but witness said, “No, but I’ll treat you with cigars.” Some of them had cigars instead of beer.
By the Coroner: The deceased men were “lively and jolly, but not drunk.”
The Foreman: No doubt the last pint or two “topped them up.”
Witness: I don’t think so. They were only drinking mild beer.
The Foreman: They had had seven pints.
A Juror: They couldn’t have been very strong men if they could not stand that.
By the Chief Constable: Witness believed Annis was perfectly sober. Neither witness, nor his wife, nor the barmaid served him with drink, but he believed one of the men asked him to drink some mild beer out of his mug. Witness knew that Annis was addicted to drink.- Pressed by the Chief Constable, witness said Annis might have been served without witness’s knowledge.
Dr. C.A. Squire Ling, of Brightlingsea, spoke to the cause of death having been suffocation from drowning. There were no signs of drink about the deceased.
Ernest Coppin, a lad, said he saw the boat leave the Hard on Saturday night, and noticed how deep she was in the water. The deceased Lock was standing up, and Annis was rowing. Witness could not say whether the men were sober or not. The boat put back to take in two more men.
Samuel Cutler, a coastguardsman, said he saw the boat leave the causeway at a quarter-past 11. The men seemed “joyful,” but were not drunk. Witness had on former occasions seen boats go off as badly crowded as this one. He should think there were 15 or 18 inches of freeboard “forrard.”
Alfred Savage Annis, aged 16 (nephew of the boatman Annis), said that two of the men he saw dancing on the Hard appeared the worse for drink.
Questioned by the Jury, the witness appeared uncertain as to whether the men were drunk, and admitted that he had seen plenty of sober men dancing.
ABOUT THE BOAT.
Edgar Burton, butcher, of Colne-road, Brightlingsea, said the boat was his, and he had often told Annis not to take it. On a fine day witness would not mind taking eight people in the boat.
The Foreman remarked that the deceased were “about 12-stone men.” Did not witness think three more men of that size would be too much?
The witness replied that it would be. Witness had had the boat seven years. She was about 13 feet six inches long, and was a “tight” boat.
The witness was cross-examined by Mr. Osborne, clerk to the Brightlingsea Urban Council, when the Foreman asked if this was in order.
Mr. Osborne said he wanted to show that the boat was unseaworthy.
The witness repudiated the suggestion. He would be glad if the Coroner would let him have his boat back.
The Coroner said it would be retained for the present.
The Foreman suggested that the person who sold the whisky should be called, but it was pointed out that the bottle was not opened till Jamieson and Annis had been rescued.
The inquest was adjourned until Wednesday.
Before leaving for the shore the Foreman of the jury, with Inspector Poole and several of the river police, tested the boat by getting into it, and the opinion was expressed by some of the onlookers that in smooth water it would be fairly safe.
ALLEGED CRIMINAL LIBEL.
The inquest was continued at the Colchester Town Hall on Wednesday evening.
Captain Jones, re-called, said it had come to his knowledge that a man whom he had paid off on the previous day had made certain statements to a number of the jurymen. These statements he absolutely denied; they were most unjust, and were dreadful things for a man to say in cold blood. For the protection of his cloth, he would have to prosecute him for alleged criminal libel.- Replying to a juror, the captain said there was ample room in the first boat for all the men on shore; 14 of the crew had left the yacht in it for the funeral that day, and it would have held six more. The yacht, being new, had not at that time got her own boats, and the craft in question was a “hack boat” they had picked up to get along with on their way from Leith. Several boats left the yacht during the evening.
The Foreman (Mr. Charles Howe) said he was satisfied that the first boat was sufficiently large to take all the men back.
ANNIS’S GRAPHIC STORY.
William Annis, of Johnson’s-street, Brightlingsea, said he was a mariner, and did anything else that came to hand. About ten o’clock on Saturday night he was in the Anchor Hotel. About half an hour afterwards a number of yachtsmen came in; witness did not see any of them drink anything, but witness had some porter from a friend’s mug. Jos. Lock came up to him and said, “Bill, there’s some of these chaps want to get on board the steam yacht; can you get them aboard?” Witness replied, “Yes, Joe, with your assistance.” As they were “a sober and respectable lot of chaps” he got a boat and a pair of oars. He took seven men, exclusive of Lock and himself, and started from the Causeway. They, however, put back, and took two others aboard. They pulled out into the creek, and when they had made about half the journey everything was all right. The steward was singing a little Scotch song. Witness then described the breaking of the thole-pin, but explained that this did not affect the working of the boat. The men were all sitting very quietly, six being in the stern. When the second thole-pin broke, witness advised them all to keep quiet, remarking, “You know what yachting is.” One of the men stood up, and witness repeated, “Keep quiet.” The man replied, “The boat is leaking,” and Lock said, “Where’s the baler?” The water was then over the gunwale, and, said witness, “It was done then - the boat went down.” Witness could not say exactly what happened then, for he went under water, and somebody got hold of him by the coat. As witness came up he gave a wrench and got away. As he swam clear, he floated on his back, and shouted, “Help, for God’s sake - we’re all drowning!” About six of the men were shouting for help. Several of them were better swimmers than witness. The next thing witness saw was that one or two of the men went down. Witness then described his rescue by one of the boats of Mr. Miall Green’s yacht Yolande.
By the Foreman: Witness was acquainted with Burton’s boat, and had used it many a time to row people off to Mr. Brown. Witness was a practical boatman.
“DONE IT MOMENTARY.”
Asked by the Foreman why he did not communicate with the owner before taking the boat, witness said that he “done it momentary,” and the men wanted him to take them aboard. Witness was not aware that the boat was leaky. She was not, and she was a good rowing boat. Witness was watching the boat as he rowed, and was thinking how tight she was. Witness did not know that there was a drop of whisky in the boat. It was the deceased man Lock who broke the thole, and he broke it by fair pulling - or perhaps by a little extra pulling. Everything was in order in the boat, and as for the accident, “It seemed as if it was to be.” Witness baled the boat out before he started from the Hard. He was sure that she had no water in her a minute before the accident.
By the Chief Constable: Witness had not said that when the boat got to Gazelet spit the men were humbugging him about and fooling him about. There was a notch in the stern of the boat about six inches deep, for holding an oar in sculling. It was probable that the water came in at that scull-hole.
In reply to Mr. Osborne, witness said it was before the Urban Council took over the licensing that he saw boats deeper in the water than his was.
By the Coroner: He had applied for a ferryman’s licence, and had been refused. He thought that the accident was due to the “lap” of the water over the gunwales when one of the yachtsmen stood up.
Replying to the Foreman, witness said the yacht’s crew might have had a glass or two, but went off as quiet as they would find one crew in a hundred do.
BYE-LAWS DON’T APPLY.
Frederick Salmon, ferryboat inspector, said he did not consider that Annis had any right to take money for conveying the men to the yacht, but he did not know that any of the Council’s bye-laws made it illegal to do so. They had never had a case of the sort, and the bye-laws only applied to pleasure boats. Replying to the Foreman, witness said the boat used by Annis was an old one, and was not capable of taking more than seven persons.
The Foreman remarked that at a port where hundreds of men were going backwards and forwards to yachts, the jury considered there was neglect to provide sufficient accommodation. If Annis had no right to take the men off to their yacht, why had the Council not a man down there to do it?
The Coroner (to Mr. Osborne): Have you any bye-law to provide that mariners wishing to return to their ships shall have a competent man to take them? - No, and we could only obtain it by Act of Parliament.- Witness added that altogether a man might have been refused a licence for pleasure hire, there was nothing to prevent him taking seamen to their vessels.
The Jury deliberated in private for thirty-five minutes. On their return the Foreman said their unanimous verdict was that the deceased met their deaths by drowning; that the boat used was old, badly found, and unfit for the work to which she was put; and that William Annis should be severely censured for taking the boat in the condition in which it was, and for taking so many men in her, considering the reckless condition of the seamen. The jury highly commended Mr. Miall Green for his services in saving the lives of two men, and the river police, under Sergt. French, for their untiring efforts. The jury further considered that the attention of the Board of Trade and the local authorities at Brightlingsea should be called to the absence of supervision over boats engaged for mercantile purposes. It was their opinion that it ought to be made impossible for a boat to leave the Hard in such a condition as did the boat borrowed by Annis.
Addressing Annis, the Coroner said the jury considered that if there had been a bye-law regulating the ferry traffic, and Annis had been brought in guilty of manslaughter, and had been punished, he would probably have got what he deserved. In the absence of these bye-laws, the jury was not able to bring Annis in guilty of manslaughter, but they considered that morally he was responsible to a very great degree for the sad catastrophe. “We understand,” continued the Coroner, “that you are not looked upon well in Brightlingsea, and we consider you deserve to be looked upon very badly indeed. We hope this terrible business will be a lesson to you to take greater care in future.”
The Coroner expressed the deep sympathy felt by all for the widows and children of the unfortunate men.
Capt. Jones, speaking on behalf of the owner of the Lorena, of the agents, himself and his crew, expressed their very deep regret, and spoke with feeling of the sympathy shown by Brightlingsea people at the funeral that afternoon.
FUNERAL OF THE VICTIMS.
The funeral of seven of the men took place on Wednesday afternoon, in Brightlingsea churchyard. An immense crowd attended.
The seven coffins, which were of polished elm, brass-mounted, were laid in the nave. Upon the coffins wreaths and crosses had been laid by kindly hands. Not only the officers and crew of the Lorena, but many strangers to the drowned men, sent these last tributes. Several relatives of the deceased men had come from Leith, and the scene in the church as they leaned sobbing over the remains of their loved ones was inexpressibly pathetic. The captain, officers, and crew of the Lorena marched into the church together, as did the coastguard, under Mr. Cole, and a party of the Royal Naval Reserve, under Instructor Smith. Among those also present were Captain Sycamore (of Navahoe), Captain Wenlock (of Yata), with Yata’s crew, and Captain Fieldgate (Valfreya).
Before the service, which was choral, the tunes familiar to the hymns, “Oh, come and mourn with me awhile,” and “Peace, perfect peace,” were rendered by the organist (Mr. T. Bagley). The funeral service, which opened with the singing of “A few more years shall roll,” was performed by the Rev. Arthur Pertwee (vicar), assisted by the Rev. J.L. Evans. At the close of the ante-grave service, the Vicar expressed deep sympathy with the relatives. The hymn “On the resurrection morning” was sung as the relatives left the church for the graveside, where the coffins were laid in one deep, square grave. On McLaren’s coffin someone had laid a simple bunch of wild flowers. The widow of Fireman Currie plucked two pink flowers from the wreath on his coffin and put them carefully aside. The poor woman collapsed at the graveside, and was taken away by sympathising women. Mrs. Currie had undergone an especially painful experience and severe strain, for on Friday last Currie’s brother was killed accidentally in Edinburgh, and the poor woman had just returned from the funeral when she was informed of her husband’s death. The relatives present included Mrs. McGregor, the sister and brother of the two Wilsons, and the brother of Fireman Smith. The cost of the funeral was defrayed by Mr. Barber, owner of the Lorena.
The remains of the Brightlingsea man, Joseph Lock, were interred yesterday.”
21 August 1903 - “THE BRIGHTLINGSEA BOATING DISASTER - THE LAST BODY RECOVERED - The body of Donald Wilson was found on Saturday, on the shore of St. Osyth Creek, by three smacksmen, named Barber, Woolvet, and Bryant. It was removed by the police to a shed near Brightlingsea Hard. The body was rather more disfigured than the others, as it had probably been beaten up and down the channel. It was, however, identified by the steward of the Lorena. It appearing that the corpse had been found within the jurisdiction of the county of Essex, the County Coroner (Mr. J. Harrison) was communicated with. He replied that, as an inquest had already been held on the circumstances attending the accident in which deceased lost his life, and as all the questions involved had apparently been satisfactorily settled, he should issue an order for burial, unless there was some very special reason for further inquiry. The funeral took place on Monday in All Saints’ churchyard, Brightlingsea, the body being interred beside that of Andrew Wilson, deceased’s brother, who was also drowned on the 8th inst. The service was conducted by the Rev. J.L. Evans, curate. There was a large assembly of sympathisers, including the crew of the Lorena, the coast-guards, and the local county police officers.”
31 March 1904 - “AN INCIDENT AT LEITH HARBOUR - Lord Low gave judgement to-day in an action by Archibald Mackinnon, 43 Shore, Leith, against Ramage & Ferguson, engineers. The pursuer’s steam tug Lion was, on the night of 26th March, 1903, towing defendant’s steam yacht Lorena into Leith Harbour, when a collision occurred between the vessels, and the Lion’s bulwarks were damaged, for which pursuer sought reparation. His lordship assoilizied [acquitted] the defenders with expenses, on the ground that there had been negligence on the part of those on board the Lion.”
25 May 1904 - “The steam yacht Lorena, the property of Mr. Barber, the American millionaire, has arrived at Dartmouth preparatory to crossing the Atlantic.”
Tuesday 26 May 1904 - “The American steam Yacht Lorena, which left Dartmouth at 1 p.m. yesterday for New York, is understood to be attempting to break the Atlantic yacht record. She belongs to Mr. Barber, a wealthy American.”
NEW YORK SUN - 11 June 1904 - “LORENA’S ROUGH TRIP. Amzi Lorenzo Barber’s Yacht Arrives From England - Sailor Washed Overboard. The steam yacht Lorena, owned by Amzi L. Barber, arrived here [New York] yesterday from England by way of Halifax. She steamed down the East River at 1 o’clock in the afternoon and attracted lots of attention. Over the taffrail flew the blue British ensign. The Lorena is a vessel of 2,100 tons and is fitted with turbine engines, which worked very satisfactorily on the voyage across. Owing to the rough weather the yacht experienced it was impossible to drive her much, and for a large part of the journey only two boilers were used. With these she made 11 to 12 knots an hour, and with four boilers working she can make more than 18 knots.
Capt. Jones reported that the yacht experienced high head winds and seas and had to put in to Halifax for coal. About mid-ocean Arthur Ferris of Falmouth, England, was washed overboard and lost. Capt. Jones said that the yacht was a fine sea boat, very steady, and there was no vibration from her engines. She carries a crew of 40 men. The yacht showed some of the effects of the weather she had been through. Paint was washed off the hull, particularly along the water line. She is a graceful-looking boat, with clipper bow, and is high-sided.”
NEW YORK TIMES - 12 January 1905 - “Turbine Yacht Lorena Battered - Horta, Azore Islands, Jan. 11.- The American turbine steam yacht Lorena, belonging to A.L. Barber of New York, has arrived here from New York, after experiencing boisterous weather, during which she lost her foremast and her main-topmast.”
There is an entire Lorena album of photos by Debenham of Cowes at the New York Yacht Club.
Captain Jones remained in command Lorena until February 1905 when he was replaced by Captain George Rayner of Wivenhoe.
CAPTAIN G.W. H. RAYNER
THE YACHTSMAN - 9 April 1896 - "THE COLNE. Captain Geo. Rayner, also of Wyvenhoe, and who has sailed the Sunrise for Mr. Jesse Coope for about ten years, is appointed to the command of a similar yacht building at Troon for Mr. Drexel."
YACHTING WORLD - 12 November 1897 - “WELL-KNOWN SKIPPERS - CAPTAIN G.W. RAYNER.
CAPTAIN G.W. RAYNER, of the auxiliary screw schooner Sunrise, owned by Mr. E. Jesser Coope, has had a very extended and varied career. He joined the Sunrise as its skipper in 1887, and was kept actively employed for four years, spending the whole of the winter months abroad, and cruising in home waters during the summer. He was also engaged for six months looking after Mr. Anthony J. Drexel’s s.y. Margarita, 122 tons, while it was building at Troon. He then made a voyage on the boat to New York, where he remained for three months, and afterwards made a trip to Bermuda. A cruise in the Mediterranean and a voyage back to the Clyde followed, Captain Rayner leaving the boat there owing to the owner having engaged an American skipper. Outside yachting Mr. Rayner has had considerable experience in the Mercantile Marine, serving for four years on a London ship trading with the East Indies. He afterwards went into steam, and passed as master in 1879, having successively command of three large steamers engaged in the foreign trade. Fourteen years ago Captain Rayner brought a steam yacht from Antigua to London for Mr. Duncan under canvas, this being his first command on a yacht.
The owner of the Sunrise gave a dinner to Captain Rayner and the crew on Wednesday last week at the Fountain Hotel, Cowes, to mark the winding up of a very enjoyable summer season.”
ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD - Saturday 25 February 1905 - “WYVENHOE - SAD FATALITY TO A WYVENHOE YACHT CAPTAIN - On Thursday morning the sad news reached Wyvenhoe of the death on the previous day under painfully distressing circumstances of Captain George Rayner, of Wyvenhoe. Deceased only left home on the Friday of last week for Southampton to take charge for the first time of the steel screw steamer Lorena, belonging to Mr. A.L. Barber, of New York, and now chartered for a time by Mr. Singer, of the Singer Sewing Machine Co. No details of the accident are available up to the time of going to press, but it is stated that deceased whilst on duty on the bridge fell down the steps and fractured his skull. The Lorena had been out to adjust compasses and was to have sailed for the Mediterranean the following day. The inquest took place yesterday (Friday), and the remains will be conveyed by rail to Wyvenhoe to-day (Saturday). The Lorena appears to be a particularly unfortunate craft, 13 lives, it is said, having at different times been lost from her officers and crew, it undoubtedly being fresh in the minds of many that 9 men’s lives were lost off Brightlingsea last summer from this craft. Captain Rayner, who was 50 years of age this week, was a very heavy man, which naturally rendered a fall of the above description very dangerous. He was of jovial disposition, greatly beloved and a general favourite in Wyvenhoe, and his death comes as a great blow to his aged father and relatives.”
ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD - Saturday 4 March 1905 - “THE FUNERAL OF THE LATE CAPTAIN G.W.H. RAYNER OF WYVENHOE - The remains of the late Captain George William Heath Rayner, whose death under such tragic circumstances was noted in our last issue, arrived at Wyvenhoe, from Southampton, by the 1.23 p.m. train on Saturday last.
On the Wednesday of the accident a gale was blowing, and the Lorena experienced great difficulty in getting out of dock, from whence she proceeded down the Solent for the purpose of adjusting compasses. When off Cowes, close to East Lepe, as the yacht was coming back to anchor, Captain Rayner was proceeding down the stairs to his cabin with Captain Mondell, of Cowes, (a visitor on board with Mr. Frank Singer), and when on the third stair he appears to have turned, in order to go down backwards, and missing his footing fell with great force to the bottom, striking his head on the deck at the back of the left ear, inflicting a fracture 2¾ inches deep, death being instantaneous. Deceased’s weight was between 17 and 18 stone. In his fall he grasped hold of Captain Mondell, who also fell to the bottom with him and became unconscious for some time. The yacht at once returned to Southampton, arriving about 5 o’clock, the body being conveyed to the mortuary about 11 p.m. Everything that was possible was done under the circumstances, great kindness being shown on all sides. The stairs from which deceased fell, which ran from the chart room, were long, but steep and narrow. At the inquest, held on Friday, syncope following fracture was stated to be the cause of death by Dr. O’Meara, and a verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned. The body was identified by Mr. Martin Rayner, brother of deceased, Mr. Arthur Rayner being also present.
Mr. Jones, the American Vice Consul, expressed regret at the occurrence, which he said had cast quite a gloom over the yacht, on which on the very day of the fatal accident three men were somewhat severely injured during the undocking of the craft.
The turbine steam yacht Lorena, 1,406 tons, which was only built in 1903, has already had a most eventful career. Leaving the builder’s hands for Southampton, she put in at Brightlingsea, and whilst there nine lives were lost owing to the capsizing of a shore boat. She was fitted out for America at Southampton, and on the passage another life was lost overboard. On the return voyage only this year she again encountered very heavy weather, and lost her foremast, besides other damage. The yacht was chartered by Mr. A.M. Singer, and Captain Rayner, who is the victim of the last accident, was appointed to her only last week, and would have left in charge the day following the accident for a cruise of three months in the Mediterranean.
Deceased was one of the most able of the Colne certificated yacht masters, and has had a somewhat eventful career. Early in life he entered the merchant service, being apprentice in the Roman Empire, belonging to Mr. George Duncan and Mr. A.O. Wilkinson, in the Indian-Australian trade. After this he took to steam in the employ of Messrs. Watts, Ward, and Co. At the early age of 25 deceased took charge of a yacht bringing the s.y. Union, belonging to Mr. G. Duncan, home from the West Indies, and followed this by taking command of Mr. Jesse Coope’s s.y. Sunrise, which boat, it will be remembered, was later placed at the service of the Government as a hospital ship during the recent Boer War in South Africa. Captain Rayner next had charge of Mr. Drexel’s s.y. Margarita, 122 tons, during which time he was presented by Mr. and Mrs. Drexel with a handsome gold watch, in recognition of his valued service. Later, Captain Rayner had under his command the Earl of Lathom’s yacht Morven, 350 tons, and from the latter boat had, as before stated, only just been appointed master of the Lorena, owned by Mr. A.L. Barber, of New York. Deceased was a prominent Freemason, being a member of the Colne Lodge, Wyvenhoe, and Patriotic Chapter, Colchester.
Deceased was for over 20 years a member of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, and was a prominent Buffalo, being Primo of Globe Lodge R.A.O.B.
THE FUNERAL - took place on Tuesday, February 28, when the remains were interred in Wyvenhoe Cemetery, the coffin being borne to its last resting place by yacht hands, in their blue jerseys.
The massive coffin was of polished oak, the Masonic emblem of the square and compass, together with a brass plate inscribed as following being affixed:-
GEORGE WILLIAM HEATH RAYNER,
Died February 22nd, 1905,
Aged 49 years.
The remains were conveyed to the church, where a large congregation gathered to pay their last tribute of respect, and from thence to the cemetery. The Rector (Rev. Sinclair Carolin) officiated. All along the line of route not a single house was to be seen where blinds were not drawn and shutters closed. Bro. Fred J. Lax presided at the organ, and as the body was borne from the scared edifice played the Dead March in Saul.
The mourners were as follows:- First carriage - Capt. W. Rayner (father), Miss. Grace Rayner (sister), Mr. Martin Rayner (brother), Miss. Minnie Rayner (sister).
Second carriage - Mr. Arthur Rayner (brother), Mrs. Arthur Rayner, Mr. W. Forsgate (cousin), Mrs. W.H. Ham (cousin).
Third carriage - Mr. H. Lilley (cousin), Mrs. E. Papworth (cousin), Captain W.H. Ham (cousin), Miss. Curtis.
Fourth carriage - Mr. T. Haynes (London) representing Mr. Andrew Thompson and a great friend, Capt. Frost (Brightlingsea).
The coffin was covered with the Union Jack, and a magnificent collection of floral tributes, amongst which were the following:- Wreath. “In affectionate and loving remembrance of dear George from his loving father, brothers and sisters”; wreath, “With kind memories of dear George from his affectionate cousin,” Mrs. M.T. Papworth, Clacton; wreath, “In loving memory of a dear friend,” from Mr. and Mrs. G.C. Cooke, Southampton; heart, “With the deepest sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Haynes, London; wreath, “In loving memory of a dear old friend,” from Mr. J.T., Mrs. and Miss. Grace Bailey, Colchester; wreath, “With kind regards and sincere sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Claridge, Colchester; wreath, “In remembrance,” from Mr. and Miss. Curtis, Ardleigh, Colchester, late of the Hall, Wenham; wreath, “With kind remembrance and deep respect to Capt. George Rayner,” from his sorrowing friends at the Globe Hotel, Southampton: anchor, “With sincere sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Worsp, Wyvenhoe; wreath; “With deepest sympathy,” from Mrs. Madden and Jessie, Wyvenhoe; wreath, “With deep regret and sympathy,” from the W.M. and Brethren of Colne Lodge No.2477; anchor, “With deepest sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Bishop, Southampton; wreath, “A token of respect and deepest sympathy,” from the members of Globe Lodge, R.A.O.B., Southampton; wreath, “Deepest sympathy,” from captain H. Willis Jones (late captain of S.Y. Lorena); cross, “With sincerest sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. F. Chapman, Colchester; cross, “Deep sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Wareham, Bournemouth; wreath, “With deep sympathy,” from Mrs. Kitchener, Winterdyne, Bournemouth; wreath, “A mark of sincere regards,” from H. and R. Ham, Abberton; wreath, “With deepest sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Pooley and family, Colchester; spray, “With deepest sympathy and in loving memory of a dear old friend,” Mr. A. Bailey, Colchester; “Safe at last, the harbour’s past; Safe in our Father’s Home.”
Amongst those who were present at the graveside were included the following freemasons:- Messrs. Thos. J. Railing, Provincial Grand Secretary, J.T. Bailey (W.M. Colne Lodge), C.A. Ellis, Gustavius Pratt, G.A. Eustace, J. Cairns, K. Bowles, J. Bowles, W. Blyth, H.R. Oakley, G.W. Mitchell, W. Taylor, T. Ennew, E. Ennew, J. Potton, T.W. Goodwin, John Carter, *. F. Smith, F.R. Howard, J. Turff, J.W. Pittuck, E. Harvey, J. Husk, H. Harvey, G. Norfolk, T. Fale, H.J. Bird, L.C. Cockrell, D.F. Warner, P.E. Chamberlain, J. Munson, H. How, G. Bird, H. Sargeant, W. Cranfield, W. Hadley, J.(R or K). Heath, W. Harlow, A. McAllan, J.H. Brown, Dr. G.P. Smith, J. Worsp, D. Ham, J. Trayler, and C. Fisher; also Messrs. J. Moore, A. Garrett, D.W. Simmons, J. M***, M.J. Mason, B.A. Barr, A. Vinson, F.W. Smith, W. Ham, G. Pudney, senior, G. Pudney, junior, *** Barnard, J.H. Ham, N. Ham, ***, W. Webb, H. Wadley, H. Child, A. Child, Rev. W.R. Tyler, W. Wadley, J. Brown, R. Cracknell, O.W. (Salisbury?) Daldy (Colchester), J. Pooley (Colchester), Miss. Bailey (Colchester), Mrs. Warner (Colchester).
Great sympathy is felt throughout the town with deceased’s father, who is now 81, and with the bereaved relatives. Deceased, who was unmarried, had three brothers and one sister in Australia.”
Capt. Wm. Rayner and family desire to return their HEARTFELT THANKS to all for the great kindness and sympathy shown to them in their sudden and heavy bereavement.
High Street, Wyvenhoe,
February 28, 1905.”
[Morven, 255 gross tonnage, built Greenock 1886, steel, Signal code K.F.W.P. 157ft long, 22ft wide. Registered London 1899. Lloyd’s alphabetical list of British registered steam vessels]
In 1907 Lorena was bought by American railway baron George Jay Gould and renamed Atalanta.
"7 August 2013 - VICTIMS OF HISTORIC BOAT TRAGEDY TO BE HONOURED AT SERVICE - A memorial service will be held at All Saints Church, Brightlingsea, at 2pm tomorrow to mark the 110th anniversary of the deaths of nine men who drowned when their boat sank just off the coast of Brightlingsea. One of the local men and one of Lorena’s crew were rescued but the other nine, including Brightlingsea man Joseph Lock, died at sea.
Mr. Lock worked as a bricklayer in the town and had been loading coal for the yacht to earn extra money to support his wife and children.
The group of Scottish sailors from the Lorena have lain in an unmarked grave for more than a century are to be honoured with a memorial service on the anniversary of the tragedy which took their lives.
Days after the burial a memorial service was held at the site, but it is believed tomorrow's service will be the first event to commemorate the event since 1903.
Steps are also being taken to create a permanent memorial to the crew mates. Despite the men’s identities being known, no headstone was put up and the grave at All Saints Church remains unmarked 110 years later."