Boating Disasters in Morecambe Bay – Simon Williams

Simon Williams, chairman of the Mourholme local history society which covers the Carnforth, Arnside and Silverdale area gave a lively and interesting talk in April 2017 about two boating disasters in Morecambe Bay. The first known as the Kent’s bank tragedy of 1850 involved the North family and their guests from Know Hill Lodge, Lineth ( the name was changed to Silverdale in 1930) The  family and boatmen set off for lunch in Kent’s Bank Hotel in a Lancashire Nobby but the young men and boatsmen delayed their return by visiting the bar. Tragedy struck whilst they were rowing back and a verdict of accidental death was reported.

The other accident happened in 1894 and involved members of the Riley family,mill workers from Queen St. Burnley, during their September Wakes week holiday to Morecambe : its details survive due to the daughter Fanny’s diary. A thirty three foot Lancashire Nobby called the Matchless overloaded with 34 day trippers ,was being sailed single handed by Samuel Houghton from Morecambe to Kent’s Bank via Jenny Brown Point. The boat was caught broadside by a gust of wind at Jenny Brown Point and it sank in seconds. Very few of them could swim and their clogs hindered them despite help from a nearby boat. Fanny Riley 9 and her brother Ben 7 and an engaged couple were amongst the 9 survivors. The King’s Arms in Morecambe acted as both a mortuary and the location where the inquest was held. Identification of the bodies was left to the landladies in Morecambe. Despite being overloaded, the authorities accepted no responsibility for the inadequate licensing  regulations.

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