Essex: Victims of historic boat tragedy to be honoured at service

Steam yacht Atalanta which was formerly known as the Lorena

Steam yacht Atalanta which was formerly known as the Lorena - Credit: Archant

A group of sailors who 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.

Steps are also being taken to create a permanent memorial to the crew mates, who drowned off the coast of Brightlingsea in 1903, after stopping refuel with coal.

The men, who were from Leith in Scotland, worked in the engine room of the steam yacht Lorena, which was at the time one of the most advanced ships in the world.

The eight men from the Lorena were buried in a mass grave, with Joseph Lock, from Brightlingsea, buried alongside them. The victims were John Currie, 47, James Douglas, 46, Alexander Smith, 36, John McLean-Johnson, 26, John Boyd McGregor, 25, brothers Andrew, 31, and David Wilson, 26 and Frederick Richard McLaren, 25.

But despite the men’s identities being known, no headstone was put up and the grave at All Saints Church remains unmarked 110 years later.


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Roger Tabor, of Cinque Port Liberty of Brightlingsea, is hoping to contact descendants of the families to secure their support for a lasting memorial. The memorial service will take place at the grave at All Saints Church, Brightlingsea, at 2pm today.

Anyone with information on the men’s descendants should contact the church by email to revhowson@gmail.com

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