1953 – The Princess Victoria, a British Railways car ferry steamer, bound for Larne in Northern Ireland, sinks in the Irish Sea in one of the worst gales in living memory, claiming the lives of 133 passengers and crew. Among the passengers who perish are the Northern Ireland Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Major J. M. Sinclair, and Sir Walter Smiles, the Ulster Unionist MP for North Down.

Sixty one years ago today, 133 people lost their lives when the Princess Victoria sank off Northern Ireland’s coast. It was one of the UK’s worst post-war sea tragedies yet today the terrible loss is barely remembered by the wider public.

It was one of the UK’s worst peacetime sea disasters. The lives of 133 people were lost when the car ferry Princess Victoria sank in a ferocious gale off the Co Down coast on 31 January 1953.

Not one woman or child on board survived, and it is regarded as “a generation’s Titanic” — but very little is known about the tragedy outside Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The roll-on roll-off ferry went down with only 44 survivors — all men — out of 177 people who set out that stormy morning on the short crossing from Scotland.

Annual commemorations are held in Larne and Donaghadee and memorials also stand in Larne, Stranraer and Donaghadee.

Many of the victims were from Northern Ireland and in Larne, and most families were said to be affected in some way.



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