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The Wreck of the Orion

Period:
19th Century
Description:

This simple, high-backed chair was made with timber salvaged from the 'Orion'. The 'Orion' was an iron paddle steamer built in Greenock in 1846. She was wrecked off Portpatrick in 1850.

On 17th June 1850 the ‘Orion’ left Liverpool for Glasgow with 37 crew and 160 passengers on board. Early the next morning, navigating in a thick mist, she struck a submerged rock just off the entrance to Portpatrick Harbour. A huge hole was torn in two of the ship’s watertight compartments and her bulkhead was also badly damaged. Three lifeboats were launched but two capsized in the panic to evacuate the ship. The ‘Orion’ sank before she could be reached by rescue boats and at least 60 passengers lost their lives.

A memorial to the drowned passengers can be seen built into the wall of Portpatrick old churchyard. Many of the dead were Methodist mininsters from Lancashire and Cheshire who had been traveling to a conference in Glasgow.

The tragedy was blamed on two of the ‘Orion’s’ officers. Her master, Captain Henderson, was found guilty of neglecting his duty and spent 18 months in Perth prison. The second mate was sentenced to be transported to Australia for seven years.

The ship was salvaged and many fixtures and fittings were bought and reused in the local area. In addition to the chair shown here Stranraer Museum also has a glass-fronted cabinet made with timber salvaged from the wreck.

A collection in Glasgow raised £200 which was distributed among the villagers in Portpatrick to thank them for the help they given to the survivors.

Place of Production:
Wigtownshire
Materials/Media:
wood
Dimensions:
height 1050mm, width 500mm
Source:
Stranraer Museum
Accession number:
WIWMS:1987.370
Digital Number:
SRFU001a, SRFU001b
Creation Date:
1850
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council


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