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Sat May 23 7:03 pm  #1

Govan's saddest ever day

Book Extract (A Time in Govan)

At Linthouse a few large ships sail past delaying the crossing of the passenger ferries. The swell from the boats dances up the steps reaching almost half way up. As Ruth looks down at the calming river she is aware of a terrible disaster not so far away at Stephens many years before, frequently told to her by her father Boab.  Boab had worked at Alexander Stephens and Sons for many years and talked about what he was told about the tragedy.
   A memorial in Govan remembers the events.
In 1883 the SS Daphne was launched from Alexander Stephens. Around 200 men and boys were on board and it was a happy day to start off with. The ship was sent towards the River Clyde with the two drag anchors restraining the ship from entering the water too quickly.
The crowd on the bank watched; many with family and relatives on the ship.    They were excited and waved. Suddenly the port anchor moved some 60 yards while the starboard anchor stalled at 5 to 6 yards.
   A swell on the River Clyde caught the ship tilting it over. Initially, it seemed to correct itself but another wave from the River Clyde at high tide caused the Daphne to capsize. All the  loose weight had been thrown to one side of the ship and most of the people on board were trapped under the ship as desperate efforts were made to get them out of the water.
   Some managed to get to safety but most were drowned. 124 men and boys died at the scene with those on the bank watching on in horror. The ship was re-floated some days later and taken to Govan Dry Dock. The subsequent enquiry cleared the Shipyard of all blame amid accusations of a cover up However, some key recommendations were given. 
A)        On launching, a ship must only have on board the minimum number of people to operate the vessel.
B)              All hatches must be closed on launch.
C)              All equipment on the deck must be securely fastened down.
   The three failures above were contributory to the disaster


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