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A report of the launch of the Alice A Leigh, extracted from the Cumberland Pacquet, Thursday the  4th of July 1889.

Transcribed by Geoff Royle, 1 November 2012 (webmaster, and a relation of Lady Alice A Leigh).  

All rights of the above and their successors acknowledged.



"A fine four masted sailing ship, Alice A Leigh - - - - the name of the Mayoress of Stockport, was announced in our last issue to be launched from the Whitehaven Shipyard, and details of the new vessel, which is the largest on this coast are given. Her dimensions are : Length 331 feet ; Breadth 46 feet ; Depth 27 feet 4 inches, and her gross tonnage 3000. In appearance,  proportion, and everything for utility and the purpose for which she is intended, this vessel - - - - like all turned out by the Whitehaven Shipping Company - - - - is a paragon.
On Saturday morning 
(29 June, ed.) just before high water - - - - this being the lowest spring-tide of the year - - - - everything was in readiness for the launch. A platform was erected as usual at the bow. And on this stood the Mayoress, who was to christen the vessel, and a large number of lady visitors, and several of the principals of the Company. The day being exceptionally fine and the launch of so large a vessel an uncommon attraction there was an immense assemblage of spectators on the beach and North Pier. At about half-past eleven the vessel was started on its ways, the Mayoress swung the bottle of wine - - - - which hung by a ribbon decorated with flowers - - - - against the bow and named the ship in due form, and the spectators gave a cheer. The vessel slid down steadily and came to a stand with about half her length in the water. Everybody was surprised and  disappointed. The steam tugs which were awaiting to guide her into the dock were connected with tow-ropes, and endeavours were made to free the Alice A Leigh from the little hitch and induct the good ship to her natural element ; but she remained stationary in spite of all efforts. Twice in each twenty-four hours up to last night, efforts have been made with tugs, manual labour and hydraulic engines to draw, lift, or force the vessel to take to the water without success.
On Tuesday afternoon, while preparations were being made for another attempt to float the vessel, she suddenly ran into the sea, and stood upright 
wholly below the high water line. Yesterday no fewer than three tugs - - - - the Prince of Wales of  Whitehaven, and Rocklight and  Confidence of Workington, and also a screw steamer were connected with the new vessel, and for an hour or two they tugged away, while hundreds of people were looking on, but the Alice A Leigh would not stir.
At high water this morning the tugs Prince of Wales and Rocklight were joined by the Gamecock, and Knight St John of Liverpool. The last named came up within a few minutes of the height of the tide and was soon connected, and immediately she strained the rope the Alice A Leigh glided gracefully out to sea at 2 50 a.m. (Thursday ed.) amid the cheers of the onlookers. As the vessel floated out cheers were given for 'Mr Johnston', 'Mr Keith', and the ' Whitehaven Shipbuilding Company '. The appointed master of the new vessel Captain J. Belyea, who was present, will remain to watch the fitting up of the vessel and take charge of her when she leaves port.

Unfortunately several men and lads were injured from various causes.  Four or five men were injured through a scaffold giving way on Saturday but only two received injuries of a serious nature.  Albert Wain, an apprentice caulker, was taken to the Infirmary, and was found to be suffering from slight concussion of the brain ; but he left on Monday night considerably improved.  John Holt, foreman rivetter of Duke-street, who received a scalp  wound and had his head injured by a piece of iron falling upon it, was taken to the Infirmary, but was so well after treatment that he was able to leave in the evening.  Joseph Sanderson, aged 30, of 82 George Street, got his hand injured, and was taken to the Infirmary on Sunday and is going on well.  Three men Corkhill, Gaitskell, and Farrer, and a lad named Scott, also received slight injuries."



The Whitehaven News reported that "one of the men ( probably Mr Sanderson ) on board the Alice A Leigh caught his finger with a rope, and had the top of his finger taken off ".


This photograph was not included in the above article.

Waiting for the tug-boats

" The vessel slid down steadily and came to a stand with about half her length in the water. "

Original photographer unknown; image c.22 June 1889, now out of copyright.
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