On the night of 30/31 January 1953 a great storm blew in from the North Atlantic bringing with it hurricane force winds gusting to 112 mph, sleet and snow. Conditions at sea cannot be imagined. Off the west coast of Scotland three ships were in trouble, lifeboat services went to assist but struggled in the conditions at the height of the storm.
The three vessels were a 7000t cargo steamer, a Fleetwood steam trawler and a passenger ferry, all met with the same fate……..shipwreck. The story featured within this blog post is about the Clan MacQuarrie, a large cargo vessel that was driven ashore on the north west coast of the Isle of Lewis. Fortunately the vessel was driven high up the beach at Borve and all 66 crew were safely rescued by the Stornoway Life Saving Corps and local residents. As for the Clan MacQuarrie read the article here.
The two other vessels were less fortunate they were both taken by the sea and will lie in deep water. The Fleetwood trawler Michael Griffiths and her 13 crew went down less than 10 miles south of Barra Head after she lost steam in mountainous seas. The second vessel was the passenger ferry Princess Victoria which went down in the North Channel with the loss of around 133 passengers and crew.
With shipwrecks around the British coastline and damage and destruction ashore, this storm must at the time, have been the worst in living memory.