Donaghadee RNLI Recall Princess Victoria Tragedy

Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat Lays Floral Tribute to Commemorate Princess Victoria Disaster.

The Princess Victoria which sank in the North Channel in 1953 with 133 people losing their lives. 

The crew of Donaghadee RNLI lifeboat put to sea on Sunday (27 January ) morning for their fortnightly exercise and also to lay a floral tribute on behalf of the Sir Samuel Kelly Project.

The volunteer crew paid their respects to all those who lost their lives 66 years ago on the 31st January 1953 with the loss of the MV Princess Victoria in the North Channel.

It was poignant that weather conditions on Sunday 27 January would have been akin to that experienced by the crews of Donaghadee, Portpatrick, Cloughey & Newcastle RNLI lifeboats and all the other vessels on that day as they battled to render assistance to those in peril.

A large wave battered the rear of the  vessel and the doors on the car deck were breached. Water poured onto the deck and the Princess Victoria listed to the starboard and began to sing. The call to abandon ship was given and lifeboats were launched. See conditions at the time were severe probably a bad Force 8 to 9 blowing.

Fishing vessels from ports along the County Down coast retrieved bodies from the sea, and in Ardglass a number of bodies arrived and were kept in the old Fishermen’s Rest building, since demolished, on way to the morgue in Downpatrick.

A commemoratative wreath was put into the sea by the lifeboats Second Coxswain, John Ashwood who said:  “It was an honour to put to sea today and lay a tribute on behalf of the Sir Samuel Kelly Project to remember the 133 souls that were lost.

“It was very fitting that the conditions were challenging and made it even more poignant to think of what our former crew members had to face on that occasion.”

Donaghadee lifeboat station has been operating since 1910. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to: