Brig Lily: New memorial to 1852 maritime tragedy to be unveiled

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By Ewan Gawne

BBC Isle of Man

The lives of 29 men from a small village who were killed in a maritime explosion more than 170 years ago are to be commemorated with a new plaque.

The blast happened on the Brig Lily, which was wrecked on Kitterland on 28 December 1852.

The men from Port St Mary were killed attempting to salvage the ship’s cargo, which included gunpowder.

Commissioner Bernadette Williams said the tragedy had a huge impact on the village at the time.

Twenty-two widows and 77 orphans were left behind in the village by the 29 men who perished in the explosion, which contemporary accounts said could be heard from 18 miles (29km) away.

The new plaque is to be unveiled in the village on Sunday, after one previously on display was damaged beyond repair several years ago.

Mr Williams told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s so important because of the number of lives that were impacted.”


Image caption,

A memorial to those killed in the disaster on display at Kirk Christ Rushen Churchyard

A storm had forced the Brig Lily to anchor off the by Calf of Man before the ship was wrecked on the rocks of a small islet called Kitterland.

Five of a crew of 13 were killed trying to escape the ship, which had been bound for Africa from Liverpool with cargo including cloth, rum, firearms, and gunpowder.

Survivors were helped by people from nearby Port St Mary, who returned to vessel the next day to salvage cargo when the fatal blast took place.

Descendants of those killed have been invited to a memorial the service in Port St Mary on Sunday, when the village commissioners will unveil the new plaque at the local Garden of Remembrance.

Mrs Williams said: “Port St Mary has always had a strong community spirit and history tells us that the village really pulled together at this time of tragedy.