Ship history is preserved by Wrexham historian

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

A PIECE of maritime history picked up for a bargain price at an auction is to be incorporated in a museum display commemorating the disaster it is associated with.

As the Leader revealed last week, naval historian and author John Lawton of Pentre Maelor, Wrexham paid just £54 for a pair of binoculars which have a direct link to one of the worst sea disasters of the last century.

The hospital ship Rohilla sank with the loss of 85 lives as she battled through a gale off the port of Whitby in North Yorkshire not long after the start of World War One in October 1914.

Six lifeboats from various towns along the coast turned out to help rescue survivors.

Among them was the boat from Teeside, which fought through mountainous seas to reach the wreck and herself almost foundered.

To mark the bravery of her crew the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) presented the binoculars, bought at Wingett’s auction house in Wrexham by Mr Lawton to their secretary.

Mr Lawson, who is treasurer of the Royal Naval Association in Llangollen, is a regular visitor to the lifeboat museum in Whitby and decided the most appropriate place for them to be was in the special display there, which commemorates the loss of the Rohilla and includes a number of other artifacts linked to the ship.

So on his latest trip there, he officially handed them over to Peter Thomson from the museum.

Mr Lawson said: “I go up there quite a lot so I thought it would be nice to add the binoculars to the display. I think I was quite lucky to get them and the price wasn’t as high as I expected.

See full story in the Leader

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