Southampton Old Cemetery
Douro Memorial*edit 4 Dec 2008
html problem / bright colours and inability to leave comments has been fixed
I mentioned Royal Mail Steam Packet Douro in my notes about the Rhone and Wye Memorial - here -
. She is the vessel that carried the news of their loss back to England.
Sadly Douro was lost just a few years later, in a tragic accident.
Details are online elsewhere, but in brief, she was on her way from Rio de Janiero to Southampton, via Lisbon and was carrying a number of wealthy passengers, mail (for which Royal Mail Line had a contract) and a valuable cargo.
Having let 150 passengers off in Lisbon she was making very good time across the Bay of Biscay, at night, with deck lights still on. Navigation lights of an approaching vessel were recorded, it was assumed this vessel would pass astern, as normal, but it was not to be. At approximately 22:45 hrs the Yrurac Bat, a Spanish passenger liner out of Corunna, struck the Douro amidships.
There was some initial panic, as you would expect, women and children were put into lifeboats first. The crew went down with the ship, which sank within 30 minutes of the collision. Yrurac Bat also foundered.
The steamer, Hidalgo, was on hand to pick up survivors, but a total of 59 passengers and crew drowned.
The wreck was discovered in 1995. It was emptied of all relics using a modified drilling rig to "scoop up the cargo
" and any incidental artefacts, which were put up for sale.
Various organisations and groups believe wrecks are a time capsule for archaeologists, that their contents should either be left where they are or, if artefacts are brought to the surface, they should be conserved and kept safe - either for research or put public display for the benefit of the wider population such as The Mary Rose in Portsmouth.
There has been significant international pressure to initiate a UNESCO Convention - here -
and - here -
to protect wrecks that lie in international waters.
The concept doesn't appeal to wreck hunters who believe that the Titanic might not have been found had this been in place at the time. They also believe that if they put personal money towards searching for a wreck, which can take many years, there should be a profit if it is found, or at least full repayment of their expenses that can run into millions.
I can't say which point of view is right, although I have visited the Mary Rose
in Portsmouth and know that it was the first time any modern person had seen many of the smaller items that were recovered - including the first ever Tudor arrows.
My picture shows the front of the memorial, which is in Southampton because it was the vessel's home port, and also home to many of those who were lost.
TO THE MEMORY OF
CAPTAIN E. C. KEMP
THE OFFICERS, ENGINEERS & CREW
OF THE ROYAL MAIL STEAM PACKET
COMPANY'S SHIP "DOURO"
WHO PERISHED AT SEA
ON THE 1ST APRIL 1883
NOBLY SACRIFICING THEIR OWN LIVES
THAT OTHERS MIGHT BE SAVED
To the left of front:-
To the right of front:-
BY THEIR BROTHER OFFICERS
To the rear, the names:-
E. C. KEMP COMMANDER
A.H. TONGUE CHIEF OFFICER E. BURY A.B.
F. LUCE 3rd Do J.T. MILLER F.M.
P.C. ATHERLEY 4th Do E. ADAMS C.T.
H. WHITROW PURSER S. THORNE Do
W. YOUNG CHIEF ENGR C. SENIOR SCULLION
R. CHILD 2nd Do H.E. SYMONDS CAPTn SERVt
J. MARSHALL BOATSWAIN J. NUNES STEWARD.