The story of SS Daphne

It was on Tuesday 3rd July 1883 that the SS Daphne was launched in the shipyard of Alexander Stephen & Sons in Govan, Glasgow. Around 200 workmen were on board the ship at the time it was launched, ready to begin fitting out work as soon as she was properly afloat. According to the usual practice during a launching, anchors were attached by cable to each side of the ship but, as the Daphne moved into the river, the anchors failed to stop the ship’s forward progress. The starboard anchor moved only 6 or 7 yards but the port anchor was dragged 60 yards. As the current of the river caught Daphne it flipped her over onto her port side, sinking her into deep water.  Some 70 lives were saved, but around 125 died – though some put the sum nearer 200.  This disaster including many young boys, some of whose relatives watched the ceremony from shore.

An inquiry was held afterward and the shipyard owners were held blameless.  However, this led to claims of a cover-up. The cause of the disaster was reported to be little initial stability combined with too much loose gear and too many people aboard.  One of the outcomes of the disaster was that from times forward there would be a limiting of personnel aboard and such operation to only those necessary for mooring the ship after the launch.

The Daphne was later raised, repaired, and renamed the Rose.


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