Sunday 24 June 2012

The Crash Of The Elysium

You may have read recently that I was fortunate enough to win tickets to see The Crash Of The Elysium in Ipswich. Well this past weekend was when I got to go!

The event itself is in the form of a council-funded local exhibition, taking place in a purpose-built tent not far from the New Wosley Theatre in central Ipswich.

The Elysium was the flagship of the Mayfield Star Line, and was launched in 1888 by the Princess Helena, herself a veteran of over thirty voyages.

The ship had not long been in service when it catastrophically ran aground on rocks on the south coast of England.

The Elysium was carrying a cargo of valuable metals, including ingots of gold, as well as a quantity of industrial machine parts for the cotton trade. At the time the value of the lost gold ingots has been estimated at over one thousand pounds, now several million by today’s standards.

Also on board was a confidential cargo being transported under government warrant.

Mystery surrounds the circumstances of the wrecking, as no storm warning was issued in that sector, and weather conditions were described as calm.

Captain T. A. Solomon, the ship’s skipper, as well as the rest of the eight man crew were reported as being lost at sea to the coastguard’s office in the early hours of that fateful morning.

It wasn’t long before salvage rights were being contested by several local agencies.

Despite speculation as to the secret nature of the government cargo, Whitehall refused to comment on the nature of the artifact or artifacts. Crew records left at Mortimer House suggest the cargo may have been a statue, possibly of some value. Several eye witnesses to the disaster describe the figure of a woman emerging from the wreckage, one going so far to suggest she resembled an angel in appearance, but such reports were dismissed as wild fancy.

The exhibition on show at Ipswich goes into great detail about the history of the ship; its construction long -side its sister ship; with many recovered artifacts from the wreckage and commemorative mementos contemporary to the time.

Our tour of the exhibition was greatly aided by the curator who joined us to guide us around the many display cases and photographs on offer. He presented a short visual slideshow of pictures of the crew of the ill-fated liner, as well as showing us the Elysium being built and its launch which was witness by a crowd of thousands.

And that is really as much as I can write about my trip, as after that point things really started to take a dramatic turn about which I feel I cannot speak.

The shared experiences of myself and the others in our twenty-strong tour party will be something no doubt we will carry for many years to come. It was shocking, and at times truly disturbing.

I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!!!


Further reading about
The Crash Of The Elysium can be found here

North West Historical Society
The Elysium crahses!

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