MV Princess Victoria disaster: rare photos and survivor statements in Larne Library display

Larne Library is to host a display featuring statements from survivors of the MV Princess Victoria disaster and rare historical photographs of the ship.
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The documents, including testimonies of passengers, crew, rescuers, and maritime experts connected with the formal investigation into the loss of the ferry in treacherous waters in the Irish Sea in 1953, will go on show in Larne on 22 January. They are part of an ongoing regional tour of libraries by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

A selection of black and white photographs of the Princess Victoria between 1949 and 1953, and a poster advertising a fundraising raffle in aid of the subsequent disaster fund will also be available to view.

The innovative roadshow, which is being run in partnership with Libraries NI, is part of a schedule of events to mark the centenary of PRONI, the official archive of Northern Ireland and a division of the Department for Communities.

MV Princess Victoria backing into a pier at Stranraer in September 1949. Pic submitted by Department for CommunitiesMV Princess Victoria backing into a pier at Stranraer in September 1949. Pic submitted by Department for Communities
MV Princess Victoria backing into a pier at Stranraer in September 1949. Pic submitted by Department for Communities

David Huddleston, acting director of PRONI, said: “Following on from the success of our visits to Derry Central Library and Enniskillen Library at the end of last year, we are delighted to be visiting Larne Library to engage new audiences with a fascinating range of archives.

“The records on display relate to the Princess Victoria disaster, local schools, the workhouse and tourism, and we hope the people of Larne and surrounding areas take the opportunity to interact with these unique and original historical records in their local library.”

Other documents of local interest to view at Larne Library on 22 January include:

  • A register of pupils who attended Larne and Inver National School between January 1862 and November 1873 (digital copy available);
  • An indoor register of Larne Workhouse noting the names of those who spent time there between September 1845 and March 1852 (digital copy available);
  • A typescript radio play titled ‘At the Cinema’ written by well-known actor, writer and musician Richard Hayward, c. 1940-1960;
  • A 1926 brochure from the Northern Counties Committee titled ‘Tours and Excursions’ noting excursion routes, railway timetables and ticket fares;
  • A highly detailed and colourful map of Larne in 1878, including a reference list showing who lived at each plot (digital version only);
  • Film clips of Larne from the 1960s, taken from the UTV archive, which are held at PRONI, will also be shown, including a feature on the Larne Starlight Rally and an interview with Nikolai Poliakoff, better known as Coco the Clown, one of the most renowned circus performers of the 20th century.
A poster advertising a fundraising raffle to win a television in aid of the Princess Victoria Disaster Fund, 1953. Pic submitted by Department for CommunitiesA poster advertising a fundraising raffle to win a television in aid of the Princess Victoria Disaster Fund, 1953. Pic submitted by Department for Communities
A poster advertising a fundraising raffle to win a television in aid of the Princess Victoria Disaster Fund, 1953. Pic submitted by Department for Communities
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Jim O’Hagan, Libraries NI chief executive, said: “We are delighted to build on the great response to the recent PRONI exhibitions where participants have enjoyed the chance to explore unique records, uncovering fascinating details about their ancestors and the community they belong to whilst in the familiar surroundings of their local library.

“This partnership provides the perfect opportunity to bring these historical records closer to members of the local community and we are looking forward to the upcoming exhibition in Larne Library.”

PRONI officials will be available on the day to help visitors to Larne Library uncover details of their family tree, delve into the history of the local area, and answer questions about the vast array of records held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

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