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Laura Janet Memorial Cross

A Grade II Listed Building in Saint Anne's on the Sea, Lancashire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.7565 / 53°45'23"N

Longitude: -3.023 / 3°1'22"W

OS Eastings: 332650

OS Northings: 429389

OS Grid: SD326293

Mapcode National: GBR 7TB0.B4

Mapcode Global: WH85G.JVQ2

Entry Name: Laura Janet Memorial Cross

Listing Date: 24 April 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1423950

Location: Saint Anne's on the Sea, Fylde, Lancashire, FY8

County: Lancashire

District: Fylde

Civil Parish: Saint Anne's on the Sea

Built-Up Area: Lytham St Anne's

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: St Annes on Sea St Anne (Heyhouses)

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn

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Saint Annes on the Sea

Summary

A memorial cross to five of the crew of the lifeboat Laura Janet, sculpted by W B Rhind and unveiled in 1887.

Description

A red sandstone memorial cross sculpted by W B Rhind located in St Annes Parish churchyard and unveiled in 1887 to the five crew members of the lifeboat Laura Janet who died during the attempted rescue of the crew of the German barque Mexico adrift in the Ribble estuary on 9th December 1886.

The memorial is in the form of a Celtic cross about 2.5m tall set into a stepped and tapering plinth that is stood on a stone base set into the ground. The cross shaft is carved with interlaced decoration on its east face and beneath the cross head there is a panel bearing the inscription 'IN MEMORY OF / CHARLES TIMS / AGED 43 YEARS / RUEBEN M TIMS / AGED 30 THOMAS / BONNEY AGED 35 / JAMES DOBSON / AGED 23 THOMAS / PARKINSON AGED / 28 MEMBERS OF / THE ST ANNES / LIFEBOAT CREW / WHO PERISHED IN / THE ATTEMPT TO / RESCUE THE CREW / OF THE MEXICO THE / NIGHT OF DECEMBER / 9TH 1886 / GREATER LOVE / HATH NO MAN THAN / THIS THAT A MAN / LAY DOWN HIS LIFE / FOR HIS FRIENDS / ST JOHN XV 13 / ERECTED BY PUBLIC / SUBSCRIPTION'.

The grave of all five crew members is a double plot with a stone slab and grass with stone edging to either side. The memorial cross is centrally placed on the stone slab.

History

On 9 December 1886 a German barque, the Mexico, travelling from Liverpool to Ecuador, was caught in a storm and dropped anchor in the Ribble estuary. The ship’s anchor broke loose and the crew signalled for help as they drifted towards sandbanks off Southport. Three Ribble lifeboat stations launched to help the crew of twelve: the Charles Biggs from Lytham, the Laura Janet from St Annes, and the Eliza Fernley from Southport. The Charles Biggs rescued the Mexico’s crew and returned home. Shortly after this the Eliza Fernley arrived at the Mexico but was hit by a huge wave and capsized with only two of its crew of sixteen surviving. Meanwhile there was no sign of the Laura Janet. The following day the Charles Biggs and the Blackpool lifeboat, the Samuel Fletcher of Manchester, launched to search for the Laura Janet. She was eventually found capsized off Birkdale near Southport with her crew of thirteen all dead. The Mexico disaster was, and still is, the worst in RNLI history.

Queen Victoria and Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany both sent their condolences. A major appeal followed to provide funds for the families of the deceased and for the erection of memorials. Sir Charles Macara (1845-1929), a leading figure in the Lancashire cotton industry and resident of St Annes at the time of the Mexico disaster, developed the idea of charity street collections to raise funds. Many others contributed including Queen Victoria (£100), Kaiser Wilhelm I (£250), the City of Hamburg, and various national newspapers.

A memorial carved by the Edinburgh sculptor W B Rhind to five of the Laura Janet crew who lived in St Anne's was erected in the St Anne's parish churchyard above the grave of the five deceased crewmen. Rhind also sculpted the Grade II listed memorial located on St Anne's Promenade that portrays William Johnson, coxswain of the Laura Janet (List Entry 1196340). A graveside memorial to seven crew members who lived in Lytham was erected in St Cuthbert’s Churchyard, Lytham, and is listed at Grade II (List Entry 1297684). Another crew member is buried in Layton cemetery, Blackpool. Fourteen members of the Southport lifeboat, Eliza Fernley, are buried in Southport Cemetery where there is a Grade II-listed memorial (List Entry 1379580). Also in Southport there is another Grade II listed lifeboat memorial commemorating the loss of the Eliza Fernley and her crew (List Entry 1379732).

Sir Charles Macara's gravestone stands close to the Laura Janet Memorial.

Reasons for Listing

The Laura Janet Memorial located in St Anne's Parish Churchyard is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: the memorial commemorates the loss of five local lifeboatmen in what is still Britain’s worst RNLI disaster;
* Relationship with other buildings/setting: the Laura Janet Memorial is one of five memorials erected in memory of the Mexico disaster, with the other four located in Lytham, St Annes and Southport all listed at Grade II.

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