Local historian Keith Johnson takes a look at a tragic drowning that claimed the lives of two young men...
On the second Monday morning of October 1870, a shrimper named Ball was going along the Southport shore, when, opposite the Palace Hotel, he discovered a white painted boat washed ashore with its sail set, but without oars.
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In the boat were two complete suits of clothes. In the pockets were a couple of watches, one with a gold Albert chain attached.
An unopened letter was found in one of the pockets addressed to Longworth Stock, 3 Tulketh Street, Preston.
There were also a couple of address cards with the name Samuel Regan Mulvany upon them and a rail return ticket from Preston to St Helens. A basket of provisions was also in the vessel containing stout, wine, pies and grapes.
It was thought the occupants of the boat were evidently persons occupying a good position; and it was supposed they were out sailing, had stripped to bathe, and may have been carried away by the strong current and unable to regain their boat.
In the days that followed the pair were identified as Samuel Longworth Stock, aged 18, son of the Rev. John Stocks, vicar of St. George’s, Chorley, and Samuel Regan Mulvany, aged 22, who had arrived in Preston on the Saturday morning.
Mulvany had come to town hoping to gain employment at the North of England Carriage Works where his friend Longworth Stock was employed as an apprentice engineer.
On the Sunday afternoon the pair had gone to the boatyard of Mr. Crook at the Ribble Side Inn to hire a pleasure boat.
Telling Mr. Crook of their intended journey and hiring the boat until Monday afternoon. By late evening they had arrived at Lytham where they asked some fishermen the way to Southport.
The information was given them although they were advised not to venture the journey that evening.
The last the fishermen saw of them was a few minutes later as dusk fell when, with sail up, the vessel was seen making towards Southport.
The body of Stock was discovered on the following Friday when it was washed up opposite the New Inn on the Southport shore and it was taken to the Imperial Hotel, Southport.
An inquest followed on the Saturday afternoon and, from evidence submitted, the feeling was that the boat had likely struck on a bank, and that, being unable to get her off with the oars, the young men had stripped to swim ashore, and had unfortunately drowned in attempting to do so.
The jury, after retiring for a brief consultation, returned with a verdict of ‘Accidentally Drowned’ and the coroner expressed his sympathy to the families of Stock and Mulvany, whose body appeared to have been lost to the sea despite an extensive search.
On the following Tuesday the funeral of Stock took place at St. George’s and the Rev. Stocks paid tribute his son and his companion who had perished on the fateful journey.
As the funeral cortège left the church for Chorley Cemetery the streets were lined with people and many of the shops had lowered their blinds in respect.