Nostalgia 1953: Ship’s sinking ‘is a reminder of nature’s great hazards’

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THE Princess Victoria sea disaster, coming less than a month after the Nutt’s Corner Viking air accident which claimed the lives of 27 people, was, in the words of a News Letter editorial, a reminder ‘that today, for all our scientific and technical progress, we cannot command safety in every circumstance’.

‘Day after day, year after year, the cross-Channel steamers have gone to and fro between our ports and Britain without loss of life or any sense of hazard among passengers,’ stated the editorial.

‘The ships seemed able to overcome the challenge of any sort of weather, and travellers have long had the utmost faith in them and in the men who command and man them.

‘Now disaster has overtaken one of the newest vessels engaged in these services and it is with incredulity that we learn that nearly 130 lives have been lost.’

The sinking of so modern a ship would damage the tourism industry, said the News Letter, but it was the loss of life which would hit hardest.

‘Many homes in Ulster and elsewhere have been grievously afflicted by death and to the bereft relatives public sympathy goes out in full measure.’

The deaths of Major Maynard Sinclair, the Stormont Minister of Finance, and Sir Walter Smiles, the MP for North Down, would, said the paper, be a heavy loss for Northern Ireland and its public life.

‘Both had special gifts and mature political experience and their places will not be easy to fill.’