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Entire family die off Folkestone in Christmas Day shipwreck disaster

By Ron Green
Blerie Castle shipwreck
Blerie Castle shipwreck

With Christmas just a few days away, a wooden merchant ship, left London with 22 passengers and a crew of 34.

The 600-ton Blervie Castle was on its way to Plymouth to collect more passengers before heading for Adelaide.

It never arrived.

After the pilot left the ship off Dover the weather deteriorated. There was a “terrific gale” and heavy snow.

A few days after the Australian vessel was due to dock at Plymouth, wreckage began to wash up on the French coast.

It was believed the crew, blinded by the awful weather, ran aground on the Varne or Ridge sandbanks off Folkestone on Christmas Day.

Some months later a death notice appeared in the Gazette, mourning the loss of an entirev family - husband, wife and five children - who were on board.

An advert also appeared for a sale in Ramsgate of merchandise salvaged from the doomed vessel.

Sources: 27 December 1859, 10 January 1860, 1 May 1860

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