Figurehead of the Lottie Sleigh

Basic Information

Figurehead type
Figurehead of the Lottie Sleigh
Vessel name
Lottie Sleigh
Type (Naval/Merchant)
Copyright owner
© Merseyside Maritime Museum
Copyright notes
Current location
Merseyside Maritime Museum (in storage)
Location date

Physical Information

Three-quarter-length, female figure wearing dress with white bodice with dropped waistline, blue skirt, blue collar and matching scalloped cuffs. She has yellow hair, coiled up to frame her face.
Date made
Place made
H211 x W63 cms
Object history
Extract from the Liverpool Mercury:
A tremendous explosion tore the ship apart and a contemporary account reads: “The contents of the vessel blew up with a report which it is hardly possible to describe. The simultaneous explosion of 500 pieces of heavy ordnance could not have produced so terrible and alarming a shock.
“Its effects in every part of Liverpool were severely felt and created indescribable terror. At the same time the most solid blocks of warehouses, offices and private dwellings were shaken to their base – doors locked and bolted were thrown wide open – hundreds, yea even thousands of squares of glass were smashed.”
Remarkably the figurehead survived the explosion in tact. It was found some miles from the site of the explosion and later came into the possession of the Royal Insurance Company Ltd in 1927. For many years she was positioned in the Reception Hall at the Staff Training Centre, ‘Barn Hey’, before being presented on long-term loan to the museum. In 2011 the figurehead was donated by the Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance Group.
Vessel history
Sailing barque of 700 tons, built in 1852 at Prince Edward Island, for Messrs. Hatton & Cookson specially for the African trade. She was named after the wife of Colonel Sleigh who purchased a large tract of land on that island and the barque was built upon his estate.
This vessel, whilst at anchor in the River Mersey with gunpowder aboard, caught fire on the 15th January, 1864, and a violent explosion occurred which tore the ship apart. A passing ferry rescued the crew. The noise was heard for miles around, as far as Chester. Most of the gas lamps in Liverpool’s streets were put out by the massive rush of air. Much damage was also caused on the Birkenhead side of the river. The wreck was later beached at New Ferry, Wirral, where it was sold on the 27th January, 1864.
References/Bibliography Newspaper reports re the explosion: 'The Daily Post' and The 'Liverpool Mercury' on 16th January 1864.

Ownership Information

Owner type
Public Institution
Owner name
Merseyside Maritime Museum
Contact details
Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool, L3 4AQ
Ownership can be cited online
Accessible to public
By appointment
Data verified by owner
Date verified

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