New book tells the story of the sinking of the SS Rowan

A new book tells the story of the sinking of the SS Rowan in the North Channel off Corsewall Point just over 100 years ago.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 10:13 am
Updated Thursday, 9th December 2021, 10:15 am
Sandy Rankin with Elaine Barton and Julia MacDonald of the Local History Trust

The ship sank on October 9, 1921 after it had been in a collision with the American cargo vessel West Camak and the British Cargo ship Clan Malcolm.

The accident which took place in thick fog claimed the lives of 36 people, among them were members of the Southern Syncopated Orchestra.

This was the first black jazz orchestra to visit Britain - at the time of they were on a three year tour of Britain, Ireland and Europe and were on their way from Glasgow to Dublin.

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The Galloway Association of Glasgow trustee Sandy Rankin has written “The Sinking of the SS Rowan and The Southern Syncopated Orchestra” which has been published by Stranraer and District Local History Trust.

Mr Rankin, who is originally from Portpatrick, is married to Anne, the great-granddaughter of Donald Brown, captain of the SS Rowan.

He visited the Galloway Gateway in Stranraer to sign copies of his latest book.

Mr Rankin said: “Whilst the disaster and rescue did not involve many local people, the incident is of national musical significance.

"Had the rescuers not made such a valiant effort, the story of how black musicians brought their new sensation of jazz music to the UK and Ireland may have been very different".