LATCHFORD author Gill Hoffs is appealing for descendants of those who lost their lives on the sinking of the RMS Tayleur to come forward.

The 35-year-old is currently working with producers on BBC show Coast on a programme about the ship which ran aground on its maiden voyage on January 19, 1854 when it set sail from Liverpool to Australia.

She said: “I need help tracing the descendants of an Appleton family on the wreck of the RMS Tayleur in 1854.

“Two-year-old Eliza Hayes was travelling with her mother and about 700 others to the Australian Gold Rush when the Warrington-built ship wrecked at the bottom of a cliff 48 hours into its maiden voyage.

“More than half of those on board died within the 30 minutes or so it took for the ship to sink.

“Although many bodies were recovered only Eliza Hayes has a named grave on the island of Lambay in the Irish Sea, where the wreck occurred 160 years ago this year.

“The granddaughter of one of the three children to survive the shipwreck is still alive in England, so there's a good chance Eliza's great-grandniece, nephew or cousin is still living around here.”

Mum of one Gill, who previously wrote a book on the forgotten story of the wreck called The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the 'Victorian Titanic', is also searching for those involved with the construction of the ship.

“Anyone whose great-grandfather worked at the Bank Quay Foundry, where Crosfields and Unilever is now, may have helped build the ship.

“It was the biggest of its type in the world at that time, and I'd love to hear from them too.”

The wrecking of the RMS Tayleur made headlines nearly 60 years before the Titanic set sail.

Both were run by the White Star Line, both were heralded as the most splendid ships of their time and both sank in tragic circumstances.