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Author Topic: Samuel Plimsoll - the Sailors' Friend  (Read 1191 times)
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John
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« on: January 05, 2012, 15:35:19 PM »

Samuel Plimsoll, British politician and social reformer, is now best remembered for having devised the Plimsoll line (a line on a ship's hull indicating the maximum safe draft, and therefore the minimum freeboard for the vessel in various operating conditions). Born in Bristol in 1824, his family moved to Sheffield, and from there to Penrith, Cumbria. Leaving school at an early age, he became a clerk at Rawson's Brewery, and rose to be manager. In 1853 he attempted to become a coal merchant in London. He failed and was reduced to destitution. He himself told how for a time he lived in a common lodging for seven shillings and two pence a week. Through this experience, he learnt to sympathise with the struggles of the poor, and when his good fortune returned, he resolved to devote his time to improving their condition.
 
His efforts were directed especially against what were known as "coffin ships": unseaworthy and overloaded vessels, often heavily insured, in which unscrupulous owners risked the lives of their crews. In 1868, Plimsoll was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Derby, and endeavoured in vain to pass a bill dealing with the subject of a safe load line on ships. The main problem was the number of ship-owning MP's in Parliament. In 1872 he published a work entitled Our Seamen, which became well known throughout the country. Accordingly, on Plimsoll's motion in 1873, a Royal Commission was appointed, and in 1875 a government bill was introduced, which Plimsoll, though regarding it as inadequate, resolved to accept.
 
On 22 July, the Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, announced that the bill would be dropped. Plimsoll lost his self-control, applied the term "villains" to members of the House, and shook his fist in the Speaker's face. Disraeli moved that he be reprimanded, but on the suggestion of Lord Hartington agreed to adjourn the matter for a week to allow Plimsoll time for thought. Eventually Plimsoll made an apology. Many people, however, shared his view that the bill had been stifled by the pressure of the shipowners, and popular feeling forced the government to pass a bill which in the following year, was amended into the Merchant Shipping Act. This gave stringent powers of inspection to the Board of Trade, and the mark that indicates the safe limit to which a ship may be loaded became generally known as Plimsoll's mark or line.
 
Plimsoll was re-elected for Derby at the general election of 1880 by a great majority, but gave up his seat to William Vernon Harcourt, believing that the latter, as Home Secretary, could advance sailors' interests more effectively than any private member. Offered a seat by 30 constituencies, Plimsoll was an unsuccessful candidate in Sheffield Central in 1885. He did not re-enter the house, and later became estranged from the Liberal leaders by what he regarded as their breach of faith in neglecting the question of shipping reform.
 
He was for some years the honorary president of the National Sailors' and Firemen's Union, and drew attention to the horrors of the cattle-ships, where animals were transported under appalling and over-crowded conditions. Later he visited the United States to try to secure the adoption of a less bitter tone towards England in the historical textbooks used in American schools. He died in Folkestone, Kent in 1898 and is buried in St Martin's churchyard.

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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2013, 11:00:39 AM »

There has obviously been a recent ceremony at the grave - judging by the date on the card, for his birthday?

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spiggy
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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 13:01:48 PM »

From the Newsletter of the Foplkestone Local History Society

The Samuel Plimsoll Memorial Service on Saturday 9th February 2013.


St. Martin’s Church Cheriton this year hosted what will hopefully become the first of many future years of memorials to one of Folkestone’s unsung heroes. A church full of about 130 people sung the same hymns that were sung at the great man’s funeral, were  taught a music hall song about the man that was sung during his lifetime and listened to various addresses and readings delivered by Folkestone’s Mayor, to the author of the recent biography on Plimsoll, Nicolette Jones. A collection was taken for the RNLI and Kent Merchant Navy Association and this was followed by a wreath laying ceremony at Plimsoll’s grave. A display of old photographs andillustrations was on display in St. Martin’s Church and a further celebratory Music Hall Evening was put on in the evening by the United Reformed Church near Radnor Park.

In fact, Plimsoll Day is actually on the 10th February in line with the anniversary of his birth (10th February 1824). And whilst memorials have taken place at St. Martin’s Church before from a small graveside wreath laying a few years ago and across the years with the local school and Sunday school children paying their tributes, it is this years’ service that hopefully has gained enough momentum to see a more regular and larger commemoration take place annually.

Samuel Plimsoll’s connection with Folkestone only occurred towards the end of his life, when being diagnosed as diabetic in 1892 he nominally retired from public life and moved first to 31 Clifton Gardens and then to 35 Augusta Gardens in 1895 to his death on 3rd June 1898 after
falling into a diabetic coma. Whilst in Folkestone, Plimsoll attended first the Tontine Street Congregational Church and when the congregation outgrew the church warranting the building of a second Congregational Church in the town near Radnor Park (now renamed the United Reformed Church), Samuel Plimsoll was to have laid one of the foundation stones in July 1897. Sadly his ill health meant his wife fulfilled his duty that day, but he was a worshipper in the Radnor Park Congregational Church during the last year of his life.

It has been suggested that the reason Plimsoll lies in St. Martin’s churchyard is that it was the only local churchyard with a view of the sea, and shortly after his death, all the ships in Folkestone’harbour are reported to have flown their flags at half-mast. Then on the day of the funeral, sailors from local vessels arrived at Plimsoll’s home in Augusta Gardens, removed the horses from the hearse, and drew the coffin themselves to the graveside.
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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2013, 17:21:14 PM »

There should, therefore, be a full report on the funeral in the local rag.
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alkhamhills
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« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2013, 20:58:31 PM »

London Standard 7.11.1898

Samuel's Will makes interesting Reading

£19633/18/02 worth in 2011 (take your pick)
 historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £1,789,000.00
 economic status value of that income or wealth is £11,100,000.00
 economic power value of that income or wealth is £17,360,000.00

£40849/8/8 worth in 2011(take your pick)
historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £3,722,000.00
 economic status value of that income or wealth is £23,100,000.00
 economic power value of that income or wealth is £36,120,000.00ck)

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John
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2016, 17:09:19 PM »

Thanet Advertiser - Saturday 04 June 1898

DEATH OF MR. PLIMSOLL. THE SAILORS' FRIEND.
We regret to learn that Mr. Samuel Plimsoll died at Folkestone at half-past three o'clock yesterday morning. For the last few days he had been in a critical condition, and his death was not unexpected. Among the sailors of our mercantile marine, the name of Mr. Samuel Plimsoll will long be remembered with feelings of gratitude, which will keep his memory green for many year to come. He was born at Bristol in 1824.

Mr. Plimsoll first came prominently before the public in connection with the Acts, which he was largely instrumental in passing, for the amendment of the Shipping laws in 1871, 1873, 1875 and 1876. In 1872 he published "Our Seamen," and since that he had written a sequel to it, and also a volume on "Cattle Ships," which is regarded as a standard work. Soon after the foundation of the National Amalgamated Sailors' and Firemen's Union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1890 he accepted the post of its first president, but afterwards retired.
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