The Times, Wednesday, Jan 24, 1866; pg. 6; Issue 25403; col F

                         THE LOSS OF THE LONDON.


Yesterday, a number of gentlemen, sympathizing with the bereaved families of the unfortunate persons who perished in the Australian steamer London, sought and obtained an interview with the Lord Mayor at the Mansion-house, with the view to interest his Lordship, and through him the inhabitants of the metropolis at large, in setting on foot a public subscription on behalf of the sufferers. The crew of the vessel numbered about 80 men in all, of whom 16 were saved, and it is for the relief of the wives and families or aged parents of the lost 64 in the first instance, that it is now proposed to raise a fund, and for those of the passengers, or such of them as may need assistance, there being, it is said, many distressing cases in both categories.

The deputation consisted of

Mr. William HICKSON, Chairman of the Poplar Board of Guardians, and General Superintendent of the East and West India Docks;

Mr. Joseph WHITE,

Mr. Joseph TAYLOR,

Mr. Dresser ROGERS,

Mr. L*CEY,

Mr. George RILEY,

Mr. C. J. NUNN (of Melbourne),

Mr. W. M. HITCHCOCK (of Geelong),




Mr. Richard BRETT, Secretary to the Master Mariners’ Society,

Mr. Edward Henry FRENCH (Southend),

Mr. Nicholas LAKE,

and others.

Mr. HICKSON, addressing the Lord Mayor, pointed out the grievous extent to which the calamity had affected a great number of persons in the eastern parts of the metropolis. The loss of the London with her crew, he said, had been felt almost as a national misfortune, but only those familiar with that class of the population could estimate fully the amount of personal and collective suffering which it had entailed upon the bereaved families. As Chairman of the Board of Guardians of the Poplar District, he could testify to the widespread desolation which the disaster had inflicted upon it. The Messrs. WIGRAM, owners of the ill-fated ship, had already considerately undertaken to pay the allotment notes due to the crew up to the end of February, but the object of the deputation was to ask the Lord Mayor whether he did not consider the wives and children and the aged parents of the lost mariners, who were their sole support, had a legitimate claim upon the practical sympathies of the public. If his Lordship coincided with them they felt assured that the weight of his approval and co-operation must call forth such a popular response as would materially alleviate the sufferings of a large class of the river-side population.

The LORD MAYOR, addressing the deputation, said, - I think it is scarcely necessary for me, as Chief Magistrate, to say that, in common with, I may say, the civilized world, I deeply deplore this great calamity; not only in consideration of those who have been called away and are now beyond our sympathy, but of those who are left behind. You have put to me a pointed question, and I think as a practical citizen I am bound to give you a pointed answer. You ask me whether I do not think the unhappy and dependent survivors of those who perished on this lamentable occasion are entitled to public sympathy. I think we have all abundant reason to know that there never was perhaps a great calamity of any kind which befell any considerable number of our countrymen engaged either in commercial or mercantile enterprise, or in manufacturing pursuits, that did not enlist the sympathy, the deeply felt sympathy, of the citizens of London. That these poor unhappy sufferers are not only entitled to but will receive the cordial sympathy of the public, I have not the remotest doubt. As far as I am personally concerned, in my humble way, though the duties I have to discharge are multifarious, and many of them pressing, nothing will give me greater pleasure than to have an opportunity of serving this good cause in any way I may be able; but I think we ought to define our objects – to tell the public what we are going to do and what we require; because it occasionally happens when the community are appealed to in reference to some great calamity such as this, so generous and sympathizing are they, that they not only respond but respond to a larger amount than is really wanted. You may command me in any way you please in this matter, but I hope you will see the force of my observation, and if you will permit me to place a donation on your list as a commencement, I shall be happy to assist these unhappy persons either by my purse, in my person, or by my position. (Hear, hear.) I am sure the accounts we have read and heard from day to day of the courage and devotion of the ill-fated persons whom Providence summoned away so unexpectedly to their rest on the occasion of this great disaster must make us all still prouder of our countrymen and countrywomen. (Hear, hear.) I think you had better form yourselves into a working committee in your district, and when you have done that any moneys the public may be disposed to send to the Mansion-house will be taken care of, but I advise you to look at the matter in a practical way.

Mr. HICKSON intimated that so far their proceedings had only been preliminary, and the encouraging reception they had received from the Lord Mayor would give a stimulus to exertion on their part in this good work.

The deputation then withdrew, and, before leaving the Mansion-house, appointed a committee for raising subscriptions, consisting of

Mr. R. BRETT, 52, Trinity-square;

Mr. G. C. OKE, Mansion-house;

Mr. Joshua WHITE, High-street, Borough;

Mr. Dresser ROGERS, Town-hall-chambers, Southwark;

Mr. R. B. WHITESIDE, 49, Lime-street;

Mr. Joseph TAYLOR, 42, Eastcheap;

Mr. H. Rumsey FORSTER, Brunswick-square;

Mr. E. H. FRENCH, Southend and Clerkenwell;

Mr. N. LAKE, 1, Adelaide-place, London-bridge;

Mr. T. D. CARTER, 12, Dartmouth-street, Westminster;

Mr. C. J. NUNN, 9, Sise-lane, city, and Melbourne;

and Mr. W. N. HITCHCOCK, county-chambers, Cornhill, and Geelong, Australia.


The following donations were announced: -

The Lord Mayor, £21.;

Mr. Joseph WHITE, £10. 10s.;

Messrs. BRIGHT and HITCHCOCKS, of Geelong, £10. 10s.;

Mr. William HICKSON, £5. 5s.;

Mr. Joseph TAYLOR, £5. 5s.;

Mr. C. J. NUNN, of Melbourne, £5. 5s.;

Mr. Richard BRETT, £2. 2s.;

Mr. Nicholas LAKE, £2. 2s.;

Mr. H. Rumsey FORSTER, £2. 2s.;

and Mr. E. H. FRENCH, £1. 1s.

In addition to the Lord Mayor, at the Mansion-house, the undermentioned bankers have intimated their readiness to receive subscriptions for the objects in view:- Messrs. SMITH, PAYNE, and SMITHS; Messrs. BARNETT, HOARES, HANBURYS, and LLOYD; the Consolidated Bank (London, Manchester, and Norwich); and the various branches of the Alliance Bank of Liverpool.

Among the persons present at the interview was the young seaman KING, who acted as coxswain to the pinnace after leaving the ill-fated vessel with 15 persons besides himself, and who steered the boat with such admirable skill until they were taken on board the Italian ship. Sir Robert CARDEN, to whom the young man had been introduced in the Justice-room, stated that he also served as a seaman on board the Duncan Dunbar when she was wrecked. He was treated with great respect by all present.


The Times, Wednesday, Jan 24, 1866; pg. 12; Issue 25403; col F

THE LOSS OF THE LONDON. – The conviction gains ground among the maritime population of Plymouth that the loss of the ill-fated ship London is mainly to be attributed to her having been overweighted. As she lay in the Sound it was noticed by scores of seamen that she lay low in the water “like a collier,” and, although no copy of her manifest can be procured in the port, it is generally believed that she had on board many hundred tons of iron – railway iron probably – which lay as dead weight, bringing her main deck almost to the level of the water. To her already heavy cargo 50 tons of coals, in bags, were added while she lay in the Sound, and these were placed round her funnel. When the ship rolled they broke adrift, and the coals being washed down the scupper holes interfered greatly with the working of the pumps. Had the London been out a month she might possibly have met with impunity a gale similar to that in which she foundered, for the daily consumption of coal, water, and stores would have lightened her materially, and she would have ridden over, instead of forcing herself through, the tremendous waves she encountered. But as she entered the Bay of Biscay the iron weighed her down with considerable force, and she plunged into rather than upon the mountains of water which came driving on. The excessive loading, with a cargo which would have involved a tremendous strain for the tightest and most buoyant of wooden ships, dragged down the iron-case to a common destruction. The practice of carrying such dangerous cargo in passenger ships is condemned by nautical men, and legislation to prevent it is required. The accusation made against Captain MARTIN that he did not use all possible exertions to save his crew, by cutting away the masts and forming rafts, is manifestly unjust. The London was fitted with telescopic iron masts from deck to truck, and these could not be cut away by any appliances on board. Supposing it to have been possible for a raft to have been constructed upon a deck incessantly swamped by heavy seas, to have launched and kept afloat so frail a craft and have kept passengers upon her, still there was this good excuse for the experiment not being tried – there was no wood aboard with which a raft could have been built. Her top gear was totally insufficient for the purpose, her spars on deck had been washed overboard, her spare spars were inaccessible below, and to have ripped off the deck timbers would have caused the ship instantly to go down. How far it was wise to place iron masts in an iron ship, and to have no material accessible for the construction of rafts, is a question bearing on the future rather than the past. A portable life-raft, such as has been often tested with success, would probably have saved many lives. Captain MARTIN has been blamed for putting to sea on the 6th of January, when forewarned by the barometer of the gale of the 11th. If he were unwise in so doing, how much more dangerous was the act of the captain of the Union Company’s Cape mail steamer Norseman, which left the Sound with 59 passengers on the 10th in the very teeth of the storm! It is a serious matter for such a ship to be detained at a port; such detention would have involved in the case of the London a loss of some 60L. per day. – Western Morning News.