English Port Cities: ° Bristol ° Chester ° Dartmouth ° Falmouth ° Gravesend ° Harwich ° Hull Docks: Bessemer Steamer ° Liverpool ° London (Billingsgate) ° Newcastle-Upon-Tyne ° Plymouth ° Southampton ° Portsmouth ° Weymouth ° Woolwich (The Hulks)
England's major ports, such as London, Portsmouth and Plymouth were linked with the Royal Navy, but were also considered "market towns."
Goods shipped in and out of world ports to and from London, Chester, Bristol, Yarmouth, Southampton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (coal), Hull, Portsmouth, Harwich, Plymouth, Dartmouth, Falmouth, "Dover Castle," and Liverpool.
Great Britain's Sailor King
Of all the British monarchs who have claimed that they have ruled the seas, only one, King William IV, has been a truly professional seafarer.
At the age of 13, William became a midshipman and began a career in the Royal Navy. the early age of thirteen, William joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman and was present for the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1780 during the American War of Independence.
During the war he also served in New York, during which time Prince William (as he was known then) was embroiled in a plot to kidnap him, which had been approved by the first President of the USA George Washington. The plot did not come to fruition – after the British learnt of the plot, many guards were assigned to the Prince who had until that time freely walked the streets of New York alone. In 1785 William became a Lieutenant and the following year was made Captain of HMS Pegasus. The same year he was stationed in the West Indies under Horatio Nelson, William and Horatio became great friends and dined together nightly, William even insisted on giving Nelson’s bride away at his wedding! William was given command of the frigate HMS Andromeda in 1788.
In 1789, he was made Duke of Clarence. He retired from the Navy in 1790. Between 1791 and 1811 he lived with his mistress, the actress Mrs Jordan, and the growing family of their children known as the Fitzclarences. William married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen in 1818, but their children died in infancy. William became heir apparent at the age of 62 when his older brother died. William's reign (reigned 1830-37) was dominated by the Reform crisis, beginning almost immediately when Wellington's Tory government (which William supported) lost the general election in August 1830.
Known as the "Sailor King" in his own lifetime, he saw himself as a naval officer who happened to become the sovereign rather than a monarch who had been a naval officer. His life presents an appealing, if sometimes shocking character. His life in the Royal Navy was fraught with crisis: rivalries, doomed love affairs, extravagance and rebelliousness. Often he seems a nautical version of the Regency rake. Yet, while many mocked or despised him, there were those who loved him. And, when he came to the throne and was all but swept away by the tide of the Age of Reform, he faced it with resolution and survived with honour. He had overcome the pressures and contradictions of a royal upbringing, to end his days a king who was not only loved but admired for setting an unstable monarchy on an even keel for the long reign of his niece Victoria which followed his.
January 20, 1893, North China Herald, Shanghai, China
"IT FEARS NEITHER ARMY NOR NAVY."
Those things used to be called the wooden walls of England." The scene was the Naval Exhibition at Chelsea, in the summer of 1891. The speaker was a young man, and his auditor one of those lithe, bright haired girls one so often sees in this island."
And aren't they the wooden walls of England, now?" she said, as a child might ask when Noah might be expected in Liverpool with his ark.
"Not exactly," replied her escort tenderly; "they are rather out of style. Come, I'll show what sorts of walls we have now,'" and he led her off in the direction of the beautiful models of the great steel ships of war.
The young fellow was right in assuming that this country had a big and powerful navy, but the chances of war decrease with the preparations made to meet it. Besides, the interests that would be put to hazard grow constantly larger and nations avoid fighting as long as possible.
This is a hopeful consideration, and if England had nothing to be afraid of beyond the danger of being attacked from abroad, we might sleep in peace. But there is an enemy against which neither army nor navy is of any avail It defies the gunboats in the Channel and the redcoats on the shore, and kills more people than are ever likely to fall in battle.
If we could stop the ravages of this foe we should soon be able to surprise our distant colonies with the arrival among them of a splendid class of our surplus population. We allude, of course, to disease. Not to epidemics of cholera or influenza, but to diseases which are at work year in and year out, in every season, carrying off rich and poor alike. Unquestionably the worst of these is the one that attacks the digestive system, the one from which- springs the majority of ailments, which go under various names, as, for example, rheumatism gout, bronchitis, consumption, the several fevers, and others which were formerly, erroneously, supposed to have distinct character, and to require distinct treatment.
Now, however, the best medical authorities recognise these ailments as symptoms and outgrowths of indigestion and dyspepsia, and treat them accordingly. In illustration of what can be done, we cite a single case. A man named Edward Kelly, who resides at 27, St. Vincent Street, London Road, Liverpool, having previously had perfect health, experienced a dull pain in the right side, and a bad taste in the mouth, furred tongue, loss of appetite, discolored akin, unnatural languor and fatigue, and what he describes as a "sinking feeling," as though the supporting power were exhausted beneath him.
This was in 1887, and he bore it without obtaining relief from the usual medical treatment until April, 1890, when one day, when he was working in a bonded warehouse, he says, "a dreadful pain struck me in the back, and I had great trouble in getting through my work. Getting worse," he continues, "I went to a doctor, who said it was inflammation of the kidneys. He gave me medicine and attended me off and on for six months, but with no beneficial result He said he could not understand how I could keep on with my work. Still, I did struggle on, though the disease was wearing me out. From a strong, able man, I became thin and weak, and was afraid I should have to give up my work. Last July, 1890, a Custom House officer recommended me to try an advertised preparation, entitled Mother Seigel's Syrup. I did so, and before I had finished the first bottle the pain left my back, and I began to digest my food and gain strength. By continuing to use this remedy I was soon as well as ever in my life. My master, seeing what the Syrup had done for me, also took it for benefit that now he always keeps it by him. I have no interest whatever in testifying thus, and only speak of the medicine as I found it."
Mr. Kelly evidently had a narrow escape from Bright's disease, a malady very common among all classes in England, and one of the surest and most direct products of torpid liver, itself a symptom of indigestion and dyspepsia. We mention this case not to put money in anybody's pocket, but for the sake of the sufferers who need help no matter what it comes from.
July 21, 1897, The Liverpool Courier, Liverpool, Lancashire, United Kingdom
The latest reports on British commerce are of a conflicting tenor, and will awaken mixed feelings in the patriotic breast. First there comes the sense of exultation. During last year a larger amount of merchant shipping entered and left the ports of the United Kingdom than ever before in the national annals.
The aggregate figures were 85 millions of tons, or just five millions more than ever passed through our ports in a single year. Then comes the sense of depression and anxiety. There is a constant transfer of our sailing ships and steamers from the British to foreign flags, chiefly the Scandinavian. Last month thirty-one such transfers took place. It must not be supposed that when the ships carry the Norwegian ensign they cease from troubling; very much the reverse. They become our competitors with freer hands and lighter burdens, and undersell us in our own seas. This is a grievance of the shipowners -- a just and sore grievance. But the British sailor has a grievance too -- not one whit less real and irritating. He finds it very difficult to get employment. In British ships he is set aside in favour of the foreigner; the other day, for instance, A Shields shipowner declared that British nationality was a disqualification, and that he wanted -- and got -- Dutchmen for his ship. The British cannot look for compensation to foreign ships; they are deliberately closed against him, so that he is between two fires. His own countrymen decline to employ him, and foreigners are not permitted to do so. These are old complaints, but they are complaints for which the instincts of self-preservation should prompt a remedy. We depend for existence upon our navy, and we not only man our ships with aliens but place obstacles in the way of our own countrymen getting employment on our own decks.
When we look abroad we find a very different policy pursued to the mercantile marine. A German ship must carry German sailors. Even the freedom-loving Americans draw the line at their merchant service, and stipulate that ships that fly the Stars and Stripes shall be navigated by American citizens. A pregnant illustration of this policy was furnished when ships of the American line were transferred from the British to the American flag: their crews were changed from captain's cabin to forecastle from British to American. The same attitude is adopted by the Germans, and is exemplified in the Transatlantic liners running to North German ports and dropping in upon us to pick up our passengers -- not obeying our laws or employing our countrymen, yet robbing us of our commerce. This is called free trade; it is suicidal trade. Germany is making rapid strides in her foreign commerce, prospering at our expense.
But there is another side of the medal presented by the experience of France, which, though following the same tactics, is not prospering. M. de Estournelles has just published in the "Revue des Deux Mondes" a lamentation on the decay of French commerce which deserves serious attention. The general survey is striking and cogent, and the most superficial knowledge of continental affairs confirms its accuracy.
"No nation in the world (says M. de Estournelles) is better situated than we for developing its marine; our coasts are washed by three seas, and look towards the West, Africa, the East and the Far East; our rivers, our streams seem to have been traced by the hand of a benevolent fairy in order to set our riches into circulation, to establish a current of exchange between the heart of France and her littoral. It only depended on us to remain the entrance into Europe. We have suffered this privilege to pass into the hands of our rivals Genoa, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Hamburg. Our ports are almost empty, with the exception of a very few, notably Dunker, which is in good communication with the interior.
Look at Havre, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Nantes, Calais, and La Palace! Havre is a melancholy sight; its life is visibly dying out." The same with Marseilles, which has lost its shipping, and tries to find an equivalent in manufacturing, but even the local products are exported through other channels. One aggrieved resident of Marseilles says "We pay for expediting our goods per French boat from Marseilles to Yokohama 100 francs per ton: while from Genoa we pay only 55 francs 50 centimes. For shipments lo Australia we find no freight at all. This is why the last statistics of the Suez Canal show us that our merchant marine is losing its position more and more, in spite of the creation of our empire in Indo-China and our colony in Madagascar, and coming, in 1896, not only behind Germany, but after Italy, almost on a level with Holland . . . "
October 9, 1898, New York Times, New York, New York, USA
Annual Output of British Shipbuilders
LONDON, October 8. The British shipbuilders have broken the record this year, with 598 merchant vessels, of 1,364,250 tons, under construction on September 30, being 351,000 tons above the previous best record, while 92 warships, of 376,436 tons, are also building. Great Britain's maritime supremacy is shown by the fact that 498 out of the 598 merchant ships are being constructed for British owners.
Bristol in south-western England is on the River Avon. The river traditionally marked the border between Gloucestershire and Somerset. In 1373, Edward III of England proclaimed "that the said town of Bristol be a County by itself and called the county of Bristol for ever," but maps usually instead show it as part of Gloucestershire. As the city spilled south of the river, it took the county with it. Bristol was the starting point of John Cabot's voyage to North America in 1497.
Renewed growth came with the 17th Century rise of England's American colonies and the rapid 18th Century expansion of England's part in the Atlantic trade in Africans taken for slavery in the Americas. Bristol, along with Liverpool, became a significant centre for the slave trade although few slaves were brought to Britain. During the height of the slave trade, from 1700 to 1807, more than 2000 slaving ships were fitted out at Bristol, carrying a estimated half a million people from Africa to the Americas and slavery.
December 19, 1846, Nautical Standard and Steam Navigation Gazette, London, Middlesex, United Kingdom
Shifting of Sandbanks in the Bristol Channel.
The master of one of the steamers asserts that a change of a most serious character has occurred in the position of the Sandbanks of the upper part of the Bristol Channel, and that recently were he thought the track to be clear, he could only find eight feet of water upon a moderate ebb. The vessel upon that occasion took the bottom, and all the steamers have frequently felt the bottom within a short space of time.
In 1840, Messrs Brodie McGhie Willcox & Arthur Anderson, firm of London merchants, and Captain Richard Bourne, R.N., founded Peninsular Company and began providing monthly service between Falmouth and Vigo, Oporto, Lisbon and Gibraltar.
Gloucester, Mackerel Fleet at Sunset
During the eighteenth century, Gloucester developed into an industrial centre thanks to nearby deposits of iron ore, coal and timber from the Forest of Dean. The city was famed for its pin manufacturing and bell founding. The century also saw many social reforms which had their origin in Gloucester. The foundation of the Sunday School movement was started by the editor of theGloucester Journal, Robert Raikes. Sir George Onesiphorus Paul raised concerns that led to nationwide prison reform starting with Gloucester Gaol the most advanced of its time. The influential George Whitefield began his ministry in the city before exporting his fiery brand of evangelism to the American colonies.
The Victorian era saw the completion of the Gloucester-Sharpness Canal which brought further growth to the timber industry and opened up the city to Scandinavia. As the port grew with drydocks and larger warehouses being established, the city s prosperity was further enhanced by the development of the railways as the population grew six-fold and many civic building projects were established.
The town is recorded as Gravesham in the Domesday Book in 1086 as belonging to Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and called "Gravesham": a name probably derived from "graaf-ham": the home of the Reeve, or Bailiff, of the Lord of the Manor. Another theory suggests that the name Gravesham may be a corruption of the words grafs-ham a place "at the end of the grove". Myth has it that Gravesend got its name because, during the outbreak of Bubonic Plague in the 1600s.
The town was incorporated during the reign of Elizabeth and was noted as the place of embarkation and disembarkation of custom-house officers, pilots, &c., attached to ships sailing to or arriving from foreign ports.
One of the town's first distinctions was in being given the sole right to transport passengers to and from London by water in the late 14th century. The "Tilt Boat" was a familiar sight on the river. The first steamboat plied its trade between Gravesend and London in the early 19th century, bringing with it a steadily increasing number of visitors to The Terrace Pier Gardens, Windmill Hill, Springhead Gardens and Rosherville Gardens.
Gravesend soon became one of the first English resort towns and thrived from an early tourist trade. Gravesend "watermen" were often in a family trade; and the town is the headquarters of the Port of London Authority Thames Navigation Service, supplying both river and sea pilots. Today radar plays an important part in the movement of shipping on the river. Until the building of Tilbury Docks on the opposite side of the river, between 1882-6, Gravesend was the first port of entry.
Thousands of emigrants, as well as large numbers of troops, embarked from here. Tilbury Docks expanded considerably since the closure of all the London Docks. Also on the river front is the world's oldest surviving cast iron pier, a unique structure with the first known iron cylinders used for its foundation. From here the steamboat services had begun from London in 1815.
During the 12th century Grimsby, which is on the river Haven, developed into a busy port, particularly as a haven (thus the name) when storms approached. Ships brought timber from Norway and wine from France and Spain. Coal was brought by sea along the coast from Newcastle. During the Middle Ages wool was exported from Grimsby. The rich fishing grounds in the North Sea fed into The Humber. Grimsby was bound to become a fishing port.
January 4, 1895, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California
Hundreds of Fisherman Lost.
London, January 3, -- It has now been ascertained that 322 fishermen belonging to Hull, Grimsby and Yarmouth were lost in the recent gale.
August 5, 1896, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Identity of an Abandoned Vessel
PORTLAND, Oregon, August 4.— The report brought by Captainu Hobbs of the Nicaraguan brig Salvador, that he sighted a large four-masted ship in tow of the whaleback steamer City of Everett, southbound, the tow having lost her foremast, has given rise to many conjectures among shipping men as to the identity of the abandoned vessel. The only four-master that can be readily placed as the abandoned vessel is the British bark Chelmsford, 2197 tons, Captain Thompson, from Grimsby with a general cargo consigned to Meyer, Wilson & Co. of this port. The Chelmsford is now out 148 days, but owing to the unprecedented long westward passages of this season no fears have heretofore been entertained as to her safety.
Tyneside, in northern England, covers part of the area of Tyne and Wear. It includes Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Jarrow, North Shields, and South Shields -- all settlements on the banks of the River Tyne.
While Newcastle-upon-Tyne had been an important local centre since Roman times, and was a major local market town from the Middle Ages, the development of Newcastle and Tyneside is owed to coal mining. Coal was first known to be dug in Tyneside from superficial seams in around 1200, but there is some evidence that it may have been dug as early as 800 AD. Coal was dug from from local drift mines and bell pits, and although initially only used locally, it was exported from the port of Newcastle from the mid 1300s onward.
The valley of the River Derwent, a major tributary of the Tyne that rises in County Durham, saw the development of the steel industry from around 1600 onwards. The combination of coal and steel industries in the area was the catalyst for further major industrial development in the nineteenth century, including the shipbuilding industry at its peak, the Tyneside shipyards were the biggest and best centre of shipbuilding in the world, and built an entire navy for Japan in the first decade of the twentieth century.
March 24, 1882, IRON, London, Middlesex, United Kingdom
THE PROPOSED SHIPPING COUNCIL.
The Newcastle Local Marine Board have passed a series of resolutions, in reply to a communication recently received from the Board of Trade on Mr. Chamberlain's proposal for the establishment of a Shipping Council, which will recommend themselves for adoption also by other similar bodies. The Newcastle Board say:
- 1. That the powers at present vested in the officers of the Board of Trade to stop unseaworthy ships and overloaded ships should be continued.
- That the existing regulations as to the optional load-line marks should not be interfered with or altered.
- That in all cases of detention of ships and steamers on the alleged ground of overloading or unseaworthiness, or from any cause, an immediate appeal should be made to the local shipping council, constituted as suggested in the sixth resolution.
- That the shipping council for the Newcastle district shall include Hartlepool, Sunderland, North Shields, South Shields, Newcastle, and Berwick.
- That the local marine boards of the suggested district should be reconstructed and made into a local shipping council.
- That, the local shipping council should consist of shipbuilders, engineers, legal gentlemen, and shipowners, and seafaring men; so many to be elected by the Board of Trade, and so many by the shipowners.
- That a shipping council so constituted would be composed of the most competent men of the district, and their decisions in all matters of dispute between the officers of the Board of Trade and the shipowner could not fail to command the confidence of all parties.
- That a local shipping council would afford a ready and inexpensive mode of settling all disputes as to unseaworthiness, overloading, or other alleged causes for detaining ships by the officers of the Board of Trade, and would put an end to the cruel, expensive, and oppressive litigation so justly complained of by the shipowners and the Board of Trade.
Finally, the Newcastle Board is decidedly of opinion that a shipping council, constituted as suggested by the Board of Trade in January last, to hold its meetings in London, is undesirable, and would not be satisfactory to it.
We think that the above suggestions will meet the requirements of the case, provided always that the right of revising all decisions of local shipping councils be reserved to the Board of Trade.
Charles Napier Hemy (1841-1917)
Charles Napier Hemy was born in Newcastle, the son of a composer. When he was ten his family moved to Australia and for a time, Charles worked as a gold miner. He returned to England in the late 1850's with the intention of entering the priesthood but shortly before taking his final vows, he changed his mind and decided to become a professional painter. He returned to Newcastle and studied at the Newcastle Art School. Hemy exhibited over eighty times at the Royal Academy from 1865 until his death in 1917. In the 1880's he moved to Falmouth and from this point devoted his career to marine painting. A keen sailor himself, his deep understanding and love of the sea is evident in his works; a favourite device was to place the horizon quite high on the canvas in order to depict the full majesty of the sea. As a result, the top of the ship masts are often truncated.
June 19, 1857, The Christian Times, June 19, 1857
A numerous and influential meeting was held on Wednesday, at Rokeby House, Stratford, for the purpose of adopting a scheme under the title of the "Plaistow and Victoria Dock Mission." The Bishop of London took the chair, and on the platform were Mr. Wingfield, M.P., the Archdeacon of London, and a large number of the clergy and gentry of the district. Since the construction of the Victoria Docks on the Plaistow marshes, and various factories on the banks of the Thames, large masses of the labouring poor have congregated on the marsh. A town called Hall's-ville has been built, and it contains about 4,000 inhabitants. It is intersected with overflowing pestilential ditches, and the place is wholly devoid of sewers. The Rev. Mr. Marsh, the incumbent of Plaistow, had made great exertions with a view of supplying the district with schools and a place of worship, but these means have been found inadequate, and this meeting was convened in order to supply the want. The Bishop of London, in opening the proceedings, said this was one of the most important works that had come under his attention since he had been appointed to the diocese. The Rev. Mr. Marsh, the incumbent of Plaistow, explained the efforts that had been made to supply the town with some place of worship and the children with means of education. Mr. Wingfield, M.P., in terms strongly approving of the object of the meeting, moved a resolution to the effect that the neglected state of the large masses of our population, which are everywhere growing up around new centres of trade and manufactures, is inconsistent with our national profession of Christianity, and that their evangelisation should engage the increasing efforts of the Church of Christ.
The Archdeacon of London seconded the resolution, which was adopted unanimously. Mr. Davis submitted the next resolution, to the effect that the meeting, whilst it acknowledged the existence of much spiritual destitution in West Ham and its connected parishes, was of opinion that the neighbourhood of the Victoria Docks had for many reasons the first claims to increased ministerial supervision. The Rev. Mr. Ram supported the resolution, which was carried. Mr. Holloway then proposed a resolution to the effect that the scheme of the Plaistow and Victoria Dock be approved. Mr. Smith, the secretary of the Victoria Dock Company, seconded the motion, and expressed the desire of the board of directors to render the mission every help they could. The resolution was carried. A committee being appointed, Mr. A. Brady, treasurer of the mission, stated that amongst those who contributed was Miss Coutts, who had subscribed 100 , and had expressed her intention of contributing a similar amount for five years. It was her wish that the clergymen who entered upon the duty should be personally known to every man, woman, and child in the flock. They must be men who would not content themselves with preaching in church on Sunday, or even occasionally attending the sick when sent for, but who would be content to go and live amongst their flock and become acquainted with the poor in their own homes. After the usual votes of thanks the proceedings terminated.
Plymouth began as fishing village when in the early 13th century the Prior of Plympton turned the village into a town by starting a market. Once a market was up and running in Plymouth merchants and craftsmen would come to live and work in Plymouth.
In 1497, John Cabot discovered Newfoundland with its rich stocks of fish. From then on fishermen from Plymouth fished off the coast of Newfoundland. There was also a coastal trade. Ships brought goods from other parts of England to Plymouth: Coal came by ship from Newcastle and grain from Eastern England. During the 17th century trade developed with the colonies in the West Indies and North America. Sugar and tobacco were imported into Plymouth and wool and manufactured goods were exported. Coal from other parts of Britain was brought to Plymouth by sea. In the late 17th century Celia Fiennes, a travel writer, described Plymouth: "The streets are good and clean. There are a great many though some are but narrow. They are mostly inhabited by seamen and those which have affairs of the sea." She also wrote: "The mouth of the river is a very good harbour for ships, the dockyards are about 2 miles from the town. Its one of the best in England, a great many good ships are built there."
The dockyard dominated industry in Plymouth during the 18th century but there were also wool weaving, leather, brewing, and building industries. Fishing remained important. Plymouth continued to be a major port, trading with the West Indies and the American colonies and the Mediterranean. There was also a considerable coastal trade. Grain and coal were brought by sea from other parts of Britain into Plymouth and tin was taken away. In 1801, at the time of the first census, Plymouth was really three towns: Plymouth old town had a population of 19,000; Devonport had 23,000 and had outgrown the original town; Stonehouse had a population of 3,407. By 1851 Plymouth had almost 53,000 people; Devonport 38,000; Stonehouse 12,000. During 19th century the dockyard still dominated industry in Plymouth, along with civilian shipbuilding.
Weymouth is situated in Dorset on the south coast of England and Weymouth Bay is part of the English Channel. In 1794 a packet steamer service was launched to operate between Weymouth and the Channel Islands. Subsequent services allowed for the "emigration" of several Dorset families to the islands.
The East Indiaman, The Earl of Abergavenny, Weymouth's most well known shipwreck, sank in Weymouth Bay in 1805 with the loss of 261 lives.