My article on the SS Princess Alice


Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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Hey all,

Back in August last year, an article I wrote titled "Forgotten Tragedy: The Sinking of the S.S. Princess Alice" was published in a periodical named Casebook Examiner. This periodical deals primarily with one of my other major interests, Victorian era history and, in particular, "Jack the Ripper's London". It was through the connection with one of Jack's victims, Elizabeth Stride, that I came to combine maritime and crime and wrote this article - for those who aren't aware of the connection, you'll understand as you read it.

Of course I can't post the article as it was published, but I will post up the full text of it.

I very much welcome any feedback, and hope that you all enjoy it.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
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Forgotten Tragedy: The Sinking Of The S.S. Princess Alice
By Adam Went

When one thinks about major maritime tragedies throughout history, a handful of names immediately spring to mind: Titanic, Lusitania, Britannic, Morro Castle. Or, for the military minded, Bismarck, USS Arizona and HMS Hood, along with a whole host of others too innumerable to name, and each with their own reasons for such notoriety - one name that would rarely spring to mind is that of the S.S. Princess Alice. In fact, the majority of my readers would only know of the ship because of its links to Elizabeth Stride and therefore the Jack the Ripper case, a link which shall be explored further later in this article. Yet, in its day, this was a tragedy which gripped not only England but the world, and it remains to this day the worst tragedy on a British waterway. Hundreds of people died, families were torn apart, if not completely wiped out, and all of this happened within easy sight of the safety of the shore. It’s now time to re-visit this tragedy and let its story be told, as much as possible by those who were actually there.

A Brief History

The Princess Alice was built by shipbuilders Caird & Co., and launched at Greenock, Scotland in 1865. It was originally named Bute for its first year, during which time it served the Wemyss-Arran route for the Wemyss Bay Railway Company, but upon being purchased by Watermans Steam Packet Co. (later to become the London Steamboat Company) in 1866, it was renamed and put into service as the Princess Alice on the Thames River excursion route, where it would serve the remainder of its days.

The Princess Alice displaced just 251 tons in weight, and was 67 metres in length. It enjoyed more than a decade of popular service, but by 1878, the ship was becoming something of a dying breed. The Princess Alice was a traditional paddle steamer, with two funnels, however, as the Victorian era entered its latter stages, larger, faster, more luxurious screw steamers started to take hold of the industry. Despite this setback of beginning to appear somewhat outdated, the Princess Alice remained very popular with families who enjoyed cruising the Thames River and escaping their hectic lifestyles for even a few hours. So much so that on the day of the fateful voyage on September 3, 1878, the ship was not much short of its licensed maximum capacity of 936 passengers.

The Fateful Voyage

The voyage of the Princess Alice on September 3, 1878, had started the same as any other she had embarked on in the previous 12 years. It was an evening return trip, having left from Sheerness. George Thomas Long, the first officer of the Princess Alice, fortunate enough to be saved, shortly afterwards gave to the press this account of the events during the voyage and the fateful collision with the Bywell Castle:

“The crew of our boat consisted of 13 hands all told, and when we left Sheerness on the return trip we had as nearly as possible 550 passengers. As we called at Gravesend and Rosherville later on, however, we must, on leaving the latter place, have had fully 600 passengers on board. We started at Rosherville at 6.15, and all went well until, on running up Galleon’s Reach, while standing on the fore saloon, the captain being on the bridge, and a man and a boy on the look out, I observed a large black steamer coming down the river. It was then just half-past seven, and the weather was fine and calm, and the moon shining beautifully over the river. On rounding Tripcock Point the vessel’s helm had been starboarded to pass a screw steamer bound down the river, and we still remained to ; and at the moment we saw the vessel, which proved to be the Bywell Castle, our engines were immediately stopped. The other vessel appeared to be coming down on us stem on, and, looming in the evening haze like a great black phantom, gave us a foreboding of the unhappy disaster. She was then about 150 yards distant, and each vessel was, of course, rapidly nearing the other. Their whistle was at once sounded, and loud shouts raised by the man at the look out and others on deck to the Bywell Castle, but it was then, I fear, too late. Seeing the collision inevitable, I ran to the lifeboat, but before I reached it the Bywell Castle had twice crashed into us. She struck our vessel with her stem on the fore sponson, cutting clean through into the engine-room. For a moment we were locked together, and then we heard the water rushing in below and a minute later she sank with the boat. I soon rose to the surface, and, striking out for shore, was picked up by a waterman. We rescued our second mate and some passengers. The helm of the vessel was still at starboard when we struck, and the engines were stopped.”

The Bywell Castle, a collier loaded with a cargo of coal, was considerably larger than the Princess Alice, weighing in at over 800 tons, more than three times the weight of the Princess Alice.

While for a long time there has been a general rule applied that passing ships must do so on the other’s port side, and both the Princess Alice and Bywell Castle were fitted with red and green mast lights for just such purposes, in 1878, no such rule was enforced. In any case, this would have been a difficult rule to enforce on a river with as much traffic as the Thames, and without any of the modern day navigational assistance such as radar and radio communication.

Captain Thomas Harrison, master of the Bywell Castle, gave his version of events as such:

“Tuesday, Sept., Commencing with light variable breezes and calm clear skies. At 5.45 p.m., hauled ship out of dry dock and down to wet dock entrance, ready for proceeding to sea. At 6.30 p.m., left the wet dock in charge of Mr. Dicke. […] At 7.45 p.m., proceeded at half-speed down Galleons Reach. Being about the centre of the reach, observed an excursion steamer coming up Barking Reach, showing her red and masthead lights, when we ported our helm to keep over towards Tripcock Point. As the vessels neared, observed that the other steamer had ported, and immediately afterwards saw that she had starboarded, and was trying to cross our bows, showing her green light close under the port bow. Seeing collision inevitable, stopped our engines and reversed full speed, when the two vessels collided, the bow of the Bywell Castle cutting into the other steamer, which was crowded with passengers, with a dreadful crash. Took immediate measures for saving life by hauling up over the bows several men of the passengers ; throwing ropes’ ends over all round the ship ; throwing over four lifebuoys, a hold ladder, and several planks, getting out three boats, keeping the whistle blowing loudly all the time for assistance, which was rendered by several boats from the shore, and a boat from another steamer ; the excursion steamer, which turned out to be the Princess Alice, turning over and sinking under the bows. Succeeded in rescuing a great many passengers, and anchored for the night. About 8.30 p.m., the steamer Duke of Teck came alongside and took off such of the passengers as had not been taken on shore in the boats - (signed) Thomas Harrison, Commander.”

In several famous historical cases, notably in instances such as the sinking of the Empress Of Ireland in 1914 and the Andrea Doria in 1956, fog had largely been responsible for the fatal collisions. Even modern technology such as radar could not save the Andrea Doria. In the case of the Princess Alice and Bywell Castle, mis-communication and a lack of decisive action to avoid the other while still early enough to prevent a collision were largely responsible. This is also combined with the ships colliding during the light stage of twilight, when it is notoriously difficult to identify objects in the distance.

Several passengers, in their post-sinking accounts, gave accounts of their frantic efforts to avert the collision and then escape the rapidly sinking vessel. Mr. Bird, of Tottenham Court Road, gave this version:

“I was in the bow of the vessel. I heard our captain call out to the approaching vessel, and I rose from my seat to look out. I saw a large screw iron vessel bearing down upon us. The vessel was on our right. The captain called out to him very loud, and I called out very loud. It was not too dark to see the other ship. It was a light twilight with the moon shining. The stern settled first, and then she gradually turned till the keel came uppermost, and I climbed along the side of the vessel till I stood on the keel. I thought the other side of the ship was on the ground, but it gradually sank and at last I struck out. Many caught hold of me, but let go of my slippery wet clothes. I swam away from the crowd, and I saw a little jet of steam beside me, which made me fear the boilers would explode; and then I saw a boat by the side of the screw, and I made for that, and when I got there the men pulled me in. I assisted them to help others in.”

Initial assurances of passengers and crew alike that the collision could not have been anything major were very quickly realised to be incorrect, as the testimony of second steward Mr. Law, of Walworth Road, illustrates:

“My name is William Alexander Law, living at 37, Wansey Street, Walworth Road. I was second steward on board the Princess Alice. We left Gravesend at about six o’ clock. At the time of the collision I was in the saloon and there were about fifteen people there. The time I should say was about a quarter to eight p.m., when I heard a crash. It was not very heavy the first time, and I said to the stewardess “There’s some barge alongside,” when immediately there was another crash. I ran upon deck, and amid the confusion and screams of the passengers I heard water rushing in below, and saw that we were sinking. I then reached to the top of the saloon gangway and shouted, “Come on deck, we are sinking.” The scene on board I shall never forget. I ran to a young lady with whom I was keeping company, and took her on my shoulder, being a good swimmer, and jumped overboard, and swam to the shore, but [as] I was going my poor girl slipped off my shoulder, or was dragged off, and I lost her, although I dived for her. I saw a gentleman (Mr. Talbot, of Forest Hill), who was sinking, and caught hold of him and held him up till we were picked up.”

Most of those on board were not so fortunate to escape at all. So seriously was the Princess Alice damaged that just four minutes after the initial collision, the boat had sunk. There was simply no time to organise any sort of cohesive evacuation. So quickly did the ship go down that when the remains were raised shortly afterwards (parts of the ship were still visible above the waterline and were preventing traffic through the river), there were drowned passengers piled at the exits to the decks of the Princess Alice, having not had the time to even make it out of the innards of the ship before it went underwater:

“The Princess Alice, lying as she does in mid-stream, seriously affects the travel in the river, and hence the Thames Conservancy Board are making every effort to clear the wreck away. Operations for this purpose were commenced yesterday morning, two lifting lighters and one steam lighter being employed for the work. Divers were sent down, who reported that the Princess Alice is literally in pieces, the hull being divided into three principal parts, with numerous fragments. It is, therefore, deemed probable that the boilers burst when the vessel went down. The fore part of the hull was raised yesterday and taken to the South Woolwich side of the river.
[…]
Divers who have examined the wreck report that the cabins seem full of bodies, standing erect, and packed together at the points of exit, whither they must have crowded in the struggle to escape.”

For those who were fortunate enough to make it up on deck, the ordeal was not over yet. Despite being close to shore, the area of the river the Princess Alice sunk in was also a sewage outlet, plus the water was very cold, making it difficult for anybody but the strongest swimmers or those who found material to float on to survive. Because so many hundreds of people were thrown into the river at the same time, also, as those in the water frantically flailed for anything or anybody to get a hold of to keep themselves afloat, people who had survived the initial sinking were then dragged underwater themselves.

For those who made it ashore, there was then the anxious wait to find out whether their loved ones had also managed to be saved. This heart-wrenching wait all too often ended in devastating news, as we are about to discover.

The Aftermath

Following the sinking, the Bywell Castle had stood by in order to help rescue survivors, and had shortly afterwards been joined by various other vessels. Some of the survivors who were stronger swimmers had managed to swim ashore, others had been picked up by these vessels. However, as after any tragedy of this magnitude, chaos reigned for some time afterwards and families were separated. So it was several days before a clearer list of those who had survived and those who had not was available - sadly, minor miracles were few and far between, and most families were plunged into despair. There were numerous heartbreaking accounts of this in various newspaper reports, some of which are reproduced below:

“Among other distressing instances of a whole family being carried away by the accident is that of the household of Mr. Alfred Alesbury, of the firm of Alesbury, Major and Barrett, brace and collar manufacturers, of Jewin-crescent, City.
Mr. Alesbury, who was about 40 years of age, and resided at 11, Valentine Road, South Hackney, left London on Saturday for the purpose of joining his wife and family, who, with their servant - a young woman of about 18 years - had been spending a six weeks holiday at Southend, and intended returning home on Tuesday. The children were four in number - three girls and one boy - their ages varying for seven months to ten years, the boy being about two years old. Mr. Alesbury’s mother, who also resided in the Valentine road with her husband, an oil and colour dealer, likewise went to Southend on Tuesday for the purpose of joining her son’s party and returning with them at night. But, unhappily, instead of a joyous household re-assembling around the family hearth, desperation reigned there.”

As it turned out, it was rightly so that desperation should reign. Not one member of the Alesbury family survived the sinking. Elsewhere, the situation was no better:

“Mr. Hunt, of Bell-yard, Gracechurch-Street, who had lost his wife and four children, Frederick George, aged 21, he had just found, but the others missing were Eliza Annie, 14; Herbert Edgar, 10; and Hessel Sarah, aged 5. Another gentleman who accosted me was the head master of Lambeth Schools, China Walk. He had come to look for Arthur Spencer, 15, of Hercules-buildings, Lambeth ; and Mr. Robert Spencer, 21, and three young ladies (the Misses Relph), sisters, aged 9, 13 and 20; to the latter of whom Mr. Robert Spencer was engaged. He had that day came of age, and they had all been out together to celebrate his majority.”

As it would later be found, all 3 of Mr. Hunt’s missing children had died in the tragedy. Robert Spencer had survived, but Arthur Spencer had not. Nor had any of the 3 Relph (Relfe) sisters. There was a separate account of the tragedy by Mr. W. Pittivant, who mentioned that:

“Seeing what was the matter, I made a dive into the side of the screw steamer, and got hold of a rope to which three girls and a young man were already clinging. The girls were crying out, ‘Lord Jesus, save us!’. As we looked up the side of the ship we saw some one, as we thought, about to let go the ropes, and we cried out to them not to do it. It was a terrible moment for us, but we tried to encourage the girls to bear up, and presently a little boat came and picked us up, also a little child. I cannot say who the latter belonged to or whether it was drowned.”

One has to question the sad possibility of whether the three girls and the young man as described by Mr. Pittivant, were not the three Relfe children and Mr. Arthur Spencer.

Because the Princess Alice was a family excursion vessel, there was a large variety of ages of those in board, one being an elderly 92 year old gentleman who was on board (Mr. Chittlebury, the only passenger on that voyage who had been born in the 1700’s, also a casualty)- but one of the most upsetting aspects of the whole sinking is the amount of young children who lost their lives. In researching this article, and a point which will become relevant later also in regards to Elizabeth Stride, the passenger list was searched to see how many children aged 15 years and under were on board. While there was many victims who were unknown and/or unclaimed without ages listed, and the figure can never be exact, based on the available statistics, the approximate figures run as follows:

There were 207 children aged 15 and under on board. Out of these 207, 158 died (15 of these were unknown/unclaimed), 18 were saved and 31 were listed as missing/possible victims.

On the flip side of that, some children who survived also found that they were suddenly orphaned. The Everest family, with eight family members travelling on the Princess Alice that fateful day, had just two of the children, aged 8 and 10 years, survive. Both mother and father had died in the sinking.

In some particularly sad cases, the sinking affected people who were not even on board the Princess Alice on that voyage:

“Perhaps one of the most touching scenes in connection with the disaster was experienced at No. 17, Ferndale Road, South London, the residence of Mr. Elliott. He and his wife were among the excursionists, leaving the children at home. A correspondent went to the address as indicated above by a police officer, and a child said -: “Sir, there is nobody in ; but we see that there have been 120 persons saved, and surely father and mother will be home soon. I hope they will ; don’t you, Sir? and the child burst into a fit of grief.”

Both Mr. William Elliott, 58, and Mrs. Mary Ann Elliott, 30, died in the sinking.

These are just a few examples of what was a widespread grief. There was, however, some relatively happy endings:

“Emma Childs, wife of a cabman living at 14, Sovereign-Mews, Cambridge Street, Edgware Road, is saved with her baby, but says that she sank twice, but held her baby to her breast and caught hold of something, she does not know what, which held her up until she was rescued. Her husband is saved, but nothing is known of her three children. Her husband’s brother was with them, and is probably drowned.”

Emma did lose two of her children, but her youngest, William Frederick Childs, aged just 2 months, was miraculously saved, and was both one of the youngest passengers on board and youngest survivors.

Immediately following the sinking, funds were organised and set up to provide subscriptions to the survivors, some of whom had not only lost members of their family but also their main bread winner. Queen Victoria herself issued a letter of sympathy, pledged 100 guineas to the relief fund and ordered that all necessary equipment be at the disposal of the Coroner and those carrying out the rescue and identification efforts.

In the end, there was no exact figure of the number of survivors and casualties, but it is generally accepted that between 550-650 people died in the tragedy, and 69-170 people were saved. It was also said that every effort had been made in the rescue effort and that there was little more which could have been done:

“The Bywell Castle stood by, and rendered such help as was possible. Another steamer, the Duke of Teck, came up and gave what assistance it could. Boats put off from the shore. Indeed, everything that could be done was done. The calamity, however, was too sudden for help.”

Thus ended one tragedy. However, it would only be 10 years later before another one would grip London in terror, and as it would turn out, the two had an unlikely connection….

The Jack the Ripper Connection

1 AM, September 30, 1888. The ten year anniversary of the Princess Alice sinking has just been marked in London, but that was the furthest thing from the mind of International Working Men’s Educational Club (IWMEC) steward Louis Diemshitz as he led his pony and cart through the gates into Dutfield’s Yard, Berner Street, St. George’s-in-the-East. Moments later, he had stumbled across the body of the third canonical victim of Jack the Ripper, identified soon afterwards as being that of Elizabeth Stride. While nothing was known of the woman at that point, as it would turn out, she had an interesting past - and part of it involved the Princess Alice sinking.

“Long Liz” Gustafsdotter, having left her native Sweden for England around 1866, married John Stride on March 7, 1869. While there is little other than hearsay as a record of their marriage, we do know that by the late 1870’s, the marriage was in trouble.

Shortly after the Princess Alice sunk in September 1878, Liz approached Sven Olsson, a clerk of the Swedish church in England, and informed him that her husband and two children had drowned in the sinking, whilst she had survived, albeit with some injury to her palate (roof of the mouth). Olsson later commented that at that stage, Liz was clearly in poor condition, and from that time through to her death, she continued to receive occasional financial assistance from the Swedish church as a result.

As sad of a representation of herself that she gave to Olsson, the truth was somewhat different. John Stride was still alive at that stage, and there was even a reunion between the two on at least one occasion. Ultimately, John Stride died of a completely unrelated illness six years later, on October 24, 1884.

Researchers in the past who have investigated Liz’s story have found that there is no record of any such passage on the Princess Alice, and while I would like to be able to state evidence to the contrary, my own research has brought me to the same conclusion, despite several different methods and names being tried.

Liz was born on November 27, 1843, which would make her 34 years old at the time of the sinking. Allowing one year either way in case of an error of some description, I searched the passenger list for females aged 33-35, who survived. Once again using the available statistics, there were 17 matches for this category on board the ship - however, all 17 died in the sinking, with 15 known and 2 listed as unknown/unclaimed.

Taking a different approach, I searched the surnames Ericsson (Liz’s fathers surname), Gustifson (the name on Liz & John’s marriage certificate), Gustafsdotter (Liz’s maiden name) and Stride. There were no matches for these names or any similar to that.

I have already explained the statistics earlier in this article for children aged 15 years and under on board the ship. This was another method, to try and find if there were any possible matches for Liz’s children on board. While this is much more of a subjective result as we don’t know what exact ages these children were supposed to be, and there were many young victims who were also unknown/unclaimed, from those we know of there are no close matches.

A search of the available newspaper archives also showed that the name Elizabeth Stride was never mentioned in regards to anything, let alone the Princess Alice disaster, in 1878.

Bearing all of these factors in mind, we can safely state once and for all that the story Liz Stride told was false - a desperate, opportunistic measure used to elicit sympathy and financial support at a time when she desperately needed it. It is always a possibility worth consideration that Liz might have sailed on board the Princess Alice at some point in the past, or that she might have had friends or associates who died in the sinking, as the tragedy was so far reaching, however that is purely guesswork, and in any case is not the story that she had told.

Perhaps the final nail in the coffin was that in her autopsy results after her death in 1888, it was found that there had been no damage to her palate, as she had claimed. We cannot entirely blame Liz for telling this story - she was a desperate woman resorting to desperate measures at the time, and what she did is probably marginally better than other methods she might otherwise have turned to. That being said, however, this possible link between two major tragedies is, after all, a non-existent one.
An Update On A Second JTR Connection

Since the original writing of this article, some information has been brought to my attention regarding a second prominent link between the Jack the Ripper case and the sinking of the Princess Alice, and I felt that it also merited a mention in these pages.

It is in regards to Joseph Martin, the man who was responsible for the mortuary photographs of the Jack the Ripper victims. An article published some 55 years after the sinking in the East London Advertiser carries the following quoted section, which details this rather interesting, not to mention miraculous, link:

Mr. Martin often used to play in the orchestras of the steamships that went from London Bridge to Southend and Margate. He was on one occasion asked to play on the "Princess Alice," and his sister and brother-in-law, who were arranging a day out, agreed to take tickets on the same boat. On the evening before the day, his employer told him that he would require him to play at the Holborn Restaurant instead. He was disappointed that he could not get in touch with his relatives, but he went to the restaurant. He finished playing there in the early morning, and whilst on his way home called at a coffee stall. There, men were talking of the tragedy of the sunken ship and the many lives lost. "I walked home stunned," said Mr. Martin, "and thinking of the fate which must have overwhelmed my sister and brother-in-law. To my great amazement, when I went to the house of a relative to ask if any details had been received, I met them face to face. I said, "I thought you were dead," and they replied "We thought you were." It transpired that they were held up on the way to Woolwich, and when they arrived, the steamboat was already in midstream. I consider that the miracle of my life".

It was indeed a blessing that day for Joseph Martin and his family, and Mr. Martin would go on to live into old age. Indeed, the title of the article that I partially quoted above is “Fifty Years A Corpse Photographer”. There are, no doubt, more remarkable connections between the two tragedies to be found, though they would be hard pressed to beat this particular tale of fortune.

Conclusion

Having read these accounts of the tragedy, some might question why the sinking is not more famous in the annals of history - and it is indeed a good question. After all, purely from a statistical standpoint, it ranks up there with some of the very worst. I would personally say that perhaps a major reason for this might be that everything happened so quickly that evening that there was no time for anything of a famous or heroic nature to really occur. The ship sank in just four minutes. It was over before many people even knew what had happened. It did not sink in wartime, it wasn’t sailing on its maiden voyage - which, among other things, are fair comparisons when considering it against some other major maritime disasters. With so many other famous events to take place in the following few decades, the story of the Princess Alice was swept to the back of the minds of the public.

For the survivors of the sinking, after the initial period of worrying and searching for their loved ones who they had travelled with, came a time of rebuilding. For some it was more difficult than others, and many orphaned children were taken into care or sent to their relatives. The public support and subscriptions, including from no less than the Queen herself, to help the needy were indeed quite generous and helpful to those who found themselves in the worst situations.

As for the London Steamboat Company, the sinking of the Princess Alice was in many ways exactly what it didn’t need. Following the sinking, it struggled financially until it was eventually put up for sale in 1884, at which point it became the Thames Steamboat Company. It carried on for a further three years under that name before closing its doors completely and going under the ownership of the Victoria Steamboat Association in 1888. Soon afterwards, the Cunard Line and White Star Line would become the two major rivals of the trans-Atlantic route in the battle for the Blue Riband (the award given to the steamer which made the fastest crossing across the Atlantic - as a point of interest, White Star Line’s Germanic held the coveted award at the time of the Princess Alice sinking) and would themselves have major chapters to add into the history books.

Liz Stride was far from being the only person to take advantage of the situation in 1878. It was reported that pickpockets and watermen were picking whatever items of value they could find off the victims of the ship as they were brought in to shore. She hardly would have stood out as the chaos ensued. However, as she stood on Berner Street in the early hours of September 30, 1888, she was about to become famous for an entirely different, and much more unfortunate reason. The rest, as they say, is history.

Acknowledgements

My eternal gratitude goes out to Howard and Nina Brown for their assistance in putting this article together and for providing some very useful press reports. Also, a big thank you to Jon Simons, for pointing the Joseph Martin connection out to me, and to everybody else who has assisted and encouraged somewhere along the way. Thank you.

Sources

www.portcities.org.uk
www.casebook.org
www.alsbury.co.uk/princessalice
The Liverpool Mercury, September 6, 1878
The Lancaster Gazette, September 7, 1878
The Daily News, September 4, 1878
The Illustrated Police News, September 14, 1878
The Illustrated Police News, September 21, 1878
The Illustrated Police News, September 28, 1878
The Northern Echo, September 4, 1878
The East London Advertiser, October 21, 1933
Sugden, Philip: The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (Robinson, revised ed., 2002)
 

Martin Cooper

Member
Dec 13, 2007
135
2
111
Hello Adam, Very interesting article. If you visit derelictlondon.com, and click on the 2011 updates part3, then scroll down the pictures, you will find some pictures of what appears to be the bow section of a wooden ship. The caption says that it is at Gallions reach and mentions the Princess Alice sinking. Take a look and see what you think, it looks like it's been there for many years, could it be the bow section of the Princess Alice?

Regards, Martin.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
11
233
Hi Martin,

Many thanks for pointing that out, very interesting!

It would be good to know what the name of this boat was - at a glance I would say that it's not the Princess Alice. For a start it looks a little small. Also I can't imagine Victorian Londoners being content to leave sections of a boat where hundreds of people had died just sitting on the shore to rot, presumably with bits and pieces still inside it.

Also, to the best of my knowledge, much of the remains of the wreck were broken up and some was turned into souvenirs - not so long ago a friend pointed out to me the sale of a walking stick which had been crafted from wood belonging to the Princess Alice.

Having said that, it is plausible that some remains of the Alice could still be around or under the Thames, and if not, it would definitely be good to know the fate of this boat in any case....thanks again.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Martin Cooper

Member
Dec 13, 2007
135
2
111
Hello again Adam, Found some bits and bobs about the Alice, one of the pic's shows an unused ticket and a piece of wood, hope they will be of use to you.

Regards, Martin.

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Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
11
233
G'day Martin,

Wow, many thanks for taking the time to find those and post them up, it's very much appreciated! It really was a terrible tragedy.

If you or anyone else is interested in taking a look at a few more images and newspaper articles relating to the tragedy, try visiting this page which I created on another forum as I was beginning my research into the Alice - most of these ended up making it into the published version of the article:

http://www.jtrforums.com/showthread.php?t=8917&highlight=Princess+Alice

Many thanks again Martin!

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
11
233
Just as a brief update on the article, which I had been meaning to post before....

Some time after it was published, I did a bit of research and discovered that William Frederick Childs - who those of you who have read the article will remember as being the 2 month old baby son of Emma Childs, the youngest and perhaps most miraculous survival of the day - was listed in the 1911 census, then aged 32 and still living in London.

So it would seem that amidst all the tragedy there really was at least one relatively happy ending....

Cheers,
Adam.
 

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