Article dated : Thu, 13th November 2003

Samuel Plimsoll 

Samuel Plimsoll was born in Bristol in 1824. He was involved in shipping coal to London and became a leading expert in the coal trade. In the 1868 General Election he was elected as MP for Derby and began to campaign for government support and legislation to protect seaman. He highlighted the fact that nearly 1000 seaman were drowned each year on ships around the British coast.

Samuel Plimsoll became so famous that songs were written about him. The following verse is from "A Cheer for Plimsoll" written and performed by Fred Albert in 1876:-

"So a cheer for Samuel Plimsoll and let your voices blend

In praise of one who surely has proved the sailors’ friend

Our tars upon the ocean he struggles to defend

Success to samuel Plimsoll for he’s the sailors’ friend"

A further amendment in 1877 imposed a limit on the weight of cargo that could be carried and improved the rules governing the employment of seaman and their accommodation whilst on board ship.

Samuel Plimsoll retired from politics in 1880 although he continued to campaign for reform.

He died in Folkestone on 3 June 1898.