Created: 22 Apr 2020 08:56
Updated: 04 Jun 2020 11:40

This evening we had a presentation by Rob Smith, a specialist historical guide, on the "Shipwrecks of the Thames". 

One very poignant accident he recounted was the wreck in 1878 of the SS Princess Alice, a passenger vessel, which was sunk by a coal steamer, the Bywell Castle.  The passengers had been on a evening moonlight trip to Sheerness and were well lubricated by the return journey and most were below in the saloon or their cabins.  The skipper apparently decided it was safe to let a passenger (who happened to be a seaman but with no knowledge of the Thames) take the helm.  The two vessels approached each other in the dark at the notorious bend and rock at Tripcock Point, just where all the raw sewerage was discharged from the whole of London  There was confusion about which side the ships should pass each other, the old convention being that the vessel traveling up-river would hug the slack tide. The Princess Alice altered course in front of the steamer, was cut in two and sunk within 4 minutes with the loss of about 650 men women and children, many due to the horrifically filthy water conditions.

Attached on the right is a copy of his slide show, along with the previous talk he gave us on the East India Docks. 

One of the other wrecks he discussed was the one in the photo above, the SS Richard Montgomery, which dragged its anchor and grounded while loaded with explosives in 1944.

Interestingly, it was reported today (Thursday) in the BBC News online that the Dept of Transport propose to have the masts cut down, since they are causing strain on the remains of the ship.

We are pleased to confirm that Rob has been given honourary membership for a year and we look forward to seeing him at the Club.  He has offered to organize a walking tour for Club members once the lockdown is over.  ​

He has also written a book on the 'Industrial History of the River Lea', which is for sale on Amazon:

Date and time

Tue, 26 May 2020 18:30 to
Tue, 26 May 2020 20:00
 Members only