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How to Lower Ship's Boats: a Treatise on the Dangers of the Present System, and their Remedy

Date: 1859
Overall: 225 x 150 x 15 mm, 0.3 kg
Medium: Ink on paper, cloth
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00030606
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    During the 19th century the significant loss of life in shipping disasters and the inability of passengers to safely evacuate from sinking vessels led Charles Clifford to compose this treatise. Clifford proposed a new system of lowering a ship's boat called 'Clifford's Patent Lowering Apparatus' that would allow passengers to escape more effectively. His treatise had a unique Australian content through his examination of passenger vessels, convict transports, colonial shipwrecks and the Melbourne Steam Navigation Company Board.
    SignificanceThis treatise demonstrates the development of emergency procedures and evacuation methods on ships during the 19th century. Clifford hoped to improve the safety on ships through the adoption of his innovative equipment.
    HistoryUp until the 1840s few ships carried lifeboats and any additional boats on board were more suited for the purpose of transporting supplies and people from ship to the shore than as rescue vessels. A series of major shipwrecks during the 1850s off the coasts of England and South Africa received large press coverage in Britain, Scotland and South America. The heavy loss of life helped bring to the forefront the issue of safety and emergency procedures on ships. Many of the disasters were the result of poorly maintained equipment and the inability of the ship's crew to reach the boats in time.

    A major difficulty in making a quick escape was how quickly and evenly the boats could be lowered. Charles Clifford's new apparatus aimed to quickly and evenly lower a ship's boat by having a single line wound around a drum, to which two lines were attached, each line leading to the fore and aft falls. Clifford stressed in his treatise that this method would allow the boat to be unlashed, lowered and released by just one person and would reduce the risk of it tipping over or entering the water unevenly.

    Clifford used a number of shipping disasters as evidence in his book including the wrecks of the AMAZON, BIRKENHEAD, ARCTIC and the QUEEN VICTORIA. He also included statements and testimonials from maritime authorities including The Emigration Commissioners, the Honourable East India Company and the Royal Navy about the credibility of his equipment, the statistics of ships installed with his equipment and the number of lives it saved. His treatise had a particular focus on Australian maritime themes including passenger vessels, convict transports, colonial shipwrecks and the board of the Melbourne Steam Navigation Company.

    The work of men such as Clifford helped instigate the British Board of Trade's legislation - The Merchant Shipping Act of 1857 - which stipulated every vessel carrying more than ten passengers must have a lifeboat that could be quickly deployed in an emergency.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: How to Lower Ship's Boats: a Treatise on the Dangers of the Present System, and their Remedy, with a full description of the new method

    Web title: How to Lower Ship's Boats: a Treatise on the Dangers of the Present System, and their Remedy

    Related People
    Illustrator: E Hayes
    Lithographer: Ashby and Co

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