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Broadsheet of the ballad 'Wreck of the NORTHFLEET And Loss of Over 300 Lives'.

Date: 1873
Dimensions:
Overall: 255 x 193 mm, 0.022 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017418
Place Manufactured:London

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    Description
    Broadsheet of the ballad 'Wreck of the NORTHFLEET And Loss of Over 300 Lives'. The ballad refers to the sinking of the emigrant ship NORTHFLEET after being hit by the MURILLO on 22 January 1873. The NORTHFLEET was bound for Hobart with 379 persons on board. Only 86 passengers and crew were saved by nearby vessels.
    SignificanceBroadsheets were designed as printed ephemera to be published and distributed rapidly. This also meant they were quickly disposed of with many of them not surviving the test of time. The museum's broadsheet collection is therefore a rare and valuable example of how maritime history was communicated to a wide audience, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries. They vibrantly illustrate many of the themes and myths surrounding life at sea. Some of them also detail stories about transportation and migration.

    HistoryWRECK OF THE NORTHFLEET AND LOSS OF OVER 300 LIVES.

    You people of England pray give attention,
    And parents of children, come listen to me,
    A shocking disaster to you I will mention,
    A heartrending tale, of the deep rolling sea.
    While women and children, so soundly wre sleeping,
    On board that ill fated ship, the NORTHFLEET
    How many alas! for their friends now are weeping,
    Who now sleep their last sleep in the treacherous deep.

    Hear that crash, God above? the brave ship she is sinking,
    While away in the dark glides those treacherous knaves,
    All hands to the pumps but alas she is sinking
    With those women and children, in the dark briny waves,
    See brave Captain Knowles, on the poop he is standing,
    Lets first save the women & children he cried
    To the boats my brave lads, let those darlings be landed,
    Gallant heat, at his post, Captain Knowles bravely died.

    O list. to a tale of a dear little creature.
    Poor little Maria how wretched was she,
    I was woke from my sleep, by my own dearest mother
    Who with father and sisters, lie daed in the sea,
    He put me in the boat said I'll go & fetch mother
    As she told the sad story, the tears trickled o'er,
    As we stood on the deck with my dear sister Sally,
    The boat it went down, and I ne'er saw them more.

    Now poor Mr knowles, in grief she is pining
    Fo the loss of her husband so dear to her heart,
    O little she thought in her cabin reclining,
    That soon from this world, with his life he must part,
    He cried, good bye dear, while the tears were fast falling,
    My duty is here with my ship for to be,
    I'll die like a man for England, home, and beauty,
    His sobbing wife answered good bye love. good bye.

    May the great God above, in his mecy,
    Receive their poor souls who have drew their last breath,
    In that bright land beyond may they all meet together,
    Without fear of shipwreck, or danger, of death.
    Let us hope on this earth may we ne'er hear another,
    As dreadful a tale of deaths at sea,
    As the gallant ship NORTHFLEET who with fathers and mothers,
    They perish'd that night on the dark rolling sea.

    "The sailing ship NORTHFLEET... On 22nd Jan.1873 she was lying at anchor off Dungeness. There were 379 persons on board, most of whom were railway workers on passage to Tasmania to construct the Tasmanian railway. Her cargo was mainly railway iron. Her lights were burning brightly and the night was clear. At about 10.30pm, the Spanish steamer MURILLO, 300 tons, Capt. Berrute collided at speed with the anchored ship, most of the passengers being asleep below. The NORTHFLEET was struck amidships and cut down to the waterline, the MURILLO without waiting to ascertain the extent of the damage made off in the darkness. There was considerable panic and Capt.Knowles fought, revolver in hand to keep back the crowd and save the women and children. Meanwhile the tug CITY OF LONDON, the lugger MARY, the PRINCESS and a pilot cutter took off a number of people. There were many ships in the vicinity, but with the exception of these vessels they rendered no aid. The clipper CORONA was lying at anchor only 300 yards away but was unaware of the tragedy as the night watchman was asleep. Two other circumstances delayed rescue - firstly Capt. Knowles did not realise the extent of the damage and did not send up distress signals until 15 minutes after the collision. Secondly, the signal gun could not be fired owing to the touch hole being blocked. Of those on board, 320 were drowned including the Captain. The MURILLO was arrested off Dover on 22nd Sept., eight months after the collision. A Court of Admiralty condemned her to be sold and severely censured her officers." [Dictionary of Disasters at Sea by C. Hocking]

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    Author: C Fry

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