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Dreadful shipwreck, in the channel, of the NORTHFLEET emigrant ship, loss of over 300 lives

Date: 1873
Overall: 252 x 190 mm, 0.022 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017421
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This broadsheet features a ballad about the wreck of the emigrant ship NORTHFLEET in the English Channel. It depicts an engraving of survivors in a lifeboat. NORTHFLEET was bound for Tasmania carrying 300 passengers, mainly immigrants and equipment for railway construction in the colony when it sank in January 1873. Broadsheets were sold by street hawkers and were a popular form of entertainment in the 19th century.
    SignificanceThis broadsheet represents the wreck of NORTHFLEET and the loss of 320 lives, predominantly made up of immigrants planning to start a new life in Australia. It demonstrates the production of sentimental ballads often made after a tragic shipwreck.

    Come listen all you feeling people,
    With dreadful news I do relat,
    An emigeant ship, it was the NORTHFLEET,
    Alas! has met a wretched fate
    Four hundred souls ther ere on board her,
    Lay anchor'd off at Dungeness,
    Bound for Australia was the vessel,
    To bid good-bye with fond caress
    God help the orphans and the widows,
    Comfoirt them where'er they be;
    And heaven above us, all preserve us,
    From the dangers of the sea.

    A foreign steamer, so it happened,
    Fast sailing with the Channel tide,
    Came down upoin the anchor's vessel,
    And crash went in her timber side.
    Away it went the cruel steamer,
    Nor stopped to see the wreck it made,
    Inhuman wretches, void of pity,
    They would not stop and give them aid.

    Who can describe the fright and terror,
    Abroad [sic] a sinking ship at sea,
    Women scream'd & strong men trembled,
    It was a sight of misery.
    Launch out the boats, the captain cried,
    The women first staid back the men,
    They heeded not, bur madly rushing,
    Threatened the boats to overwhelm.

    The captain he could see the danger,
    And loud he cried to stop the crush,
    I'll shoot the first who disobeys me,
    Some recklass ones alas, did rush.
    The captain fired, the shot was fatal,
    And one poor wretch fell lifeless there,
    The men stood back upon the vessel,
    And looked around in sad despair

    Now when the vessel was fast sinking,
    And each one longed to save his life,
    The gallant captain stood embracing,
    His young and lately married wife;
    Oh, let me die with you, my husband,
    Oh no, dear wife, that cannot be,
    Take care of her told his boatswain,
    When your poor captains drown'd at sea.

    An emigrant ship bound for Australia,
    And upwards of four hundred lives,
    Scarce ninety souls were saved from drowning,
    God help the children and the wives,
    How many eyes there will be weeping,
    And aching hearts both far and near,
    Then silent pray for those departed,
    An shed for them a feeling tear.

    The NORTHFLEET was a 951-ton British passenger ship built at Northfleet in 1853. For the majority of its career NORTHFLEET travelled between Britain, Australia, India and China, becoming a famous clipper ship on the Chinese trade run known for its exceptionally fast passages. In January 1873 on a voyage to Tasmania, carrying passengers and railway equipment the vessel encountered bad weather and was forced to anchor. It was then struck by the Italian steamship MURILLO which disappeared after the collision. Although many vessels were close to NORTHFLEET they were unaware of the incident and provided no help. The vessel is reported to have sunk in 30 minutes and 320 lives were lost.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Dreadful shipwreck, in the channel, of the NORTHFLEET emigrant ship, loss of over 300 lives

    Web title: Shipwreck in the channel of the NORTHFLEET

    Related People
    Printer: W S Fortey

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