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Broadsheet ballad titled 'Admirable Plimsoll'.

Date: 1875 - 1876
Overall: 250 x 195 mm, 0.015 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017422
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A broadsheet ballad titled 'Admirable Plimsoll'. The ballad recounts Samuel Plimsoll's attempts to get his Unseaworthy Ships Bill passed which would have prevent the over loading of ships. The defeat of this bill in 1875 is recounted and his subsequent efforts to get it passed.
    The ballad was to be sung to the tune of 'Come buy my fine matches, Come buy them of me'.

    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, migration and in this case, maritime law.


    Sing of Plimsoll the man, '
    Who had feelings so warm,
    That he took all the hearts
    Of the nation by storm.
    Who, speaking from impulse,
    And not from his head,
    made mischief and blundered,
    In all that he said.

    Who first dared to speak
    Of the horrible tale,
    Of the Sailors of England
    Who died under sail,
    How the greed of the ship owners
    Sent men to sea,
    In Veesels so rotten,
    As rotten can be.

    And when the poor crew
    Put their old heads together,
    And guessed that the ship
    Could not face the bad weather;
    And ventured to land,
    They were caught by the Beaks,
    And shut up in prison,
    For weeks and for weeks.

    And hunf=dreds and hundres
    Left Englands dear shore,
    And bless their poor souls,
    They were never seen more,
    And their wives and their children
    To fate bowed their heads,
    But they cried all the more,
    As they lay in their beds.

    They knew that misfirtunes
    Must happen at sea,
    But why in such numbers,
    They could not agree.
    Plimsoll brought down the House,
    And they took up his Bill,
    And the Government swore they would stick to it still.

    Butthey suddenly shirked,
    And flung Plimmy over,
    And thought they were ending
    The Session in Clover.
    But the Nation alarmed,
    Rose up to a man,
    And through every party,
    The great scandal ran.

    But lest the Fish Dinner
    Should make them all ill,
    Beforethey sat down,
    They had swallowed the pill.
    And tho'Plimsoll blundered,
    There's this to be said,
    It was Plimsoll who first
    Hit the Nail on the head.

    Related People
    Printer: W S Fortey

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