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Samuel Plimsoll

1824 - 1898

Samuel Plimsoll, a member of Parliament from Derby, headed a campaign in 1870 to require that vessels bear a load line that would indicate when they were overloaded, hence ensuring the safety of crew and cargo.

The move was opposed by shipowners, the subsequent bill, drafted by Plimsoll, was defeated in the House in 1875. Plimsoll fought on and created public furore around the subject with his book 'Our Seamen'. Despite a series of legal actions started against him by shipowners Plimsoll was able to get Unseaworthy Ships Bill passed in 1876. The Act required a series of 'lines' to be painted on the ship to show the maximum loading point.
Unfortunately, the Act allowed the shipowners to paint the line where they saw fit and some chose to paint it on the funnel of the ship. It was not until 1890 that Board of Trade officials applied the regulations that Plimsoll had intended.