The Plimsoll Sensation
Samuel Plimsoll was a self-made Victorian who became an MP and, against considerable opposition, championed the introduction of what became known as the Plimsoll line on ships to prevent the dangerous, profiteering practice of overloading which had caused the deaths of many sailors. This book is the story of the likeable, determined Plimsoll and the ten-year campaign for humane legislation that nearly ruined him. It’s written with great narrative gusto underpinned by solid research and insightful comment. There’s a glossy photographic section, and the text is liberally illustrated with contemporary cartoons and other magazine illustrations showing the plight of merchant seamen and their families, the popular support Plimsoll gained, and the often acrimonious political infighting that took place during what became known as The Plimsoll Sensation. This is an excellent addition to that genre of popular history which sets out to tackle a single theme and ends by illuminating an age.