Plimsoll, Samuel

Plimsoll, Samuel
SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
b. 10 February 1824 Bristol, England
d. 8 June 1898 Folkestone, Kent, England
English inventor of the Plimsoll Line on ships.
Plimsoll was educated privately and at Dr Eadon's school in Sheffield. On leaving school he became Clerk to a solicitor and then to a brewery, where he rose to become Manager. In 1851 he acted as an honorary secretary to the Great Exhibition. Two years later he went to London and set up as a coal merchant: he published two pamphlets on the coal trade in 1862. After several unsuccessful attempts, he managed to be elected as Member of Parliament for Derby in 1868, in the Radical interest. He concerned himself with mercantile shipping and in 1870 he began his campaign to improve safety at sea, particularly by the imposition of a load-line on vessels to prevent dangerous overloading. In 1871 he introduced a resolution into the House of Commons and also a bill, the Government also having proposed one on the same subject, but strong opposition from the powerful shipping-business interest forced a withdrawal. Plimsoll published a pamphlet, Our Seamen, bitterly attacking the shipowners. This aroused public feeling and controversy, and under pressure the Government appointed a Royal Commission in 1873, under the chairmanship of the Duke of Somerset, to examine the matter. Their report did not support Plimsoll's proposal for a load-line, but that did not prevent him from bringing forward his own bill, which was narrowly defeated by only three votes. The Government then introduced its own merchant shipping bill in 1875, but it was so mauled by the Opposition that the Prime Minister, Disraeli, threatened to withdraw it. That provoked a violent protest from Plimsoll in the House, including a description of the shipowners which earned him temporary suspension from the House. He was allowed to return after an apology, but the incident served to heighten public feeling for the seamen. The Government were obliged to hustle through the Merchant Shipping Act 1876, which ensured, among other things, that ships should be marked with what has become universally known as the Plimsoll Line; Plimsoll himself became known as "The Seamen's Friend".
In 1880 he relinquished his parliamentary seat at Derby, but he continued his campaign to improve conditions for seamen and to ensure that the measures in the Act were properly carried out.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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  • Plimsoll, Samuel — born Feb. 10, 1824, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Eng. died June 3, 1898, Folkestone, Kent British reformer. A London coal merchant, he served in Parliament (1868–80). With his book Our Seamen (1873), he helped overcome resistance to the Merchant… …   Universalium

  • Plimsoll, Samuel — (10 feb. 1824, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Inglaterra–3 jun. 1898, Folkestone, Kent). Reformador británico. Comerciante de carbón en Londres y parlamentario (1868–80). Con su libro Our Seamen [Nuestros marinos] (1873), ayudó a vencer las… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • PLIMSOLL, SAMUEL —     the sailor s friend, born at Bristol; after experience in a Sheffield brewery entered business in London as a coal dealer; interesting himself in the condition of the sailor s life in the mercantile marine, he directed public attention to… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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  • Samuel — /sam yooh euhl/, n. 1. a judge and prophet of Israel. I Sam. 1 3; 8 15. 2. either of two books of the Bible bearing his name. Abbr.: I Sam., II Sam. 3. a male given name: from a Hebrew word meaning name of God. * * * I (с 11th century BC) Old… …   Universalium

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  • Plimsoll Line —    Samuel Plimsoll (1824 1898) was born in Bristol, England. He started out as a brewery clerk, became a manager, and then became a coal dealer. Elected to Parliament (1868) from Derby, Plimsoll cast about for a cause that could inspire him and… …   Dictionary of eponyms

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