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Elliot Read family memorial, St George Reforne, Portland
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Image by Stoutcob
In Loving Memory of
Aged 88 Years
To dwell with Christ is better life

OCTOBER 19TH 1870,
In the midst of life we are in death.

Aged 62 Years.

Escaped to the Mansions of light,
And lodged in the Eden above.



According to : the SS Theban was a steamship built by Robert Duncan & Co of Glasgow, launched in 1866, carrying cargo. All that seems to be known of her fate is"Left Gibraltar for Glasgow 2 Jan 1870 & disappeared".

The S S Cambria was a steamship, also built by Robert Duncan & Co of Glasgow, launched in 1869, carrying passengers. According to Wikipedia:
"The SS Cambria of the Anchor Line (Glasgow) was wrecked on the return eastbound for Europe, off the north west of Ireland on 19 October, 1870. Four of its boats were found drifting off the Giant’s Causeway with no sign of the passengers or crew. The wrecked stern washed ashore at Islay, Scotland. 179 passengers and crewmembers were drowned; there was one survivor." quotes a report from Lloyds 23 October 1870:

"The Enterprise steamer from Garston for this port picked up off Innishowan head at three p.m. to-day a boat containing a sailor and the corpse of a girl. The sailor states that he belonged to the Cambria steamer of the Anchor line which left NewYork on the 8th October that the Cambria struck on Inishstrahull island at 10 o’clock last night and that four boats besides the one he was in left the vessel. His boat he says capsized and all those in it excepting himself were drowned."


The fact that the SS Theban and the SS Cambria were newly built, from the same yard, started me wondering about the safety record of iron hulled ships. But there’s no suggestion anywhere on the internet that iron hulls were intrinsically weaker than wooden hulls. The huge numbers of ships lost during the 19th century seems simply to reflect the huge amount of traffic on the seas at that period, and the fact that UK marine traffic was, at the start of the 19th century, wholly unregulated so that ships might be poorly maintained, poorly equipped, poorly crewed, overloaded, and in the case of passenger vessels, overcrowded.

"The technological innovations that accompanied the Industrial Revolution encouraged the development of maritime transport during the 19th century. The most important developments were undoubtedly the introduction of steam-powered engines on board ships and the construction of iron and then steel hulls. These technical advances were accompanied, however, by an increase in risks at sea, corresponding to the greater number, size and speed of the vessels engaged in trade. Accident statistics reflect the acuteness of the problem: during the winter of 1820 alone, more than two thousand ships were wrecked in the North Sea, causing the deaths of twenty thousand people.

The principal attempts to achieve greater safety took place within a purely private framework: administrative supervision of shipping was regarded as a hindrance to free trade. There were fears of over-zealous states adopting excessively restrictive and invasive regulations, out of place in an industry subject to such fierce international competition. It was generally considered that the proper interest of the shipowner, who had committed all his wealth to the acquisition of ships, ultimately represented the best guarantee of safety for all concerned. This laissez-faire attitude remained predominant through the first half of the 19th century, which saw the birth of the earliest classification societies. These purely private organizations made a fundamental contribution to the assessment of the safety of merchant ships by providing maritime insurers with accurate and regular information on the quality of shipping and ship equipment."
Source: The International Maritime Organisation’s very informative web-page on the history of maritime safety.

As to relying on the self-interest of the ship-owner… In his book, ‘The History of the Ship’, Richard Woodman recounts how, during the First World War when hundreds of cargo boats were being lost to U-boat attack, ‘the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Bonar Law, made a tactless speech in the House of Commons, boasting of profits he had made from compensation paid him for the losses of ships in which he had an interest’.

But, back in the 19th century, thanks to public opinion, the tide was gradually turning in favour of state intervention:

"This trend began in 1836 with the appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee to examine the causes of the steady increase in shipwrecks. The investigation drew attention to ten determining factors, including defective construction, inadequate equipment, imperfect state of repair, improper and excessive loading, incompetence of masters. drunkenness among officers and crew, and marine insurance which inclined shipowners to disregard safety. A first aerie of measures was introduced after the publication of the parliamentary report. In 1839, restrictions were placed on the transport of timber deck cargoes in the North Atlantic. In 1840 appeared the first rules on lights and traffic at sea. From 1846, passenger ships had to be inspected by officially approved surveyors.

The most important advance came with the Merchant Shipping Act of 1850. This legislation marked the real start of State action under the auspices of the Board of Trade, which had the task of monitoring, regulating and controlling all issues relating to merchant shipping, and more specifically the safety of ships and the working conditions of seamen, in order to correct the serious abuses that had been found. A bill passed in 1854 strengthened the powers of this government body. Also adopted was a whole series of technical provisions concerning safety equipment on wooden ships. The law also required iron ships to be fitted with a collision bulkhead and engine bulkheads. However, these measures had little effect, and an average of two thousand ships were lost annually. In 1867 alone, there were 1,313 shipwrecks causing the death of 2,340 British sailors and 137 passengers.

In 1873, a Royal Commission was set up to investigate the claimed unseaworthiness of British vessels, particularly the conditions of loading. A member of Parliament, Samuel Plimsoll, made a number of observations, denouncing the scandal of "coffin ships". A year after the publication of his manifesto, Parliament adopted the Merchant Shipping Act of 1876, known as the "Plimsoll Act". This laid down new requirements, with criminal penalties for shipowners found guilty of operating ships that presented a risk for human life. The Board of trade was for the first time authorised to detain substandard ships coming to take on cargoes in British ports."

Among the measures introduced to improve safety were the inspection and certification of vessels, and the registration of crew. From 1850, Certificates of Service were issued to seamen who could prove long service, and Certificates of Competency were issued to new crew passing an examination. The keeping of a log became mandatory. Lifeboats were to be carried (though not always enough to evacuate every person on board – ‘In 1870, the Secretary to the Board of Trade, in answering a question at the House of Commons about the sinking of the PS Normandy said that "in the opinion of the Board of Trade, it will not be possible to compel passenger steamers running between England and France to have boats sufficient for every numerous passenger they carry. They would encumber the decks and rather add to the danger than detract from it"’. ).


To get a feel for the many, many ways a 19th century ship might simply vanish at sea, you can read the Wreck Reports which are available online (for the years 1876 onwards), on the Southampton Port City website.

Navigational errors seem to account for by far the most of the incidents, along with foul weather (classified as ‘perils of the sea’) and collisions. But then there are also cases of boilers exploding, propeller shafts breaking and piercing the hull, badly stowed loads shifting in storms. Attempts to launch lifeboats rarely go smoothly.

Some of the reports draw clear conclusions. For example, here’s the ‘Galatea’, lost on 16th November 1880 with twenty-one crew:

"The Court, having carefully inquired into the circumstances of the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons annexed,-

1. That the loss of the vessel was due to an empty space having been left in the after part of the ‘tween decks, into which when the vessel fell over on her side, the cargo shifted, thus keeping her down on her beam ends; and that, when in this position, the point of the steel main-topsail yard fell on the leeside of the deck, making a hole in it, through which the water found its way into the vessel, and gradually filled her till she sank, the pumps having been disabled by the fallen rigging."…

Other reports can only point to likely causes. For example, there’s the ‘Borussia’ which sank on 2nd December 1879 with the loss of 154 passengers and crew. The detailed Board of Trade report investigates the possibility that the vessel had been unseaworthy, commenting that the ship was suspiciously cheap at the time of purchase:

"The ‘Borussia,’ it seems, was built in the year 1855 by Messrs. Caird & Co., of Greenock, for a Hamburgh company, to run between Hamburgh and New York, and in the year 1876, at which time she was 21 years old, she was bought by her late owners, the Mississippi and Dominion Steamship Company, Limited. The price given for her by the company was only 15,000l., and although they tell us that they then spent 5,000l. upon her, it is needless to say that it was an extremely low price to give for such a vessel, seeing that she had a gross tonnage of 2,075 tons and that in 1871 she had had new compound engines, built by Day & Co., of Southampton, put into her… "

Before going on to produce evidence that seamen travelling on the ship on a previous voyage had had problems with the rivets in her hull falling out:

"…This then brings us to the fourth question, namely, "What was the cause of the leak and where was it?" and on this point it seems to us that there can be very little doubt. Here is a vessel, strongly built no doubt originally, but 25 years of age, and probably with the rivet holes punched so that if the rivets became reduced at all by corrosion they would have a tendency to drop out. We find, too, that in June 1878 some of these rivets did in fact fall out whilst she was lying at Havana; and that on her return to this country some 76 or 78 were condemned as insecure. We find also that, owing to repeated or careless caulking, the butts were so slack that in July 1878 two butt straps had to be put on the garboard strake in the way of the stoke-hole, and that in the following March six more butt straps were put on the bilge strake at about the same place. What, therefore, is more likely than that in the rolling of the ship after the gale of the 30th of November some more rivets had dropped out, or some of the butts had given way, and that thus the water got into the vessel."…

Image from page 241 of “Machinery for metalliferous mines : a practical treatise for mining engineers, metallurgists and managers of mines” (1902)
best way to increase internet speed
Image by Internet Archive Book Images
Identifier: machineryformeta00davi
Title: Machinery for metalliferous mines : a practical treatise for mining engineers, metallurgists and managers of mines
Year: 1902 (1900s)
Authors: Davies, E. Henry (Edward Henry)
Subjects: Mining machinery
Publisher: London : Crosby Lockwood New York : Van Nostrand
Contributing Library: University of California Libraries
Digitizing Sponsor: Internet Archive

View Book Page: Book Viewer
About This Book: Catalog Entry
View All Images: All Images From Book

Click here to view book online to see this illustration in context in a browseable online version of this book.

Text Appearing Before Image:
ment to thismachine, adding a pair of small cylinders for use where air pressure isavailable instead of hand labour. Greatly increased speed is thus obtainedwithout in any way affecting the handiness and portability of the drill. The Diamond Rock Drill.—The full-sized Diamond drill (Appleby&■ Beaumonts patent) is shown in fig. 139, and is capable of putting downholes of 16 in. diameter to depths of more than 2000 ft., bringingout solid cores up to 30 ft. long, weighing more than 3 tons, giving aperfect section of the strata passed through, as well as an absolute sampleof their mineral contents. 204 MACHINERY FOR METALLIFEROUS MINES. The framework of the drill is Ijuilt of steel girders, and consists ofa strong tripod mounted on horizontal girders, provided with all theappliances required to rotate the drill, to counter-weight the rods, andgive a uniform pressure on the cutting-head, to manipulate the boringrods, and give the variable supply of water required for forcing to the

Text Appearing After Image:
Fig. 139.—The Diamond Rock Drill. surface the small particles of rock, resembling sand, which have beencut away by the drill in its downward progress. The power is derived from a 10 horse-power portable engine,transmitted by means of belting and gearing. Over the machine aset of sheer legs are erected as high as possible, with a pulley exactlyover the bore hole. By means of a chain connected to the hoistinggear on the drill and i)assing over this pulley, the boring rods can belifted out in lengths of three or four at a time, thus saving much timein unscrewing and recoupling the rods. For very deep borings of large THE DIAMOND ROCK DRILL. 20$ diameter a substantial derrick must be erected, as the weight of rodsand cores may amount to lo tons or over. A lean-to shed protects theengine and drill from the inclemency of the weather. The boring rods are made of solid drawn steel tubes with screwedflush joints, and are caused to rotate by being clipped in a universalchuck to a revolving qu

Note About Images
Please note that these images are extracted from scanned page images that may have been digitally enhanced for readability – coloration and appearance of these illustrations may not perfectly resemble the original work.

Cool Toys Pic of the day – SOPA Strike #SOPAstrike
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Image by rosefirerising
SOPA Strike:

I’m blogging this in several places, because I want to be sure as many
folks as possible are aware of what’s coming. Basically, the SOPA
legislation about which we’ve all heard so much is at the point of
push coming to shove. The big vote is approaching. The supporters and
opponents are becoming ever more fervent. The word is spreading. A
number of influential much-used websites on which folk commonly depend
are joining in a blackout. The general idea is to give folk a taste of
what might happen if the bill actually passes, what kind of
information could theoretically be shut down by the courts. Wikipedia,
Boingboing, Tucows, WordPress, Reddit, Mozilla, Minecraft and many
many more sites are shutting down for the day. There are rumors that
Youtube, Twitter, maybe even Google might be participating. Oh, what
day? Wednesday, January 18. So, plan your work accordingly, because
there are a lot of things you might have trouble doing that day. In
the meantime, here is more information about WHY this is happening.

Preparing for the #SOPAstrike:…

Open Congress: S.968 – PROTECT IP Act of 2011:

"Establishes a system for taking down websites that the Justice
Department determines to be "dedicated to infringing activities." The
DoJ or the copyright owner would be able to commence a legal action
against the alleged infringer and the DoJ would be allowed to demand
that search engines, social networking sites and domain name services
block access to the targeted site. In some cases, action could be
taken to block sites without first allowing the alleged infringer to
defend themselves in court."

Fight for the Future: Protect the Internet Act:

"It’ll give the government new powers to block Americans’ access
websites that corporations don’t like. The bill would criminalize
posting all sorts of standard web content — music playing in the
background of videos, footage of people dancing, kids playing video
games, and posting video of people playing cover songs.
This legislation will stifle free speech and innovation, and even
threaten popular web services like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook."

Public Knowledge: Act Now : This Bill Seriously Screws with the Internet:

"PIPA is overbroad. By including "information location tools," it
makes nearly every actor on the Internet a potential violator.
PIPA is bad international precedent. By sanctioning government
interference with DNS, it would be used as justification for other
countries to hinder freedom of expression of online.
PIPA is ripe for abuse. By creating a "private right of action,"
rights holders could directly go after payment processors and ad
PIPA speeds fragmentation of the Internet. By targeting DNS, it could
lead to a fragmentation of the Internet, running contrary to the U.S.
government’s commitment to advancing a single, global Internet."

Professors’ Letter in Opposition to “Preventing Real Online Threats to
Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011”
(PROTECT-IP Act of 2011, S. 968) July 5, 2011:

"The undersigned are 108 professors from 31 states, the District of
Columbia, andPuerto Rico who teach and write about intellectual
property, Internet law, innovation,and the First Amendment. We
strongly urge the members of Congress to reject thePROTECT-
IP Act (the “Act”)."

The PROTECT IP Act Will Slow Start-up Innovation:…

"While we understand PIPA was originally intended to deal with "rogue"
foreign sites, we think PIPA will ultimately put American innovators
and investors at a clear disadvantage in the global economy. For one,
services dedicated to infringement will simply make their sites easy
to find and access in other ways, and determined users who want to
find blocked content will simply shift to services outside the reach
of U.S. law, in turn giving a leg up to foreign search engines, DNS
providers, social networks, and others. Second, PIPA creates a
dangerous precedent and a convenient excuse for countries to engage in
protectionism and censorship against U.S. services."

NetCoalition Letter Regarding the Private Right of Action in PROTECT IP Act:…

"We believe that the currently proposed private litigation-based
process will, however unintentionally, become a one-sided litigation
machine with rights owners mass- producing virtually identical cases
against foreign domain names for the purpose of obtaining orders to
serve on U.S. payment and advertising companies. Not only do we
believe that this will be a significant driver of new litigation in
federal courts, and will result in an endless stream of court orders
imposing duties on U.S.-based companies, but we also believe that this
litigation-based regime will significantly reduce the incentive that
rights owners have to participate in a cooperative manner in the
processes created by payment and advertising companies to address
illegal activities by third parties. We are confident that upon
further review you will not support creating a private litigation
regime that appears so open to abuse and which will undermine the
prospects for private sector cooperation."

NY Times: Internet Piracy and How to Stop It:

"The broadness of the definition is particularly worrisome because
private companies are given a right to take action under the bill. In
one notorious case, a record label demanded that YouTube take down a
home video of a toddler jiggling in the kitchen to a tune by Prince,
claiming it violated copyright law. Allowing firms to go after a Web
site that “facilitates” intellectual property theft might encourage
that kind of overreaching — and allow the government to black out a
site. … The bill before the Senate is an important step toward
making piracy less profitable. But it shouldn’t pass as is. If
protecting intellectual property is important, so is protecting the
Internet from overzealous enforcement."

LA Times: Policing the Internet:…

"The main problem with the bill is in its effort to render sites
invisible as well as unprofitable. Once a court determines that a site
is dedicated to infringing, the measure would require the companies
that operate domain-name servers to steer Internet users away from it.
This misdirection, however, wouldn’t stop people from going to the
site, because it would still be accessible via its underlying
numerical address or through overseas domain-name servers."

Security and Other Technical Concerns Raised by the DNS Filtering
Requirements in the PROTECT IP Bill:…

"Technical Challenges Raised By Mandatory DNS Filtering
* DNS Filtering in Tension with DNSSEC
* The Proposed DNS Filters Would Be Circumvented Easily
* Circumvention Poses Performance and Security Risks
– Users Will Face Increased Cybersecurity Risk
– ISPs Will Lose Visibility into Network Security Threats
– CDNs Would Likely Face Degraded Performance
* DNS Interdependencies Will Lead to Collateral Damage"

Public Interest Letter to Senate Committee on the Judiciary in
Opposition to S. 968, PROTECT IP Act of 2011:

"Furthermore, the new inclusion of “information location tools” (also
referred to as the “search engine” portion of the bill) has expanded
the legislation’s reach. The term "information location tools" appears
to encompass "director[ies], index[es], reference[s], pointer[s], or
hypertext link[s].” With this provision in place, S. 968 makes nearly
every actor on the Internet potentially subject to enforcement orders
under the bill, raising new policy questions regarding government
interference with online activity and speech.

We continue to urge the Committee to proceed cautiously given the
concerns of the undersigned and we look forward to working with you
and your colleagues in a constructive manner on improving S. 968.


American Association of Law Libraries
Association of College and Research Libraries
American Library Association
Association of Research Libraries
Center for Democracy and Technology
Demand Progress
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Human Rights Watch
Rebecca MacKinnon, Bernard Schwartz Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
Public Knowledge
Reporters sans frontières / Reporters Without Borders
Special Libraries Association"

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