SS Princess Alice

If it had not been for a generous soul in Orkney who knew of my family history interests I would never have known of the Princess Alice.

Perhaps, if we had a different approach to learning of our history as a nation, we should all have known of the Princess Alice. The folksong written by Dave Rickard notes the significance of the tragedy not only in number of lives lost, but also in its consequences:- The rules of navigation and the policing of the Thames were changed; The state of the Thames and London's sewage system was addressed; The need to change other more detailed matters was recognised - Churchwardens' responsibilities for the burial of bodies washed ashore - Loss of earnings of witnesses at long inquests and inquiries - and much more...

The impact was felt far and wide - there were individual passengers from Birmingham, Bradford and Hull - though settled in London, from Shepton Mallet in Somerset came not only the household of the Alesbury family which was decimated, but also a young bride returning with her husband from honeymoon...

I hope that as you explore this site and it's links you will sense the importance of the Princess Alice, remember for a moment those whose suffering is similar and more recent (e.g. The Marchioness) .... and be moved to share the story with others...

Colin Alsbury
'SS Princess Alice' group on Facebook
Public Record OfficeMT 9/160 (was M.1925/79) Papers relating to the Inquiry into the collision of the 'Princess Alice' and 'Bywell Castle'
T 1/15974 Papers from the Treasury relating to expenses incurred in 'Princess Alice' inquiry
Coroners papers Greenwich area On deposit at the London Metropolitan Archive
NewspapersKentish Mercury - 1878 Reports dated:
Sept 7 - 'Awful catastrophe on the Thames'
Sept 14 - Inquest proceedings and funeral details
Sept 21 - List of saved, missing, unidentified and lost
Sept 28 to Nov 23 - reports of Inquest
Nov 30 - verdict of Coroner's inquest
Online info List of crew and passengers Name list of people mentioned in newspapers and elsewhere as saved, dead or missing
- further details available from Colin Alsbury
Books'The great Thames disaster' published 1965 by G Allen & Unwin, London
Author: Gavin Thurston - long out of print - some second hand copies about at reasonable price
173 p illus with map
'The Wreck of the Princess Alice' published 1878, London
Author: Edwin Guest Email me, please, if you find a copy of this book!

'With disastrous consequences: London disasters, 1830-1917' published 1992 by Hisarlik Press, Enfield Lock
Author: Wendy Neal
270 p ill
ISBN 1874312001
Books for background reading 'Paddle Steamers of the Thames includes some images of the 'Princess Alice'
published 2000 by Tempus Publishing, Stroud
Author: Peter Box
128 pp illus
ISBN 0752417312
Websites LostLiners Images and information about a number of passenger ship tragedies - includes some images of the 'Princess Alice' disaster
National Maritme Museum Gallery exhibits including a model of the scene...
Folk Song The Princess Alice Folksong written in 1978 to mark the 100th anniversary of the tragedy - on the album 'Lonesome Boatman' EMCD01 available from PlayRoom Records at Home Park Studios Limited