With Disastrous Consequences: London Disasters 1830-1917

With Disastrous Consequences: London Disasters 1830-1917

With Disastrous Consequences: London Disasters 1830-1917

With Disastrous Consequences: London Disasters 1830-1917


The story of industrial explosions, fires, maritime accidents, rail crashes, terrorist attacks, collapsing buildings and panics in London in the last century. The book looks at rescue efforts and disaster management, and shows how victims were treated in the days reliance on others was a sin.


By Dr Ken Hines

Medical knowledge has expanded enormously in the past century or so. Doctors have access to diagnostic techniques, treatments and lifesaving equipment which would bewilder and amaze their turn of the century counterparts. a nineteenth-century gp in the East End would daily witness the grim effects of deprivation—malnutrition, cholera, typhoid and high infant mortality. Much of the workload in an East London surgery today is tackling the stressful effects of a very different lifestyle. in disaster prevention and disaster management it might appear that there is little to learn from our predecessors in the embryo emergency services of the nineteenth century. Yet to err is human—-and to do so again and again is more typical of the species. Many of the disasters unfurled in this book bear striking parallels with more modern catastrophes, and show that many lessons of history have still to be learnt.

The sinking of the Marchioness in August 1989 shows obvious similarities with the Princess Alice disaster of 1878. Both involved Thames pleasure boats being overwhelmed in collisions with much larger, ironhulled ships. Both incidents were attributed to navigational errors and to the lack of clear guidelines for procedures on the river. Each was followed by those in authority ordering more stringent river regulations. Neither owner knew exactly how many passengers were being carried on board their boats at the time, and in the case of the Princess Alice the final death toll was never established. Following the sinking of the Marchioness the government at last ordered all boats to maintain accurate records of passenger numbers.

The mid-Victorians were the first to witness Irish terrorism on mainland Britain, and more than a hundred years later the techniques and effects of such outrages remain virtually unchanged. the Fenians, like today's ira, aimed to cause maximum disruption with minimal . . .

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