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The Times, Wednesday, Feb 14, 1866; pg. 6; Issue 25421; col G

                         THE LOSS OF THE LONDON.


The inquiry into the circumstances causing the loss of the ship London was again resumed before Mr. TRAILL, the Police-magistrate, and Captain BAKER and Captain HARRIS, as nautical assessors.

Mr. WAWN, the surveyor of Lloyd’s, who was examined on the 30th ult., was again called, and gave some additional evidence as to the condition of the ship before she left the docks, and said that when he certified the vessel he was so satisfied with it generally that he made application to Mr. WIGRAM for the appointment of his son as third engineer to the ship, and Mr. WIGRAM would have given him the appointment but for a previous promise he had made to another person. The tarpauling and other things placed over the hatchway was, in his opinion, a sufficient protection under ordinary circumstances against the inclemency of the weather. It did not strike him that the combings were too low. He agreed with Mr. BASCOMBE that the dead lights should have been rabbited from the outside on an iron frame, which would have prevented their being carried away by an ordinary sea. He did not object to the height of the combings or of the spraketing of the ship. It was the usual mode of building large merchant ships. The only improvement he could suggest with regard to the hatchway was to make the combings higher, which would give additional strength to the ship, and he would make them of iron onstead of teak. The ship was not extra long in proportion to her width, being only seven times and a third her width in length.

Mr. BARBER, surveyor for the Board of Trade, was also recalled, and said he had compared the dimensions of the ship London with the dimensions of several other steamships which he had surveyed at Liverpool and the Clyde, and he had found the comparison favourable to the London. She was not what he would describe as a sharp ship. He did not see anything objectionable in the proportion of the masts and the yards with the length and width of the vessel, and he thought she was of a very excellent construction. He objected to a box spraketing on the weather deck. It prevented the escape of deck water. He preferred a gutter water way. He had heard how the skylight was constructed, and if it had been properly secured by fastenings he was at a loss to account for its becoming unshipped. He did not think the engine compartment itself could have contained sufficient water to cause the ship to founder. It was difficult to fix a maximum load line; a ship might be too light as well as too deep. It was a subject which required careful consideration. The load line of a ship actually varied every day.

Sir Daniel HOOPER said he had been Speaker of the Legislative Assembly at Sydney, Australia, and had gone three voyages to that colony. He was a passenger in the ship London in 1864, and on leaving Plymouth on that occasion he noticed her to lie very deep in the water. On reaching the Bay of Biscay he observed the ship to be very sluggish, and he considered her to be a very heavily-rigged ship. She was very slow before the wind, and did not steer well under sail, even with the screw down. She was not fit to carry a cargo to any extent, and she made bad weather. She was intended for short voyages, and ought not to have had a heavy cargo. No doubt the great difficulty with Captain MARTIN was the screw, which baffled him. Captain MARTIN, as a seaman, was a first-rate man; but as to the ship, whether he were right or wrong in his judgment, he never would have gone on board of her again.

William Cowley MILLER, of Ashburton, said that he had formerly been in the Devonport dockyard, and was now a retired shipbuilder. He had seen the registry of the ship London, and he considered her to be a fair proportioned vessel. He thought her to be rather a full than a sharp ship. He had a decided objection to the system of spraketing. He had built a great many ships; allowed them to be constructed in that manner. With regard to the engine hatchway, he was of opinion that it had been left in an unprotected state, and not properly fastened down; and he also considered that the combings of the hatches both fore and aft were too low. He was of opinion that the spraketing round the London was one of the causes of her foundering; and his belief was that if the ship had had a greater water way to carry off the water there would have been no occasion for the present inquiry.

Thomas WILSON, a retired shipbuilder of Liverpool, said that he differed from the system on which ships had been generally built within the last ten years. During that time there had been a great increase of the length and width in proportion to the beam of the ship; and he disapproved that increased length. He saw the ship London last May when she was in a dry dock at Blackwall. He went to see her in consequence of his son being about to go out to Australia and a friend having recommended him to take his berth in the ship. He went and saw her fore and aft, and she appeared to be an unusually strong iron vessel, quite equal to anything of her class that he had previously seen; but, nevertheless, he had an objection to the ship, which was that her length and depth were too great for her beam; and he came to the conclusion that if she should be heavily laden there would be very great danger in going to sea with her. She was also very much over-sparred. He left her, and would not allow his son to go on board. He should have done the same in the case of any ship similarly constructed.


At the conclusion of this gentleman’s examination the inquiry was again adjourned till to-day.