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Old June 16th, 2016, 07:59 AM   #11
Adam Went
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Phillip:

I would say that the heavy loss of life would also make the Princess Alice disaster more notable. Victorian era sailors who went to sea on freighters and the like already had a considerable element of danger about their jobs. Obviously this is before the time of Marconi and wireless communication. On the other hand, nobody would be expecting to go for a peaceful cruise up the Thames on the Princess Alice and, within a few minutes, find themselves drowning amongst throngs of others whilst land was in sight. That's not to say that there wasn't a considerable number of maritime disasters during the LVP, just that the Princess Alice hit home a little harder.

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Adam.
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Old June 17th, 2016, 04:20 AM   #12
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The Princess Alice is still the marine disaster that caused the greatest loss of life ever, within British territorial waters. That alone makes it remarkable and its extraordinary that it's been forgotten in the way it has. I have looked for a book on this disaster but there is none as far as I know.

Everything seemed to conspire against passenger survival. The incredibly swift sinking of the Princess Alice for instance, the fact that it sank right at the most polluted part of the Thames, (so if the passengers weren't dragged down by heavy clothing they literally drowned in sewage in many cases) so many hundreds of Lononers, male and female, who had never learned to swim and therefore had no chance of saving themselves. It's all so very sad.

To add insult to injury too, the other vessel involved, the collier 'Bywell Castle' was lost with all hands in the Bay of Biscay in 1883.
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Old June 17th, 2016, 11:54 AM   #13
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Considering Liz and the Princess Alice, we could speculate a bit, for what it's worth. When people are near or observe terrible disasters, they feel a part of the action. Like it is said that everyone of my generation remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Those who are extremely physically close to events have even more vivid accounts of their involvement in historic tragedies, even if they were just bystanders.

So I wonder if Liz witnessed the disaster or had friends who were aboard. On the other hand she was known to be a drinker and surely Princess Alice lore was discussed in the pubs. Maybe over time she felt a part of what happened.
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Old June 18th, 2016, 09:52 AM   #14
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Yes Anna. I think people sometimes do want to be the centre of attention, want to gain some admiration and sympathy. Years ago there was a man who apparently used to hold court in our local pub with tales of his experiences as a army sergeant with Australian troops in the Vietnam war.

He had dozens of tales to tell and on Anzac Day even marched wearing medals with the other local ex servicemen. It only came out, after one ex serviceman got suspicious of him, that he'd studied up on the War, bought his medals and the nearest he'd been to Vietnam was on a holiday to Thailand!

Sad and pathetic as that is, I can imagine Liz might want to brighten up her drab life and those of her companions in the pub in the same sort of way. Tragedy in the loss of husband and family, pathos in now being a sorrowing childless widow, and also triumphing over death by surviving a terrible sinking.
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Old June 18th, 2016, 04:57 PM   #15
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Hi Curryong,

I've never believed the story of Stride losing family members in the Princess Alice disaster, however, I do believe that she made a spurious claim on the fund and quite possibly knew someone who perished in the disaster. Given the fact that many of the victims remained unidentified, potentially left it open for anyone to make a false claim against the fund.

It's remarkable that even today there is a type of person in society who attempt to attach themselves to tragedies in order to illicit sympathy, if not money. However, given the extreme deprivation of the time that many people existed under, it's perhaps not too surprising that Stride should have made such a claim. Perhaps there was a trend in making claims against disasters.

I once worked at the Woolwich Arsenal for two years and researched its history. Warren trained here, Ostrog was arrested here, and one of Druitt's brothers also trained here; the bodies of the victims' of the Princess Alice disaster were also stored here in makeshift mortuaries, referred to a "sheds".

The Woolwich Arsenal Heritage Centre hold a small collection of sketches and artefacts relating to the 1878 disaster, but no documents mentioning Warren, Ostrog or Druitt. I've checked!

Best wishes,

Sean.
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Old June 24th, 2016, 10:48 AM   #16
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Hi all,

Curryong:

No, I don't believe there's ever been a full length book written on the subject. Bit of a shame really as there's ample material out there if you care to look, especially press reports and the like from the time which are fairly easily accessible now. Sadly, however, i'm not sure how well such a book would sell as the interest and knowledge of the disaster just isn't there.

Anna:

I have to agree with Sean that given the circumstances Liz and plenty of her fellow women were living in, it's not surprising that they would seize the opportunity to try and make a claim for monetary gain. It's possible of course that she may have had friends or distant relatives on the boat, but her claim was for immediate family. In any case it definitely would have been the talk of the town for weeks and possibly months afterward, so word would have got around.

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Old June 24th, 2016, 12:22 PM   #17
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There was a bit more to Liz' Princess Alice tale, though. Her associates reported that she blamed a speech impediment on getting kicked in the face while escaping the disaster.

As I have said many times, her mouth appears deformed in the mortuary photo, but who knows how she was assaulted in the last hours of her life. The postmortem did not find the kind of damage she blamed on the kick in the face, though she had a number of missing teeth, on the bottom jaw if I remember correctly.

This doesn't mean anything one way or another about proving her presence on the Princess Alice. She at least seems to have used the disaster to define parts of her life. If her tales are made up, then a question would be, what is the kernel of truth, if any? Perhaps she had a significant injury at the time of the disaster and her cleaned up version was based on the Princess Alice. For example if she was badly beaten by a man at that time, could she have covered the actual circumstances with something less embarrassing, even heroic? Wonder if she could be found in infirmary records around that time?

I have known abused women who have done just this; covered a severe, even life threatening beating by a man, with a heroic tale.
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Old June 24th, 2016, 03:36 PM   #18
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Hi Curryong,

To my knowledge, three books have been published on the Princess Alice Disaster. They are: The Wreck of the Princess Alice, by Edwin Guest, 1878. A very rare book. The Great Thames Disaster, by Gavin Thurston, 1965. And more recently, The Princess Alice Disaster, by Joan Lock, 2013. The last two can often be had from Amazon and sometimes come up on e-bay.

Best wishes,

Sean.
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Old June 24th, 2016, 04:24 PM   #19
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,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anna Morris View Post
There was a bit more to Liz' Princess Alice tale, though. Her associates reported that she blamed a speech impediment on getting kicked in the face while escaping the disaster.

As I have said many times, her mouth appears deformed in the mortuary photo, but who knows how she was assaulted in the last hours of her life. The postmortem did not find the kind of damage she blamed on the kick in the face, though she had a number of missing teeth, on the bottom jaw if I remember correctly.

This doesn't mean anything one way or another about proving her presence on the Princess Alice. She at least seems to have used the disaster to define parts of her life. If her tales are made up, then a question would be, what is the kernel of truth, if any? Perhaps she had a significant injury at the time of the disaster and her cleaned up version was based on the Princess Alice. For example if she was badly beaten by a man at that time, could she have covered the actual circumstances with something less embarrassing, even heroic? Wonder if she could be found in infirmary records around that time?

I have known abused women who have done just this; covered a severe, even life threatening beating by a man, with a heroic tale.
Hi Anna,

The infirmary records may well be worth a search, although I'm not sure where any of the injured survivors were treated. There was a large hospital in Shooters Hill, not too far from Woolwich town centre, which has since been converted into luxury apartments. Aside, there's also a public house in Thamesmead named The Princess Alice which is located near Gallions Reach, where the fatal collision took place. I've been there a couple of times for Sunday lunch.

Sadly it's quite feasible that Liz may have been seriously assaulted at some point in her past by a former client or partner, hence the apparent deformity and deficient teeth. The deformity could also be the result of a congenital defect; the missing teeth could be the result of poor diet and a lack of oral hygiene, hence the cachous!

My regards,

Sean.
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Old June 24th, 2016, 06:59 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phillip Walton View Post
There were many marine disasters during the LVP, its only because it happened on the River Thames that the Princess Alice disaster is notable. Many disasters occured at sea where the only indication was when a vessel failed to arrive at its destination.
Hi Phillip,

If I remember correctly the Princess Alice disaster was the worst inland maritime disaster of the age.

Best wishes,

Sean.
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