The loss of the Costa Concordia in 2012 shocked Europe when thirty-two passengers died on a luxury liner. Yet in mid-Victorian times, more lives than this were lost in shipwrecks every week. This book will tell the story of one particularly notorious Victorian wreck that the author has been researching for over ten years.
The sinking of the SS London in 1866 provoked incredulity because of the especially heavy death toll: a large, new, luxury liner en route to Australia went down shortly after leaving England. All but three passengers died, including several well-known personalities, and the captain himself was a celebrated mariner.
This book tells the story of the vessel's loss within the wider context of mid-Victorian maritime history - a time of great change. Seamen led a precarious existence as employees and faced many dangers, yet the British Empire was expanding and it needed them. The technology and appearance of ships were changing rapidly, passenger expectations were evolving, and behind it all was the often treacherous business of managing shipping lines.