The Plimsoll Legacy

Samuel Plimsoll:  The Sailor's Friend

The Plimsoll Mark is located on port and starboard side of a ship some painstakingly etched with stencil while others are crudely done in haste sprayed from can waterproof paint or worse. But the mark established by Samuel Plimsoll in the 19th century continues to provide safe passage for many a mariner today. Known as the Plimsoll Mark, waterline or simply the load line, the symbol found all sea-going vessels provides graphic illustration just how much cargo a ship can load, be balanced and safe to sail.

It was a fight only Plimsoll could have taken on. A champion for mariners, Plimsoll picked up the torch on their behalf, spearheading the passage of protective laws.  From the 1830s, there had been public outcry about the number of souls that had been lost at sea. It wasn't human life or balance of a vessel on the minds of ship owners. These vessels were often overloaded in the hopes of carrying as much cargo as possible from one port of call to another.  A member of the British Parliament, Plimsoll identified these vessels as 'coffin ships' in his 1873 paper, Our Seamen, much to the disapproval of these ship owners.  Through his passionate speeches, however, Plimsoll gained the attention of the House of Commons, forcing laws that would protect sailors for years to come.

Despite global advances in technology, the Plimsoll Mark continues to be the line that keeps all things balanced at sea-a visual reminder of how important it its to measure our load and lighten when necessary.  It's simplistic at best, but it is a vital mark for all areas of life; a symbol that can easily translate to career, health, or fitness.  Plimsoll found his balance in the House of Commons but we all have a load line, a balanced mark, a point at which we safely head out to sea.  

Where do you find yours?

A cheer for Samuel Plimsoll and let your voices blend.  In praise for one who truly has proved the sailor's friend.  Our tars upon the ocean, he struggled to defend.  Success to Samuel Plimsoll for he's the sailors' friend.

Written, composed and performed by Fred Albert (1844-1886)