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  • The Princess Alice Disaster.

    Hi,

    About six years ago I visited Woolwich Cemetery, Kings Highway, Plumstead, S.E. London.

    The cemetery, being the final resting place of the Princess Alice Disaster victims, contains a memorial to the victims. Apparently the crosses marking out each grave were removed during the 1970s.

    I spoke with the cemetery's manager who very kindly invited me into his office. While chatting over a cup of tea he retrieved the original burial registers relating to the victims of the disaster. He happened to mention that many of the victims remained unidentified. On examining the registers myself I found this to be true. So, perhaps it's just possible that there may well be a grain of truth somewhere in Stride's story.

    The cemetery manager also provided me with a copy of the following photograph (below) which was hanging on the office wall and was taken c.1914.

    Best wishes,

    Sean.





    http://www.jtrforums.com/images/styl...attach/jpg.gif
    Attached Files

  • #2
    A BIG problem with Liz' 'Princess Alice' story is that she claimed to have lost her husband and children. Modern research show her husband to not have died on the ship. There seems to be NO record or contemporary source that would verify that she had ANY children.

    On the other hand, I suppose it is possible Liz could have had a relationship she considered to be a marriage and there could have been children in that relationship. But nothing like this has been suggested.

    The autopsy did not find the sort of injury she described and her contemporaries did not seem to believe she had a speech impediment, yet as I recall, the autopsy showed a number of missing teeth. The missing teeth were not necessarily in the location she indicated where she was kicked in the face.

    I have always been fascinated by her post mortem photo because it looks like her right upper lip was badly damaged or swollen. Was it that way in life; if so was it the injury she claimed from the 'Princess Alice' disaster? Did her killer do it? Was she the woman pulled about by BSM, and did he do it? Or would a peri-mortem injury of that sort be noticeable after death?
    The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

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    • #3
      There were a lot of false compensation claims in relation to this disaster.

      As Sean states, many victims remain unknown so one can understand the temptation.

      Monty

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Monty View Post
        There were a lot of false compensation claims in relation to this disaster.

        As Sean states, many victims remain unknown so one can understand the temptation.

        Monty
        What kind of proof may have been required to receive payments? For example, if Liz claimed loss of husband and children, would she have been asked for a marriage record or records of birth for the children? How were payments awarded?
        The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

        Comment


        • #5
          I wrote an article about the Princess Alice a few years back and it really was quite a tragedy in its day. Only a small percentage of the total number of passengers on board actually survived, given the boat went down in just four minutes in the foul, sewage-infested water of the Thames. I've even read of people who survived the sinking itself but later died from complications of having been in the water. A number of families were completely wiped out or close to it - the newspaper reports from the time are testament to that.

          As for Liz herself, as has been said, there's no evidence that she or any of her family members were on board. Passenger lists still exist online and unless she was travelling under a false name - and why would she be? - there's no sign of her. Of course at the time before the information was correctly compiled it would have been easier to seek compensation or support payments, which Liz did from the Swedish church in England. As for how much the relief provided was or the details of how it was obtained, there are others i'm sure who would be able to give a much more detailed answer. Chances are Liz simply saw an opportunity to obtain some much needed financial assistance and took it.

          Cheers,
          Adam.

          Comment


          • #6
            Some accounts of the "Princess Alice" disaster mention that the people were wearing such heavy clothing, as was the style of those days, that the clothing also weighed them down and caused drownings.
            The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

            Comment


            • #7
              Anna:

              That would probably be the case in some instances as well. Also, i'm not convinced about the extent of the knowledge of water safety and survival techniques in London circa 1878. That's what makes the disaster all the more tragic - it wasn't as if it happened in the middle of nowhere, dry land was almost literally a stones throw away.

              Cheers,
              Adam.

              Comment


              • #8
                Adam:

                I have also read that the land was very close but people did not know how to swim. They panicked and floundered and their heavy clothing helped drag them down in that state. Today, if we fell into water with heavy clothing, we would probably strip. In those days, especially for women, drowning may have been preferable to stripping off heavy skirts, petticoats and whatever.
                The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Anna,

                  Yes you're right, I think that it would have been quite an effort to strip off enough clothes to survive the way most Victorian-era women were clad! The most telling factor was that the boat sank in just four minutes, so there just wasn't enough time to be able to organise any rafts either from the shore or makeshift ones from the Princess Alice itself.

                  Because of the maritime disasters that would follow in the decades to come, the most obvious one being Titanic but there are several other notables, I think that the Princess Alice has been forgotten quite a bit these days. That's a shame because it really was a huge tragedy at the time.

                  Cheers,
                  Adam.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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.

                      Cheers,
                      Adam.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          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.
                          The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            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.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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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