Plimsoll – The man, the MP and the line

Via Jen Robertson’s research I have become aware of the man behind the famous Plimsoll Line on ships.

He was clearly a fascinating chap and no ordinary campaigner, indeed he was an extraordinary campaigner for the rights of seafarers. The line on ships was indeed the result of his campaigning against the overloading of ships which led to them capsizing. Wikipedia has this to say about him:-

It’s interesting to learn that Plimsoll shoes were so named because of the line around them, not because Samuel invented them, which of course he didn’t.

But one aspect of his time in public life, probably more than anything else, singled him out as being a Liberal to his core. The story comes from a book The Plimsoll Sensation: The Great Campaign to Save Lives at Sea by Nicolette Jones

Charles Bradlaugh was an MP who fell foul of Parliament because of his lack of religious beliefs. Elected for Northampton in 1880, he was banished from the House of Commons because he would not say ‘So help me God’. Plimsoll was a very religious man but never the less he wrote to Bradlaugh and The Times newspaper backing the banished MP.