It's all about balance® 2018
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The Plimsoll Story

Samuel Plimsoll, “The Sailors Friend”

The Plimsoll Mark is located on the port and starboard side of a ship, some painstakingly etched with a stencil, while others are crudely done in haste, sprayed from a can of 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 or simply the Load Line, the symbol found on all sea-going vessels provides a graphic illustration of just how much cargo a ship can load, be balanced and safe to sail.

It was 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 who had been lost at sea, but it wasn’t human life, or balance of a vessel, ships were often overloaded in 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 book Our Seamen, much to the disapproval of ship owners. Through his passionate speeches, however, Plimsoll gain 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 is 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 can safely head out to sea. Where do you find yours?

In well known days we sing the praise of men renowned in war,
How heroes brave on land and wave have fought for us of yore;
But I will sing of one who fought tho' not in deadly strife,
The noble object that he sought was saving human life, so...

A cheer for Samuel Plimsoll and let your voices blend,
In praise of one who truly has proved the sailors' 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)
From monologues.co.uk Music Hall Lyrics Collection

For more information about the history of Samuel Plimsoll and the Plimsoll Line, we highly recommend this podcast.

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