Samuel Plimsoll, English social reformer, 1873.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Caricature of Samuel Plimsoll (1824-1898), also known as 'The Sailors' Friend', from 'Vanity Fair' magazine. Plimsoll was born in Bristol and established himself as a coal merchant in London in 1853. He was MP for Derby from 1868-80, and in 1876 succeeded in pasing the Merchant Shipping Act. This act meant that every ship owner had to mark a circle on the side of their ship with a horizontal line drawn throught its centre - the Plimsoll line - down to which the vesel could be loaded. Plimsoll was president of the Sailors' and Firemen's Union in 1890 and published numerous articles on merchant shipping.