Victorian London - Transport - River - Steamers - Accidents


‘We give an account of the frightful accident which took place about half-past nine o’clock on the morning of yesterday week [August 27,1847] on board the Cricket steamer, one of the boats running between the City and the West-end at the fare of one halfpenny. It appears that the vessel was about to leave the Adelphi pier for London-bridge, having on board about 150 passengers, all quietly seated, when a sudden report was heard, followed by an instantaneous explosion. Immediately the vessel was nearly cleared—some of the - passengers being blown up into the air, falling into the water—others had jumped - over the sides, and were struggling in the - mud. One part of the boiler was hurled 100 feet towards the Watermen’s Adelphi pier, at the bottom of George-street, and another portion of it in a contrary direction towards Waterloo- bridge.
    It is not a little singular that the Cricket was condemned, together with the Ant and Bee, more than six months since, by Mr. Portwine, in his work on the “Steam Engine”, &c., in the following plain language :—“There are three vessels on the Thames, called the Ant, Bee and Cricket—boats which profess to work with low-pressure condensing engines. The public is not aware that they are working at 36 lb. on the square inch. These are the boats plying from Hungerford to London- bridge, and working at high pressure; they may when out of order blow up their decks and the myriads of passengers they are burthened with”. This extract was published by an engineer six months since, and time has too fatally proved Mr. Portwine’s prediction.
    Exaggerated reports were spread of the number of persons killed. It amounts to five; but a great many were hurt.

Illustrated London News 1847