The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Grace Darling's lifeboat

Grace Darling's lifeboat

A carte-de-visite showing the Grace Darling lifeboat, exhibited by the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society at the Great International Fisheries Exhibition, South Kensington, in 1883.

An extensive printed caption verso tells the story. ‘On the 7th of September, 1838, the Forfarshire, in the midst of a terrific storm, struck upon Hawker’s Rock, in the Farne Islands; broke in two, and all those in the after end of the vessel perished. Half a mile from the wreck stood the Longstone Lighthouse where GRACE DARLING and her father were. She, hearing the shrieks of the survivors, earnestly entreated her father to join her in rescuing them. He pointed to the furious waves, and asked what could be done in such a sea as that. At length, in compliance with her entreaties, he yielded, and the coble was launched with the aid of the father and mother of the heroine, and out the father and daughter went into that mountainous sea, death in their wake and mercy and compassion piloting them. They reached the wreck, and one by one the nine unfortunate survivors were got into the coble, one of them, a mother still fondling to her heart the bodies of her children who had perished during the night. GRACE DARLING and her father at length regained the Lighthouse but such was the severity of the gale that for two days and nights the grateful voyagers were imprisoned there, and from its summit looked down upon the raging sea from which they had been so nobly rescued.’

The International Fisheries Exhibition in South Kensington ran from 12 May 1883 until 31 October 1883, during which time it attracted some 2.6 million visitors. According to a report in the South London News (19 May 1883): 'The Exhibition altogether covers twenty-three acres of ground, and contains exhibits from twenty of the nations of the earth, including China, Japan, Russia, and the United States of America, as well as many other countries in all the corners of the globe.' According to the same source: 'It would be impossible for anyone possessing average mental capacity to walk through its arcades and quadrants and not to learn much that is valuable not only about fish and fishing, but about the persons engaged in this industry all over the world.'

Photographed by the London Stereoscopic Company

Code: 126637
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