Clipper James BAINES



Southport Visiter, April 29th, 1858


The beautiful Clipper ship, JAMES BAINES, belonging to Messer’s James BAINES and Co, owners of the, “Black Ball” Australian line of packets, arrived in the Mersey on the 12th instant, and was taken into the Huskisson dock, after a rapid run from Calcutta, to which port, it will be remembered, she sailed from Portsmouth on the, 8th of August last, with troops.

On her home voyage she had on board an Indian cargo; consisting of :-

6694, bags of rice

3703, bales of jute

40, bales of cowhides

7493, bags of linseed

After 2 days discharging, the following are the quantities left in the vessel :-

2200, bales of jute

6213, bags of linseed

6682, bags of rice

All the hides.

The greater portion was consigned to the following houses :-


Messers T and H LITTLEDALE and Co



Messers COX Brothers


Messers LEO SCHUSTER Brothers and Co


The total value of freight was £5413, and there was also a considerable quantity of stores on board.

On Thursday morning a fire broke out in the forehold, and not withstanding the most strenuous exertions the flames gained the mastery, and before the close of day the whole ship was burned to the waters edge, and lay like a huge cinder in the dock. The masts fell in the course of the afternoon, destroying part of the roof of the quay shed in their descent, but, fortunately, no one was injured. The vessel was scuttled at an early period of the day, so that 19ft of the hold was enveloped in water, while 9ft remained exposed to the flames. There is no clue to the origin of the fire, beyond the supposition of spontaneous combustion.

The insurance’s effected upon her are, it appears, likely to be a matter of some dispute, though the owners believe that the time policies opened upon her when she sailed from Calcutta had not legally expired when the disaster took place.

The following letter on the subject, Mr CHAPMAN, the Liverpool agent for Lloyd’s to the secretary of the establishment, in London, was posted in the Underwriters rooms on Friday :-

“Liverpool, 22nd April, 1858.

Sir – By the telegram the total destruction of the JAMES BAINES, would reach Lloyd’s. The origin of the fire is only surmised to have arisen from spontaneous combustion, “Twixt decks were all discharged yesterday, and the lower hatches taken off in the presence of the surveyors, no damage of any kind being perceptible. I understand the remainder of the cargo consisted of rice, seed and jute; and if the fire was smothering the admission of air may account for it bursting out.

The ship was scuttled, but it was only a 12ft tide, hence it was useless, as there was not much more water in the dock than that the ship drew. It is reported that the time policy on the ship was cancelled on the 19th instant.

Scarcely any Ship owners insure from fire in the Liverpool docks, experience showing that the risk has never been considered worth guarding against. The premium at 6d, per cent, would be considered sufficient, but the stamp duty on the policy is severe. Would not this be a good opportunity for the Underwriters and Ship owners to memorialise the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reduce the stamp duty on fire policies on shipping to, 6d per cent, per annum, instead of 3s? A revenue would be obtained which does not exist and would be an encouragement to insure.

It strikes me the question has never been sufficiently considered, although I have often suggested it to ship owners, and advocated a Marine Fire Insurance Company, but the obstacle was the stamp duty.

With the Rivington Pike water and proper appliances at the dock quay’s tons of water could be poured into a ship. In this instance the scuttling with only a 12ft tide did injury, as when she grounded the water pumped into her ran out.

The Dock Authorities should be compelled, in the bill now before, parliament, to provide complete water pipes for extinguishing fires along the dock quays. The opportunity afforded of the introduction of such a clause would be completely justified by the present calamity, if brought under the notice of the Board of Trade.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant, H. C. CHAPMAN, Agent for Lloyd’s. To Captain G. A. HALSTEAD, Secretary at Lloyd’s

S. V. May 6th 1858

The insurance on the JAMES BAINES

We believe it is rather premature to say that all doubts with respect to the question of liability is at rest, although there is reason to believe that this will be the case. One of the Liverpool Underwriters has acknowledged his liability, the amount for which the owners had insured with him being, £7,000, and similar acknowledgements have been received from one or two individual Underwriters in London. The Huskisson Dock will be run dry in the next few days, when the extent of the damage sustained will be ascertained.


Copyright 2002 / To date