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Death Ships - The Story of Six Very Big Ships

Having now secured a contract with a publisher my latest manuscript should become a book in the New Year. The book features six magnificent big North American built ships: Shackamaxon, Bourneuf, Marco Polo, Beejapore, Wanata and Ticonderoga.

Wonderful looking ships that were greatly admired by the public. When in port they attracted a considerable amount of attention because of their size and beauty. However they they were also part of a sad chapter in Australian emigration history.

My book explores the nineteenth-century emigration process, the port of Liverpool where these ships were based, the many diseases of the Victorian era that were so readily spread in confined conditions, the discovery of gold in Australia which had a profound impact on the colonies and was instrumental in generating a demand by the colonies for more emigrants to replace those that had left their jobs and moved to the goldfields. Because so many people had moved to the goldfields industry and commercial activities came to a halt. A sense of panic ensued and the authorities in Britain were under enormous pressure to locate replacement labour and to transport it to the colonies as quickly as possible.

Ships to transport the new emigrants were almost impossible to find because ship owners were making more money transporting paying gold seekers to the colonies. Enter the six big North American vessels. They were available, they were big and so could accommodate lots of emigrants and they were fast. Hence they appeared ideal and certainly solved a major problem for those with responsibility for getting the emigrants to the colonies.

My book looks at the story of each of the vessels from construction to demise, including the passage that each one made in 1852 and any subsequent trips to the colonies.

We are currently looking at design ideas for the cover which is an important part of the publication process. I know that a number of people are interested in one or more of theses ships and are keen to get a copy of the book. Hopefully this can happen early in the New Year. I will provide updates on my website, my Facebook page (Historian Doug Limbrick) and on Twitter.

The Marco Polo.


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