Plymouth Emigration, Further Reading

Plymouth, between 1815 and 1914, over 430,000 people left as emigrants, most of them via this Wharf.

Plymouth Paintings
Emigration Plymouth Depot / Hostel
76 x 121 cm (30″ x 48″) available for £ 10,775
This painting is a painting representing a story of Plymouth that Plymouth citizens can all be justifiably proud of.
This is the  only painting detailed this significant part of the Plymouth emigration history.
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This page is your guide to more fully understand and appreciate this painting, profit, enjoy, buy a print.

Plymouth Emigration is available as a fine PRINT on canvas for the look and feel or the original.

Print number one was bought by the Authoress Nicolette Jones who wrote ‘The Plimsol Sensation’ which won the Mountbatten Prize; ISBN 978 0 347 11720 1.

Many distinguished people and renowned companies have chosen Gordon Frickers paintings as you can discover by reading my illustrated résumée.

Of Mr. Samuel Plimsol it is no exaggeration to say seamen world wide today still benefit from Samuel Plimsoll’s lifelong campaign for sailor’s rights.

This painting Plymouth Emigration was one of my 35 chosen for exhibition at the European Parliament, Brussels and described as having “an aura beyond time as normally perceived”.

You are guaranteed good value buying from a dedicated artist so buy from a reputable, dedicated, established artist direct from my studio.

Samuel Plimsol is a renowned and admired name rightly coupled with the famous port of Plymouth with its honourable and yet forgotten history of emigration.
Some paintings will always have a value, this is one of them.
insert a Basic map of Plymouth Sound.

Page Contents.

Emigration Plymouth, some background.

The painting develops

Plymouth Sound packet boats.

The citizens of Plymouth

Emigration and the Plymouth Depot

“Samuel Plimsoll” the ship.

The Cattewater

Contact Frickers paintings and prints

Emigration Plymouth, some background.

Emigration, Plymouth is meticulously researched and set in the year 1881.

Emigration and inspiration

A warm Autumn full moon is rising over ancient Mount Batten and distinctive Martello Tower.

I have often admired the way Jenny Cliff and Plymouth Sound glow with mysterious moon shadows as a full moon rises.

Could this be painted and if so where when and how?

I used to race dinghies and teach children sailing on The Cattewater of Plymouth Sound when I had a family and The Cattewater was where I moored my yacht “Music Maker”.

I was aware that very many famous voyages began at Plymouth so how many lives were reborn at the time when Plymouth had the best organised emigration depot in Britain?

Plymouth photographs
Plymouth Phoenix Wharf.

I thought I knew this location intimately.

Little did I realise just how much history I was standing when on Phoenix Wharf, on and looking at … or how many souls had emigrated via Plymouth.

Plymouth has a long and rich history

I was ware that very many famous voyages began there, how many lives were reborn at the time when Plymouth had the best organised emigration depot in Britain?

I discovered the lost story of the emigration depot.

Better still a famous clipper named after a rightly, very famous man, sailed regularly for the government emigration service, the ‘crack’ clipper ship ‘Samuel Plimsol‘.

It is no exaggeration to say seamen world wide today still benefit from Mr. Samuel Plimsoll’s lifelong campaign for sailor’s rights.

An idea emerged for a rich and historical, accurate as modern research can make possible, painting to detail, migrants and their baggage departing, while the harbour master’s black cat, a tiny detail,  looks on…

The painting develops

For artistic and maritime reasons mentioned above I particularly wanted to show a ship moored off ‘Fisher’s Nose’.

A ship ready to put to sea, hers sails loose, anchor hove short, awaiting the end of the flood tide, loading the last of her passengers via boats from the emigration quays. As fortune would have it I soon discovered one of the most illustrious of clippers was a regular visitor for 17 years.

This famous clipper is one of the fastest ever built.

Her lines are very similar to the Cutty Sark.

I was fortunate to find several photographs of her, unfortunately the quality is less than brilliant, fortunate in that I have a large drawing of the rig of the Cutty Sark so I have based the Samuel Plimsol’ rigging on her famous rival Cutty Sark.

Samuel Plimsol’s colour scheme would have been typical of her company colours including the green hull, a scheme she shared with such famous ships as her running mate the Thermopylae‘.

Emigration Plymouth, some background.

Emigration, Plymouth is diligently researched and set in the year 1881.

During the 19 th century Plymouth operated the most modern most humane emigration depot in Great Britain.

One does not have to be an art critic to instinctively feel the painting has a complete understanding of the nucleus of the moment.

Maritime paintings, clipper ships
Emigration Plymouth a detail

This is the port of Plymouth painting, 76 x 121 cm (30″ x 48″) is available.

This painting is a painting representing a story of Plymouth that Plymouth citizens can all be justifiably proud of.

One does not have to be an art critic to instinctively feel the painting has a complete understanding of the nucleus of the moment.

During the 19 th century Plymouth operated the most modern most humane emigration depot in Great Britain.

At least as far back as the famous ‘Mayflower’ voyage (1620), Plymouth citizens played a central and generous role in assisting tens of thousands of migrants.

Mayflower paintings
Mayflower at Plymouth, available.

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or by arrangement with Gordon Frickers, in instalments.

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Frickers paintings have been exhibited at many venues in Britain and Europe including by invitation a one man show in the European Parliament.

The painting develops

I thought I knew this location intimately.

Through this painting I was to discover much more.

Could this be painted and if so where when and how?

Little did I realise when standing when on Phoenix Wharf, how many souls had emigrated via Plymouth.

Plymouth Sound packet boats.

Page under reconstruction 13.12.23

The citizens of Plymouth

Emigration and the Plymouth Depot

Samuel Plimsoll the ship 

Plymouth Paintings

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Samuel Plimsol
Plymouth, Emigration, a detail, Samuel Plimsol.

Samuel Plimsoll was built for speed as an iron hull composite clipper in 1873 at Aberdeen by W. Hood & Co, for the Aberdeen White Star line.

W. Hood & Co, built the Samuel Plimsol with hull lines very similar to those of the  Cutty Sark which famous ship is now preserved, open to the public at Greenwich, London.

Samuel Plimsoll was a first quality clipper ship with the characteristic green hulled of the Aberdeen White Star Line.

Samuel Plimsoll sailed regularly under a government contract from Plymouth to the Antipodes and out bound was specially fitted for emigration with suitable cabins installed, complete with a doctor.

Samuel Plimsoll” is to be noted for her record runs annually from Plymouth to Australia in a little as 68 days, returning to London, England racing such famous clipper ships as the Cutty Sark, the Thermopylae, Caliph and proving herself a very fast ship.

Samuel Plimsol was christened and launched in the presence of Mister Samuel Plimsoll MP in who’s honour she was named, by Mrs. Boaden, wife of her first commander, Captain Boaden.

Samuel Plimsol’s first voyage took 180 souls from Plymouth on 19 November 1873 arriving at Sydney in the very smart time of 68 days.

She eventually made 17 voyages with emigrants, returning with wool, always sailed hard, this was not yachting.

Samuel Plimsol was a well maintained ship so her 29 year career was distinguished  although as I’ll recount here, not entirely trouble free.

Maritime paintings, clipper ships
Emigration Plymouth a detail

Accidents :

During her career under the Aberdeen house-flag, the Samuel Plimsoll suffered two mishaps one of which produced an amusing story, an event happily free from casualties.

On the occasion of this her best known mishap, a tropical squall in the South Atlantic carried away her bob stay then down came the fore-topmast and main top gallant mast.

Samuel Plimsoll was in distress.

It happened that a Yankee clipper was in company.

This vessel beat up to the dismantled Samuel Plimsoll and sent a boat off with a message that she too was bound for Australia and would gladly tran-ship the passengers and carry them on to their destination.

This offer, Captain Simpson, then commanding the Samuel Plimsoll, declined with thanks, so the American went on her way.

In the remarkably short time of a long day of hard work the Aberdeen flyer had fresh masts aloft.

Then the Samuel Plimsoll settled down to make up the lost time.

Nobly the Samuel Plimsoll made her time.

One week’s work in the ‘Roaring Forties’ totalling 2300 miles, and she eventually arrived in Melbourne, 82 days out.

Some days later the Yankee arrived and her captain at once went to the Samuel Plimsoll’s agents and reported speaking to the dis-masted Samuel Plimsol in the Atlantic.

At the same time he commented on her captain’s foolhardiness in not trans-shipping his passengers.

Is it the Captain Simpson sitting over there you are referring to?” asked the agent.

Extracted, edited from THE COLONIAL CLIPPERS by Basil Lubbock, Page 242

Mr. Samuel Plimsoll and the Plimsoll Line 

It is no exaggeration to claim that seamen world wide today still benefit from Mr. Samuel Plimsoll’s lifelong campaign for sailor’s rights.

At a time when literally some 5 thousand families per year where being made fatherless because ships were being overloaded so lost in storms, Mr. Samuel Plimsoll became a renowned campaigner for sailor’s rights and safety at sea.

Mr. Plimsol was an ardent campaigner for sailor’s rights, innovator of the ‘Plimsoll Line’, a mark protecting seamen, which today appears on the ships of 164 countries world wide.

Samuel Plimsoll literally has made his mark, a great achievement, a truly great legacy.

There is an excellent award winning book on this subject, ‘The Plimsoll Sensation’ by Nicolette Jones, ISBN 978 0 349 11720 1.

I’m delighted to be able to report Nicolette Jones bought a signed numbered print of this painting.

Ask for details for your copy or visit my web site page Marine Art Prints https://frickers.co.uk/art/new-marine-print-gallery/

drawing of Plymouth Emigration depot
An early drawing of Plymouth Emigration depot

Plymouth has a long and rich history

As I researched much assisted by the enthusiastic Plymothian the late Bob Brennan, I discovered the forgotten story of the emigration depot.

Better still I discovered a famous clipper named after a rightly, very famous man, sailed regularly for the government emigration service from Plymouth, the ‘crack’ clipper ship ‘Samuel Plimsol‘. 

It is no exaggeration to say seamen world wide today still benefit from Mr. Samuel Plimsoll’s lifelong campaign for sailor’s rights.

“The sailor’s friend” Mr. Plimsol’s load line mark, ‘the Plimsol Line’, can today be found on the ships of 140 countries preventing overloading which used to be a common cause of ships being lost at sea.

As I looked over the site and it’s history an idea emerged for an historical, accurate as modern research can make possible, rich in painting detail, migrants and their baggage departing, all this while as a tiny detail the harbour master’s black cat looks on…

Emigration depot at Plymouth
Emigration depot at Plymouth 1934

Where to start?

Plymouth is already famous as the departure point of THE Mayflower with the Pilgrim Fathers.

The port of Plymouth is known to have been frequented by pre roman ships of Phoenicia, The Phoenicians left anchors in the Cattewater, they used the beach in the lee of Mount Batten to trade for a precious metal mined in Devon and Cornwall, especially tin.

Many a famous voyage commenced at Plymouth, Francis Drake sailed from Plymouth to become the first captain [second ship but captain Magellan died] to complete a circumnavigation of this planet.

He discovered among other things that South America was not attached to another continent;

Drake’s Passage is still the name for the waters off stormy Cape Horn.

Captain James Cook, Admiral Horatio Nelson, Charles Darwin, are the names of just a few of the distinguished others who navigated from Plymouth.

By the 19th century Plymouth had became the 3rd busiest British point of departure.

Here with this fine painting we see the Samuel Plimsol under government contract, having been specially converted when outbound for emigrants including with cabins and a surgeon.

The famous ship, the clipper ‘Samuel Plimsollis here moored on one of the most historic pieces of water in Britain, The Plymouth Cattewater, bound Plymouth for Australia.

Her anchor is hove short, sails shaken loose, Samuel Plimsol is in the final stages of taking on board the last of her emigrants and their and bound to sail with the first of the ebb tide.

In the time honoured phrase, “the ship is in all respects ready for sea“.

The Plymouth Cattewater

This is a name strange to lay upon the modern tongue.

For centuries, even long before Plymouth existed, The Cattewater at the mouth of the Plym river was the favoured anchorage in Plymouth Sound being relatively sheltered and close by the settlement that became a Saxon village on the shore of the adjacent Sutton Pool, a name derived from South village pool with its beaches long since transformed into quays, where boats were secure in all weathers.

Very many famous voyages reached or started from Plymouth Cattewater (older spelling Cat Water).

The name ‘Cattewater’ derives from anchors were ‘a cat-head’ or ‘catted’.

In old time wooden sailing ships anchors were as vital as they are today, maybe more so.

Anchors were and are big heavy beasts that if miss handled could seriously damage a ship, maim or kill men.

As ship design developed anchors came to be ‘handled’ via a primitive derrick, solidly fixed as one each side of a vessel just abaft the bow, and aided with a portable ‘Fish Derrick’.

An ancient mariner who must have been bit of a wag, pointed out these look like two cat’s whiskers. The name stuck, has become sea lore, part of the mariner’s language.

Plymouth, Emigration
Plymouth, Emigration, a depot detail

The Plymouth Emigration Depot

The harbour master’s cat’s name was Derrick.

Aside from a geographic advantage and more so with the coming of railways, Plymouth had the most advanced [for the time], most popular, migration depot.

Plymouth Emigration depot,
Plymouth Emigration depot at Plymouth, published in the Sydney Mail, 17.01.1885

The Emigration Depot was demolish in approximately 1935 leaving only one building still  used jointly as The Pier Master’s Office and The Mayflower Sailing Club.

To reconstruct the old depot my principal sources were visits to the location, an aerial photograph of the neglected depot taken soon before demolition and a charming, very informative drawing made by an emigrant and which was published in an Australian newspaper at that time.

Plymouth Emigration
Western Figaro 1884
Plymouth Emigration
Western Figaro 1884, 2
Western Figaro 1884, 3
Western Figaro 4 1884,

Accidents :

During the whole of her career under the Aberdeen house-flag, the only mishap Samuel Plimsoll suffered was the carrying away of a fore topmast : happily this was free from casualties.

This was the case with most of the well maintained Thompson’s green clippers.

On the occasion of this her only mishap a tropical squall carried away the bob stay, and down came the fore-topmast and main top gallant mast.

Samuel Plimsoll was in distress.

It happened that a Yankee clipper was in company.

This vessel beat up to the dismantled Samuel Plimsoll and sent a boat off with a message that she too was bound for Australia and would gladly tran-ship the passengers and carry them on to their destination.

This offer, Captain Simpson, then commanding the Samuel Plimsoll, declined with thanks, so the American went on her way.

In the remarkably short time of a long day of hard work the Aberdeen flyer had fresh masts aloft.

Then the Samuel Plimsoll settled down to make up the lost time.

Nobly the Samuel Plimsoll made her time.

One week’s work in the ‘Roaring Forties’ totalling 2300 miles, and she eventually arrived in Melbourne, 82 days out.

Some days later the Yankee arrived and her captain at once went to the Samuel Plimsoll’s agents and reported speaking to the dis-masted Samuel Plimsol in the Atlantic.

At the same time he commented on her captain’s foolhardiness in not trans-shipping his passengers.

Is it the Captain Simpson sitting over there you are referring to?” asked the agent.

Extracted, edited from THE COLONIAL CLIPPERS by Basil Lubbock, Page 242

Mr. Samuel Plimsoll and the Plimsoll Line :

At a time when literally some 5 thousand families per year where being made fatherless because ships were being overloaded so lost in storms, Mr. Samuel Plimsoll became a renowned campaigner for sailor’s rights and safety at sea.

Seamen world wide today still benefit from Samuel Plimsoll’s lifelong campaign for sailor’s rights.

Mr. Plimsol was an ardent campaigner for sailor’s rights, innovator of the ‘Plimsoll Line’, a mark protecting seamen, which today appears on the ships of 164 countries world wide.

Samuel Plimsoll literally has made his mark, a great achievement, a truly great legacy.

There is an excellent award winning book on the subject The Plimsoll Sensation by Nicolette Jones.

I’m honoured to report Nicolette Jones bought a signed numbered print of this picture.

Ask for details for your copy or visit my web site page Marine Art Prints https://frickers.co.uk/art/new-marine-print-gallery/

The Cattewater :

This is a name strange to lay upon the modern tongue.

For centuries, even long before Plymouth existed, the Cattwater at the mouth of the Plym river was the favoured anchorage in Plymouth Sound.

Very many famous voyages reached or started from Plymouth Cattewater (older spelling Cat Water).

The name ‘Cattewater’ derives from water were anchors were ‘a cat-head’ or ‘catted’.

In old time wooden sailing ships anchors were as vital as they are today, maybe more so.
Anchors were and are big heavy beasts that if miss handled could seriously damage a ship, maim or kill men.

As ship design developed anchors came to be ‘handled’ via a primitive derrick, solidly fixed as one each side of a vessel just abaft the bow, and aided with a portable ‘Fish Derrick’.

Some ancient mariner, bit of a wag, pointed out these are like two cat’s whiskers; the name stuck, has become sea lore, part of the mariner’s language.

Upon the Plymouth Cattewater the Phoneticians, Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Francis Drake, Frobisher, Hawkins, the Mayflower and Pilgrim Fathers, James Cook, Nelson, James Darwin, Sunderland and Catalonia flying boats crewed mostly by Australians, American D Day shipping, solo ocean races and very much more have sailed

From Plymouth sailed voyages that have changed lives and our world beyond measure.

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This painting is now a part of Plymouth’s legacy, being the only accurately detailed representation of this part of Plymouth’s lost history,  researched as diligently, as meticulously as I could manage and including by great good fortune a
Will this painting go to Plymouth?
That remains to be seen !

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Research :

Credit where it is due, my sincerely grateful thanks go to : in particular thanks to the late Bob Brennan, enthusiastic proud Plymouthian, for his tireless research and encouragement.

To David Folley for the use of his facilities, Captain Tim Charlesworth of / and the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners, Ian Criddle of Plymouth Naval Reference Library, Nigel Overton Heritage Officer of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery. 

Further afield, my thanks go to Alan Collie in New Zealand who provided information unknown in Plymouth from the 1884 WESTERN FIGARO newspaper including drawings.

To David Meale who’s ancestor Richard James Stead emigrated in the Samuel Plimsoll and kept a diary which includes a drama, a collision at sea during the voyage; and by no means least, to the Australian National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour in Sydney.

All helped enormously and willingly, giving authority to this magnificent port painting “ Plymouth, Emigration, the Cattewater“.

Gordon Frickers art has been and is the choice of many distinguished people and renowned companies.

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Gordon Frickers © updated 06.02.2024

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