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So sad a disaster ne'er has been told,
As that which I now have just to unfold;
The Thames was the scene of this dreadful sight,
Where hundreds were drowning, for dear life did fight,
So appalling her tale the papers they tell,
Of six hundred souls who from life have now fell;
May god in his mercy look down I pray,
On the poor creatures who died in so fearful a way

Chorus:  Six hundred poor souls whom no one could save,
                  Died in the depths of the Thames, a watery grave;
                  While those who were saved had all caused to mourn,
                  The loss of the dear ones who are dead and gone.

The history of this sad tale I'll relate,
Showing how dreadful this unlooked for fate;
A vessel, the Princess Alice by name,
A large saloon steamer, and well known to fame,
On her return journey from Southend¹ and Sheerness¹,
Was run into and sunk in five minutes or less,
Buy a large iron screw collier¹, Bywell Castle, they say,
That was going down the river that fatal day.

'Twas on Tuesday evening, September the third,
From Rotherhithe¹ pier the Princess Alice steer'd
All hearts were light on that fatal day,
Not a thought of danger on the way.
About eight o'clock on that fatal night,
With a fearful crash all was affright,
Run down were they just off Essex shore,
Hundreds sunk in the deep to rise no more.

The captain was seen at his post on the deck,
Directly before this calamitous wreck,
Shouting directions his vessel to save,
But alas! All is ended in a watery grave.
Excitement is raging in Woolwich¹, they say
Where scores of the bodies lie in terrible array, [Note 734.1]
May god help all those who suffered such pain,
And may we ne'er have such another disaster again.

Can anyone fancy so dreadful a scene,
Hundreds of people in agony seen,
No one to save them so close to home,
Shrieking for help, nothing can be done.
Fathers, mothers, and children, on a holiday trip,
Have enjoyed themselves - the day they've made slip
Homeward on board this vessel they came
Only to suffer, poor souls, both grief and pain

 

Sources (texts, music) & Publishing data

Origin Broadside
Source Title A copy of the verses on the loss of the Princess Alice saloon steamer with 600 souls on board on Tuesday, Sept, 3rd 1878, on the River Thames, near Woolwich Arsenal.
Bargery Number 734
Roud V4185
Earliest Date 1878
Evidence for Earliest Date Date of the event described
Latest Date 1878
Evidence for Latest Date The practice of Broadside printers was to publish songs as soon after the event as possible.
Source of Text Bodleian Library, Harding B 13(245)
Music (Given or Suggested) No tune given
Printer or Publisher Forty
Where Printed London
Other Imprints No other imprints found

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