The voyage of the steam paddle ship Princess Alice from Gravesend to North Woolwich on 3 September 1878 ended in tragedy. She sank in the River Thames at Gallions Reach killing hundreds of ordinary Londoners returning home from a day trip to the seaside. This tragedy, now largely forgotten, dominated newspaper headlines and led to fundamental changes to the shipping industry.

No passenger list or headcount was made, so the exact figure of those who died has therefore never been known, but more than 600 people died. It remains the greatest loss of life in any British inland waterway shipping accident.

Many of the passengers from Princess Alice were unable to swim; the long heavy dresses worn by women at that time further hindered their efforts to stay afloat. To add to the misery, the river water was polluted by raw sewage, the untreated output from Beckton Gas Works and several other local chemical factories as well as with oil and petroleum that had entered the river as a result of a fire in Thames Street earlier that day.

This collaboration between Christoper Mike, Painter and Vincenzo Muratore, Sculptor, will explore the stories of this tragic voyage as they seek to make their own record of what remains an important milestone in our community’s local history.

@christo.mike @vincenzomuratoreartist @artinthedocks