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 Lifesaving devices 
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Post Lifesaving devices
...I know we have touched on Manby and his rockets but I wondered if a separate thread would be appropriate for the inclusion of others.

I was hunting around and came across the breeches buoy. The information mentions Manby.

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Tue Sep 11, 2007 2:57 pm
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... a bit lengthy, I'm afraid, but I found this passage from The Times, August 31, 1804, so interesting:


" .... a spectacle was presented on Wednesday morning on the Thames, which for its singularity exceeds any thing we recollect in the long catalogue of aquatic experiments. .... Seven persons, provided with a species of copper waistcoat, were seen floating down the River erect, between the bridges of Westminster and Blackfriars, giving a salute from small arms at each other, like so many little floating batteries.

These copper waistcoats are strapped close round the neck and waist, and by enlarging the surface of the body presented to the water, on the most obvious principles of gravity applicable to fluids, sustained the wearer; with the assistance of this curious machinery he may float up and down the river during the flux and reflux of the tide, without the smallest danger, and without any disagreeable pressure from the apparatus; the only disadvantage he will suffer, must arise from being exposed to a new element, considerably colder than that to which he is accustomed.

These waistcoats are hollow, they project six or eight inches from the body above the waist; and they are so contrived, by being provided with distinct compartments, that if an aperture were accidentally made to admit the water, not more than a pint would be received, which would occasion no danger, as the machines are competent to sustain the weight of two or three persons......."



For further reading about the life jacket .......

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Mon Oct 15, 2007 2:02 pm
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From The Times of October 8, 1817:

" ..... Mr THOMAS COOK, Admiralty midshipman of the Rochefort, has invented a life-buoy, for the preservation of seamen who may happen to fall overboard at sea during the night. It is so constructed as to contain a quantity of unextinguishable matter, which, on letting go the buoy from the stern of the ship, is set fire to, and continues to burn for a considerable time above the surface of the water, thereby pointing out to the person overboard a place of safety until further assistance can be sent to him. Trial was made of it alongside the Rochefort, on Wednesday last, in the presence of Admiral Sir Edward Thorborough, KCB, Captains Sir Archibald Dickson, Carteret, Boger, and Falcon, when it represented to have answered the purpose intended extremely well......"


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Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:46 am
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From The Times, December 17, 1800:

".... Thursday, at one o'clock, Lunardi repeated an experiment he has often made on the Thames, to ascertain the merits of a machine to save persons from drowning. The machine is in the form of a canoe; but very small, and is fastened round the trunk of the body by an easy and expeditious contrivance. It is formed to carry a little provision, or as to serve as a trunk for clothes, when not used in difficulties.

Lunardi, accoutred wth this machine, and covered with oil-skin for decorum, plunged into the Thames at Battersea Bridge. The boats were so numerous around him, that if Lord Dunmore had not taken upon him the part of Admiral, the experiment would have been frustrated, and every thing ended in confusion.

The superiority of the machine to the cork jacket seems to us to arise principally from its convex bottom, by means of which, the person relying on it is always preserved with his head upwards. In the use of the jacket, if by accident or violence the head is turned downward, the jacket . ....."



Vincent Lunardi, Italian aeronaut and balloonist, 1787


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Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:45 am
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"The chief attempts [at life preserving devices] of earlier date were by means of corks and air-tubes, attached in some way to the person. One of the oddest novelties was an air-hat: the hat was so made that air could be blown into a space behind the lining; and such buoyancy was hence attained, that, according to the inventor's account, a man might be supported by clinging to the hat in the water. Messrs Macintosh have introduced a life-cloak or cape, made of waterproof cloth, and capable, by blowing air through a stop-cock into a vacancy formed by a double thickness of cloth, of supporting a man by its buoyancy. Mr Reece, in 1843, contrived an inflated pad or cushion of India-rubber, so attached to the back, that the wearer might float with his face uppermost.... Those who remember Class 8 at the Great Exhibition of 1851, will call to mind the strange compound of oddities and utilities among the life-preserving apparatus. There was Mr Clayton's 'swimming glove,' designed and formed on the model of the web-foot; there were Mr Light's 'ladies' and gentlemen's yachting-jackets,' to support the body in case of accidental immersion; there was Mr Reeks' nautical cap, which can be immediately converted into a safety swimming-belt; there was Mr Vicker's life-belt, made of sail-canvas, stuffed with cork cuttings, and forming a comfortable cubical seat when on shipboard; there was Mr Hely's life-girdle composed of spherical floats strung upon an endless elastic band; there were Mr Carte's 'self-adjusting' cork life-belt and Mr Laurie's 'self-inflating' life-float; there was Mr Caulcher's life-preserving elastic cork-jacket, 'capable of being worn unobserved under a coat or a mantle;' there was Lieutenant Halkett's multum in parvo, which is a boat-cloak when uninflated, a cloak-boat when inflated, and a bed if you choose to employ it as such; there was Mr Walker's hat-case 'answering the purpose of a safety life-buoy float, or as a foot-bath, and many other useful purposes;' and there were Mr Cox's 'swimming-stockings, and safety swimming-swan to assist persons in escaping from shipwreck!'"

From: Chambers's Repository of Instructive and Amusing Tracts (1854) Volume IX

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Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:42 am
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I mentioned William Rodger in the thread about anchors.

Looking at his bio in O'Byrne, it seems he had a knack for inventing things. He received a gold medal from the Society for the Encouragement of Arts for a life raft. Does anyone know any details about this? Was it meant to be deployed from ships?

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Thu Dec 24, 2009 6:49 am
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Post Re: Lifesaving devices
Here's a link to an interesting article in Naval History magazine:
Weird & Wacky—The Lighter Side of Lifesaving

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Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:31 pm
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