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Loss of the East Indiaman 'Kent', 1 March 1825: catching fire

Fine art

Object connections:

Collection Fine art, Oil paintings
Gallery locationNot on display
VesselsKent 1820

Object details:

Object ID BHC2272
Description One of a pair of paintings, showing the East Indiaman ‘Kent’ catching fire on 1 March 1825, see also BHC2273. The ship was owned by Stewart Marjoribanks and came into service with the East India Company in 1820. It undertook two voyages for the Company to Bengal, Bombay and China before disaster struck in 1825. Commanded by Henry Cobb, the 'Kent' sailed from the Downs on 19 February 1825 for a third voyage to Bengal and China. However, on 1 March 1825 in the Bay of Biscay, following two days of storms, the ship caught fire, reportedly from an accident with a naked light by malefactors attempting to steal liquor from her hold. The 'Kent' was carrying some 700 people, mainly soldiers of the 31st regiment and their families, when the fire broke out. Efforts were made to extinguish the flames by scuttling the lower ports to flood the hold, but fearing the vessel would sink the ports had to be shut. A sailor sent aloft reported another vessel nearby and an elaborate rescue effort commenced. In mountainous seas the ship’s boats were used to ferry passengers and crew to the brig 'Cambrian', captained by Captain Cooke and bound for Vera Cruz carrying Cornish miners. Having saved the majority of the ships complement the overcrowded brig made for Falmouth and after two days and three nights arrived safely. However a number of those saved from the 'Kent' perished during the journey, including a substantial number of children. The National Maritime Museum holds a further painting, see BHC3819, and a group of manuscript records related to the event, MCG/1-7. The painting is signed and dated 1826.
Date made 1826

Artist/Maker Luny, Thomas
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Frame: 614 mm x 794 mm x 72 mm;Painting: 533 mm x 685 mm
  • Loss of the East Indiaman 'Kent', 1 March 1825: catching fire (BHC2272)
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