25 February 2011 by Sarah Starkey
Lorna, Assistant Librarian at the Maritime Archives & Library, has been cataloguing our collection of Lloyd’s Weekly Casualty Reports, which are useful sources of information for shipwrecks and other maritime mishaps. We can tell something is up because she keeps laughing and reading bits out. While the early Casualty Reports, ours start in 1890, are a fairly straightforward list of ships that have been wrecked, burnt or otherwise damaged, in later years they become more widespread in their tales of woe including, in September 1977, entries regarding a fire in a glove factory in Aberdeen and the kidnapping of a stamp collectors’ daughter in Italy. The editors appears to have become rather ghoulish. However, the thing to remember when using Lloyd’s records, which include many of the great sources for maritime research, is that it’s all about insurance, not about collecting information for ship enthusiasts or family historians. If you had just been asked to underwrite a glove makers you would need to know that there had been a serious fire in no less than the ‘largest manufacturers of knitted gloves in the western hemisphere’ and if you’re setting rates for life insurance, kidnappings are important. All that being said, I do have a suspicion that their correspondents were having a competition to see which is the daftest thing they can get published – for example a reported ‘near riot’ on 4th September 1977 at a music festival in West Germany caused by the ‘absence of some well-known groups’. 1970s German rock music, I think I’d have rioted.
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