Radical MP. Born in Bristol, a congregationalist, Plimsoll was successively a solicitor's clerk, manager of a brewery, and honorary secretary for the Great Exhibition of 1851. In 1853 he became a coal merchant in London, gaining an extensive knowledge of coastal shipping. Elected to Parliament for Derby in 1868, he proposed a compulsory load line to prevent overloading and obtained a royal commission in 1873. His anger at the greed of shipowners who resisted his plans led to his temporary exclusion from the Commons in 1875, but his persistence was rewarded with the Merchant Shipping Act of 1876 and the load line soon came to bear his name.
Subjects: British History.