The Steamboat, Safety and the State: Government Reaction to New Technology in a Period of Laissez-Faire

By J. Armstrong and D.M. Williams., published May 2003


The first commercial steam service was introduced in 1812, but the industry remained unregulated for many years. The introduction of this new technology brought opportunity and revenue, coupled with risks associated with new factors other the perils of the sea. Accidents with steam vessels could include violent explosion hence they were novel and became of public interest and concern. Despite the growing swell of petitions, media attention and Select Committees, the safety of individuals at sea was not seen to be of Government concern until the risks to fare paying passengers gained prominence. The introduction of the Steam Navigation Act 1846 was instrumental in providing legislation for operations at sea as well as providing an independent structure of safety surveys and inspections of machinery.

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Filed under: Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Administration | Manpower & Life at Sea | Ocean Liners & Passenger Craft

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