J.M.W. Turner's "The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up," 1838.

Bruce Rosen at Victorian History has a fascinating post about the Hulks, the old navy ships used as floating jails in nineteenth-century Britain.  (The hulks also inspired the name of our blog!). Rosen includes a great image of the interior of a hulk and links to Adventures of a Guardsmen, the memoir of Charles Cozen who was a military prisoner on one of the Hulks.

Additional links:

-There are more images of “Prison Ships on the River Thames” on the Port Cities London website.

– The Temeraire, depicted above by Turner, was used as a prison ship after serving in the Battle of Trafalgar

“Hulks” on Lee Jackson’s Victorian London site

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One thought on “The Hulks on the Victorian History blog: “‘hell upon earth'”

  1. Thanks for this, Jen. I’m completely fascinated by these spaces of provisional permanence, and how eerie the resemblances are between the hulks and the various modes of containing displaced people that exist today.

    I’m also really interested in the connection between the rise of prison ships and the emergent surplus of “superannuated” ships produced by the various wars of the late-18th/early-19th centuries (detailed in the BU site you linked to above). That the problem of where to put “unwanted” English citizens was both created and solved by different aspects of the American Revolutionary war, for example, really emphasized the extent to which incarceration (then and now) is based upon a logic of convenience.

    Some of the re-christenings of the ships to mark their new roles as hulks are amazing (again, from the BU site): the HMS Monmouth becomes the HMS Captivity, the Edgar becomes the Retribution, the Jacobs becomes the Surprise, the Howe becomes the Dromedary…wait, what?

    (I would also like to point out that the HMS Canada remains the HMS Canada in its life as a hulk…)

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