Thousands see Charlotte launch

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On this day in 1825 tens of thousands of people from all over the country gathered to watch HMS Princess Charlotte being launch in Portsmouth Dockyard.

But the launch caused a massive surge of water which swept away a bridge drowning 16 people, most of them children.

The Hampshire Telegraph reported: ‘Immediately a dreadful crash was heard and a scream from the persons precipitated into the water; at the same instant a tremendous rush of water issued into the dock...a stupendous wave, bearing on its surface many of the struggling sufferers, mingled with large fragments of broken timber, all of which was dashed with inconceivable fury against the farther end of the dock...carrying in the tremendous conflict the bodies of the sufferers, large pieces of timber, cloaks, hats and clothes of the unfortunate victims...’ – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.

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