Southend Timeline

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6th March 1665: HMS London lost: The 17th Century warship HMS London was a 64-gun second-rate ship of the line. 

She was constructed at Chatham, Kent and launched in 1654.

HMS London was to become the flagship of Admiral Sir John Lawson and took part in the latter stages of the First Dutch War (1652-1654).

Upon the death of Oliver Cromwell in 3rd September 1658 HMS London formed part of the Royal Navy Squadron that was tasked with escorting the exiled King Charles 2nd from the Netherlands to undertake the restoration of the monarchy.

HMS London exploded whilst moored a mile from the site that is now Southend Pier, the loss of the ship claimed 300 lives, however 24 people survived including one woman, it was common at the time for wives to go on board ships when they were in home waters. The loss of the ship was put down to a sailor taking a candle below-ships, accidently setting off an explosion within the powder magazine.

The wreck of the HMS London is classed as “Highly Significant” so much so that the Port of London Authority ordered the shipping channel be moved to protect any disturbance of the wreck, it has also been registered as a “Protected Wreck” forbidding anyone diving the site without permission.

Class & type: 64-gun second-rate ship of the line
Tons burthen: 1,104 long tons (1,121.7 t)
Length: 123 ft 4 in (37.6 m) (keel)
Beam: 41 ft (12.5 m) (after girdling)
Depth of hold: 16 ft 6 in (5.0 m)
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Armament: 64 guns of various weights of shot


The Bubonic Plague - This year proved difficult in London and the regions with the spread of the Bubonic Plague.  A 'plague pit' was dug in Sutton, but it does appear Southend escaped relatively unscathed.  The only notable casualty was the annual fair at Prittlewell cancelled as a precaution.

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