Sunday, 12 December 2010

From the archives: tigers in Deptford

Something a little wild this week!

Deptford has a long history of tigers. The first was a 200-ton ship, built in the town in 1546, which would later pursue the Spanish Armada. Another Tyger was also built here in 1647; the 38-gun ship besieged Colchester during the Civil War, followed Admiral Blake in 1650, and took an active part in the Second Dutch War. Rebuilt four times, it eventually foundered off Tortuga in the Caribbean in 1743; the crew not only fought off the Spanish for 56 days before they escaped in small boats over 700 miles to Jamaica, but even managed to take 20 of the ship's guns with them.

However, there have also been more literal big cats in Deptford. On 11 June 1732, the newspapers reported an unusual - and unwelcome - visitor to the docks:
Yesterday 7-Night, a Tyger at Deptford, on board the Cadogan, from the East Indies, broke his Chain, which obliged most of the Sailors on Board to get out of his Way, the Boys being on Shoar that used to feed him. He jump’d from Ship to Ship and cleared all before him, till a Sawyer belonging to the King’s Yard knocked him down with a Handspike, and killed him on the Spot.

Another sad end to a long journey.

Image by ktpupp on flickr, shared under a Creative Commons licence.

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