A View of the Hulks, at Woolwich in Kent, with some of the Convicts heaving up Ballast, and others on Show wheeling it to the Places where the Embankments are made by them. THAMES HULKS.

A View of the Hulks, at Woolwich in Kent, with some of the Convicts heaving up Ballast, and others on Show wheeling it to the Places where the Embankments are made by them.

London: Printed & Sold by Carington Bowles, Published as the Act directs, 24 June 1779.

Handcoloured engraving, 360 x 505 mm. in fine original condition, mounted and framed.

Convict Hulks on the Thames

Earliest issue of this fascinating depiction with vibrant contemporary handcolouring of convicts from the hulks labouring on the dockyards at Woolwich on the river Thames.

Earliest issue of this fascinating depiction with vibrant contemporary handcolouring of convicts from the hulks labouring on the dockyards at Woolwich on the river Thames.
The use of derelict ships as floating prisons really began with the loss of the American colonies following the War of Independence. The hulks were unpopular, but as this image vividly shows, they were considered a source of useful prison labour: a description of Woolwich in 1785 by Duncan Campbell, a contractor and overseer of the hulks, corresponds to this scene, with particular notice of convicts raising gravel for ballast and construction, sawing timber and constructing earthworks and embankments. The departure of the First Fleet under Captain Arthur Philip and the foundation of a penal colony in New South Wales in 1788 was largely motivated by chronic overcrowding of the Thames hulks, but actually did little to alleviate conditions; indeed, it has been established that around the time that the Fleet sailed 'the hulk establishments at Portsmouth and Woolwich were expanded because of the demand for labour in the dockyards' (A.G.L. Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, p. 49).
This is an example of the earliest and rare issue "Printed for & Sold by Carington Bowles, at his Map and Print Warehouse, No. 69 in St. Pauls Church Yard, London"and "Published as the Act directs, 24 June, 1779". This can be compared with later examples in both the State Library of New South Wales and the National Library, which have a different caption and imprint for "Bowles & Carver" at the same address. Carington Bowles was a print and mapseller principally associated with the sale of local travelling maps and town guides. He died in 1793 and after his death the business passed to his son Henry Carington Bowles who is known to have gone into business with Samuel Carver in the premises at St. Pauls.

Price (AUD): $9,500.00  other currencies     Ref: #4504689

Condition Report