Saving the Cargo

“From those beginnings in a coffee house in 1688, Lloyd’s has been a pioneer in insurance and has grown over 325 years to become the world’s leading market for specialist insurance. On the following pages you can learn about Lloyd’s unique and colourful past, from its early days in Edward Lloyd’s coffee house, to the historical events that changed the face of Lloyd’s forever.” Lloyd’s of London

Lloyd’s of London today

Lloyd’s the insurance company originated in a 17th Century London coffee shop, run by Edward Lloyd trading where the merchant navy traded. The demand for insuring expensive cargo increasingly became a necessity. In Victorian times the business transporting goods around the world grew and practically every ship in the British Isles was insured with them. Edward Weddall as a captain in the merchant navy was covered by the company.

One incident in 1881 when he was at the hull of Cohanim, under his command spared the company a big insurance payout on the cargo worth 250,000 dollars (5.5 million in today’s currency). His quick thinking and ability to influence his crew to follow through to the bitter end paid off. The article taken from The Shipping News; “The crew repairing a broken crank shaft in the Atlantic.”

His crew worked for four days and nights to repair the crank shaft, which got broken in a storm, which they did against pretty much all odds. The brave bunch saved the cargo and were rewarded 200 dollars (almost 5,000 today) by the insurance company.

The Shipping News


We see it is stated in a New York contemporary that the New York Board of Trade of Underwriters have awarded the officers of the Cohanim 200 dollars in testimony of their courage and skill during a recent storm. Late in October last the screw-steamer Cohanim belonging to Newcastle, sailed from Gibraltar for New York with a cargo of dried fruits and almonds form the Mediterranean valued at about 250,000 dollars. When she was seven days at sea a severe hurricane broke the crank shaft and left her the mercy the waves about miles west of Madeira, the nearest port. Captain Weddall ordered the crew to set all sail and keep the vessel hauled to the wind. So furious was the tempest that the vessel must have foundered but for the captain’s skill in managing her. The engineers had no tools with which to repair the broken shaft, but the were ordered to get to and make them. by working hared a large drill was finished in a few hours, but it was found to be needless without a large brace and the only one on board was a small one, the sailors made a new socket for the brace. Then with the ship tossing about like a cork, the seamen began to bore a hole 3 1/2 in diameter through 28 inches of solid iron. For four days and nights they stuck to their task, each man working as long as he could, and then being relieved by another until the core of the shaft was neatly drilled out. then an iron stanchion was cut away from the hold and rude bolt was made out of it. The bolt was driven through the shaft and clenched on both ends, thus securing the fractured part sufficiently to carry the steamship to Madeira in six days by running slowly and keeping the ship under full canvas. from Madeira world of the accident was sent to England, and after a few days Captain Wendall received a new shaft from Hull. Then the vessel proceeded on her way to New York in safety. the owners of the cargo testified their admiration of the feat by making every man a handsome present.

26 January 1881 – Shields Daily Gazette – South Shields, Tyne and Wear, England