Captain Urquhart experimenting with his Life-Preserving Raft on the Thames, [in London] 1858. 'A craft, attracting attention by its singular appearance, has been lately experimented on by the inventor, Captain W. Urquhart, of New York, on the Thames. This new life-preserving apparatus is composed of [nineteen] mattresses connected in such a manner as to form a raft. These mattresses are intended at the same time as beds for the crew and passengers. Each of them is composed of an impervious envelope of gutta-percha, containing another, of common canvas, filled with cork shavings...A valve placed at one of the corners of the outer envelope allows it to be inflated with air...a rope...is used to strengthen the apparatus, and to lash the provisions and watercasks, giving at the same time a hold to the survivors...The apparatus, when constructed on a large scale, would be of great service in saving the crews and passengers of a ship...It might be made use of also to land and embark troops, artillery, and war materials...Wishing to test fully the efficiency of his raft, [Captain Urquhart] intended a fortnight ago to cross the Channel on it from Calais to Dover, but was prevented by the Mayor of Calais'. From "Illustrated London News", 1858.
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