Passengers stepped contently onto the packed deck of the steamshipfor their return to London after an enjoyable day spent on the beach at Sheerness. Halfway on its journeyit was hit by the coal ship,Bywell Castle, a vessel three times its size. The impact sliced the smaller boat apart and itsank rapidly, throwing all its passengers and crew into the Thames.They were dragged under-water by the Thames’ currents and their soon saturated, heavy Victorian clothing. To make matters worse, people swallowed toxic wastefroma nearby sewage pipe as they struggled to stay alive. The crew of theBywell Castle and close-by fishermen saved 130 people. Over the coming days more bodies were recovered and taken to docks in east London, where thousands of people waited anxiously for news about their missing loved ones. Bodies were recovered at the time and for days afterwards, but yet more turned up on the river’s bank for months afterwards. The true death toll was never known, but it was estimated to be over 650. The Princess Alice incident was the largest loss of life ever on a British waterway, but its story has been lost in time.