529. JUTE consists of the fibres of two plants, the chonch and isbund, which are extensively cultivated in Bengal. It is shipped in the East Indies all the year round, but chiefly during the north-east monsoon; nearly all at Calcutta; very little at Bombay; some from Manilla. Bales are accepted at an average of 300 lb. each; and sales are often made by anticipation in England at that weight. For freight a ton consists of five bales; this rule prevails at Manilla, where the bales weigh almost invariably 280 lb. - 2½ cwt. Ballast the same as for cotton -- say 300 ton to 1,000 ton register. Jute is very liable to ignite through friction, and for this reason special attention should be paid when it is stowed in the same hold with other goods liable to be loosened by the movements of the ship at sea. Some masters will never stow jute near spirits, turpentine, or other inflammable liquids, for by the proximity of two such dangerous articles, there would be no chance for the escape of the ship should fire commence in the locality. With grain in the same hold a height of other goods should intervene. Bales of jute are roped very tightly but they have a tendency to swell, and there is some degree of danger in taking a full cargo, especially if damp, or the ground tier becomes wetted. The bales require to be closely examined when shipped to ascertain that they are not damp inside, the more so should they have been packed during the rainy season. Where the previous heated state of the jute has been observed, and the fore and after hatches have been opened, and windsails let down while passing through the tropics, the ship has been saved. The liability to spontaneous combustion, arising from being packed green, or imperfectly dried, is stated to be at an end long before the termination of a voyage from Calcutta to England. When a portion only of the cargo consists of jute, due regard should be paid to its position in the hold, on account of this dangerous property.
530. The ship James Pattison, Capt. Cromarty, was burnt to the water's edge when off the Azores in 1840; she had a large quantity of jute; the fire commenced in the hold. The James Baines (77 days from Calcutta) was destroyed by fire in the Liverpool docks, in April, 1858. She registered 2,275 ton, was 250 feet long, 41 feet broad, and 28 feet deep. The 'twixt decks were discharged, and the lower hatches taken off in the presence of surveyors, on the 21st, when no damage of any kind was perceptible. On the 22nd smoke was observed, and a fire which commenced in the main hold, soon destroyed her. The cargo remaining consisted of 2,200 bales jute, 6,213 bales linseed, 6,682 bags of rice, and 40 bales cow hides; the fire was attributed to spontaneous combustion. The Sutlej, Capt. James, was destroyed by fire in Calcutta in January, 1859; she had in saltpetre and jute, and it is conjectured that the latter became ignited, smouldered all night, and burst into flame in the morning, when the hatches were removed. As the fire reached the saltpetre loud reports were heard below, which terrified the crew, most of whom jumped overboard; five were drowned. The fact of spontaneous combustion in the vessels named, is disputed by masters who have brought full cargoes in good order, and by some experienced London merchants, who consider that the balance of evidence was "totally opposed to it;" they find that jute packed damp or green will be reduced to powder (in which condition it often arrives in England), but it will never fire. The manufactures in Dundee, where large quantities are used, do not believe in spontaneous combustion. It is stated that jute has been tried in England in large quantities, mixed with oil and placed unde glass to see if it would ignite, but it failed. It is also said that in England, fire has never yet been discovered to have commenced from the inside of a pile. The London Dock Companies and the Insurance Offices consider jute very inflammable, and require for it in warehouses a higher premium than for Russian hemp or flax, of which jute merchants complain. Through the fineness of the fibre, a portion of which is always exposed on the outside of a bale, jute will ignite with the least flame, which will run along a pile, but if there is no body of tow to come in contact it will die out. No unprotected light should be ever taken near it. Rope bands are preferable to iron, the rust of which destroys jute. It is said that jute hemp is capable of being loaded with its own weight of tar.
Tonnage. Bengal and Madras ton 50 cubic feet in bales. At Calcutta 5 bales, weighing 15 cwt, and measuring 46 cubic feet, go to a ton; when badly screwed, 50 cubic feet; when shipped by measurement only, 50 cubic feet compressed, in bales, weigh sometimes 17 cwt. Another authority says, a ton weighs 10 cwt, and measures 50 feet. A third authority says, 5 bales of jute at Calcutta, are usually calculated to occupy 64 cubic feet, but they are stated to occupy 52 feet only. Calcutta bales loaded at Bombay, have measured 12 ft. 6 in. each -- 62½ feet to the ton. Every removal increases the bulk of a bale.
Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius
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