Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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British and American Steam Navigation Co

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1836 The idea of regular scheduled transatlantic service was under discussion by several groups; one of the companies established at this time was the British and American Steam Navigation Co.

1838 Because construction of British and American Steam Navigation Co's first ship had been delayed, the company chartered Sirius to beat SS Great Western to New York. Sirius was a 700 GRT Irish Sea steam packet on the London - Cork route; part of her passenger accommodation was removed to make room for extra coal bunkers. She left London three days before Great Western, refuelled at Cork, and departed for New York on 4 April. Great Western was delayed in Bristol because of a fire and did not depart until 8 April.

Even with a four-day head start, Sirius only narrowly beat Great Western, arriving on 22 April. When coal ran low, the crew burned cabin furniture, spare yards and one mast, inspiring the similar sequence in Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days. Great Western arrived the following day, with 200 tons of coal still aboard. Sirius is often credited with establishing the first speed record across the Atlantic, of 8.03 knots. However, she only held the record for a day because Great Western's voyage was faster at 8.66 knots.

1840 Macgregor Laird, managing director, wrote a letter on behalf of the company countering reports that The President had founded[1] and again some months later when the ship was still missing[2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Nov 27, 1840
  2. The Times (London, England), Monday, May 31, 1841