The Paddle Steamer “Liverpool”

The Paddle Steamer “Liverpool” — “the first steamship specially built and fitted up for the transatlantic service.” “Painted by S. Walters, drawn on stone by T. Fairland.” Source: Muir's Bygone Liverpool, Plate 37. One should note that Walters has represented the Liverpool in this painting (as he did Royal William) steaming straight into the heavy wind while in the background a sailing vessel that wishes to head the same direction is forced to go sideways so as not to be forced back toward its starting point. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Text accompanying the engraving

This was the second passenger steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Liverpool, steaming all the way. She left Liverpool on her first voyage on October 20, 1838; put back to Queenstown, owing to heavy weather, after having performed nearly a third of her voyage; sailed thence November 6, and reached New York on November 23, 1838, after sixteen and a half days' steaming. She was built at Liverpool by Messrs. Humble and Milcrest for Sir John Tobin, who sold her to the Transatlantic Steamship Company as soon as she was finished. Her dimensions were — length 240 feet, beam 35 feet, depth 21 feet, tonnage 1150. Her engines were built by Messrs. George Forrester and Co., of Liverpool, and were of 464 horse-power, giving a speed of ten knots per hour.

This vessel was the first steamship specially built and fitted up for the transatlantic service, and after making several voyages to New York and back, averaging seventeen days out and fifteen days home, she was sold to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, who lengthened her, thereby increasing her tonnage to 1543, changed her name to the "Great Liverpool," and put her on their mail service between Southampton and Alexandria. She was wrecked off Cape Finisterre in the month of February 1846, with the loss of two lives. It was on board this vessel, when she was in the New York trade, that Mr. Samuel Cunard came to Liverpool from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to commence business as a shipowner in Liverpool. The illustration shows the vessel making her first voyage from Liverpool to New York. [38]

Formatting and text by George P. Landow. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Internet Archive and the University of Toronto and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


Muir, Ramsay. Bygone Liverpool illustrated by ninety-seven plates reproduced from original paintings, drawings, manuscripts, and prints with historical descriptions by Henry S. and Harold E. Young. Liverpool: Henry Young and Sons, 1913. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of Toronto Library

Last modified 14 January 2013