Social Change and Steam

The Great Western off New YorkThe First Trans-Atlantic Steamer

“In [1818] a steamship plied from New York to New Orleans as a packet, touching at Charlestown and the Havana.” (P. 269.)

(In [1819] the “Savannah” crossed in twenty-six days from New York to Liverpool, and afterwards went to St. Petersburg, using sail only during the greater part of the time.  Her voyage is too well known to be further noticed here, except to emphasize the fact that from St. Petersburg she returned to her port of departure in the United States.)

“During the year [1819] a vessel rigged as a ship, but furnished also with a steam-engine, was built at New York for the purpose of plying as a packet between that port and Charlestown, Cuba, and New Orleans.  Nothing was wanting except sufficient tonnage to have enabled this vessel to cross the Atlantic in a time as short as that employed by the steamships ‘Great Western’ and ‘Liverpool’ (P. 272.).

In [1820] steam packets were established between Holyhead and Dublin.  The regularity and safety with which the passages between Holyhead and Dublin were performed, established the fact of the superior safety of steamers in storms and dangerous seas.  Communications by lines of packets were speedily established between different points of the British Isles and from Great Britain to the Continent and have long existed to Hamburg, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Calais, and Havre; and there are numerous steam packets plying between different parts of England and Ireland.  The most important line is that between London and Leith, in which the largest steam vessels built before those intended for the navy or crossing the Atlantic were employed.”

Excerpt from The First Trans-Atlantic Steamer by James Walker – 1898

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Further Reading and External Links

Learn more about the British Steamship on Wikipedia