The Steam Packets

From the Star, June 8, 1837

This newspaper article follows neatly on from Communication with England, published the previous year.

It is pleasing to notice the efforts that have been continually making with a view to accelerate the speed of the steam-packets connected with this station, since first they were started in 1824. The Ariadne, which was then by far the swiftest boat, and has since had her speed considerably increased, is now one of the slowest boats on the station, so very rapidly do the others run. The voyage to and from Southampton, which ten years ago averaged from 13 to 15 hours, now averages only from 10 to 13, and the Atalanta a few weeks since made it in the unprecedently short space of 9 hours and 50 minutes; whist, on another occasion, she made the passage from this island to Southampton in ten hours, including a call and stoppage off Alderney to land several passengers. She is unquestionably one of the finest boats that ever ploughed the British Channel. A trial of speed between her and his Majesty's packet Wildfire, Capt. White, Commander, took place on Tuesday, which more than ever served to display the superiority of the Atalanta. The former vessel was some months since lengthened by Messrs. White, of Cowes, and new and powerful machinery put into her, by which her speed was so accelerated that Cap. White declared he would not fear to run her with the Atalanta. An opportunity offered last Tuesday, both vessels having to start from Jersey for this island at six o'clock in the morning. The weather was remarkably propitious for a trial of this nature, there being scarcely wind enough out to cause a ripple on the water. The Wildfire had six minutes start of the Atalanta, but the latter vessel overtook her a short distance off Corbière Point, and arrived here sixteen minutes before her, making a difference of twenty-two minutes on the passage.

The Lady de Saumarez appears to have rather fallen off in speed this season, as she now seldom arrives here within twelve hours from her leaving Southampton. This may be owing to her having had her patent paddles, which were apt to get out of order, replaced by others on the old construction, which, although they stand much better than the patent ones, cause a great loss of power by their lifting the water, instead of propelling it like the former in a horizontal direction. It should also be borne in mind that the engines of this fine vessel, though rated fifties, are but of forty horsepower each, whilst those of the Atalanta are sixties, making upon the two engines a difference of fifty horses in favour of the last-mentioned vessel.

The Sir Francis Drake, which was always deemed a capital sea boat, has received new boilers, and other important improvements, by which her speed has been so accelerated that few steamers on the English coast can now keep pace with her. We learn from the Falmouth Packet, that on Saturday sennight the Hermes, one of his Maheaty's finest steam vessels, left Plymouth Sound shortly after her, and when she passed the Ramehead, she was about two miles astern of the Drake, but when the Drake passed the St Anthony light-house, the Hermes was at least seven miles astern, althought the former had gone into Megavissey to land passengers, having run from her anchorage in Catwater to her anchorage at Falmouth in four hours forty minutes.

The Drake does on a trip to Serk tomorrow morning at 7, leaving Serk again at 4 in the afternoon, on her return from Jersey. The Harlequin, belonging to the General Steam Navigation Company, is about to be put on this station, in opposition to the Lady de Saumarez and Atalanta. She will leave Southampton on Monday evening.

Southampton Steamers.

To the Editor of the Star.

SIR, I read with much satisfaction a paragraph in your last paper intimating that a new steamer was about to be placed on this station in opposition to the Lady De Saumarez. Should such prove to be the case, the new competitor will doubtless meet with every encouragement; and it is sincerely to be hoped that public will at once show their aversion to the monopolizing imposition practised by the Atalanta and Saumarez, by relinquishing the support of these vessels in favour of the newcomer, whose fares will cerainly be at a lower and fairer rate. I can only say opposition is loudly called for, and I heartily wish the opponent success. JUSTITIA.

Guernsey, 6th June, 1837.

See Trotter, JMY, 'Early Guernsey Postal History,' Report and Trans. of the Soc. Guernesiaise, 1950, pp. 28 ff.