1812, P.S. Comet

£15.00

Paddle Steamers 1812-1924

Availability: In stock

In 1811, engineer Henry Bell of Helensburgh, Scotland commissioned a Port Glasgow shipbuilder to build a 30-ton wooden paddle steamer with a 3hp engine. He named her Comet after a spectacular comet that had appeared the previous year. In August 1812, after a trial voyage from Port Glasgow to the Broomielaw (a street beside the River Clyde in Glasgow) and then back down to Greenock, during which the boat made 5 knots against a headwind and dramatically cut the usual journey time, Bell inaugurated a regular passenger service between Glasgow, Greenock and Helensburgh. No longer did ferries need to be so dependent upon wind and tide. This was the first commercial steam passenger service in Europe. Lengthened and improved, the Comet then ran a service to Oban and Fort William via the Crinan Canal, but in 1820 she was shipwrecked off Oban. A successor Comet sank after a collision with considerable loss of life. Bell’s pioneering venture was soon superseded technically and eclipsed by rivals but he had shown the way.

Dimensions 47.5 × 34.5 cm