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The Fleets

Great Western Steamship Company

The Great Western Steamship Company was founded about 1837. Their ship, the Great Western was launched 19 July, 1837, 1,340 tons. It sailed from Bristol on 8 April 1838 to New York and arrived 23 Apr 1838. The return voyage left from New York on 7th May and arrived at Bristol 22nd May, 1838. The vessel ran for 9 seasons - lying up in winter - and was sold to the Royal Mail Company for 25,000 and ran for 10 years between Southampton and the West Indies. She was broken up at Vauxhall in 1857. The company ceased operations in 1846.

see also Great Western Steamship Company, II

Many thanks to Ted Finch for his assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Great Western 1837 1847 sold to Royal Mail Steam Packet Co (This is a different ship from the Great Western of 1872) 1,340
Great Britain 1843 1876 laid up, 1882 sold became sailing ship, 1886 hulked in Falkland Islands, 1970 towed to Bristol and restored. 3,270

New York papers of 24th April 1838 gave this account:

British Steam Packet Ship Great Western, James Hosken, R.N. Commander, having arrived yesterday from Bristol, which place she left on 8th inst. At noon, will sail from new York for Bristol on Monday, May 7th, at 2 p.m. She takes no steerage passengers. Rates in the cabin, including wines and provisions of every kind, 30 quineas[sic]; a whole stateroom for one person, 50 guineas. Steward's fee for each passenger, 1 10s. sterling. Children under thirteen years of age, half-price. No charge for letters or papers. The captain and owners will not be liable for any package, unless bill of lading has been given for it. 100 to 200 tons can be taken at the lowest current rates. Passage or freight can be engaged, a plan of cabin may be seen, and further particulars learned by applying to Richard Irvin, 98, Front Street. (p. 41 of The History of North Atlantic Steam Navigation, by Henry Fry, 1896.)

In 1840 the Great Britain, 3,000 tons, was ordered and it was launched 19th July 1843. A few trips to New York were made but the vessel ran aground 22 Sept 1846. In the spring, she was retuned to Liverpool and sold to Gibbs, Bright & Co. where she sailed in the Melbourne trade for about twenty-one years. the Great Britain, poster, schedule etc.

Great Western Steamship Company, II

This company was established in 1871 as the Great Western Steamship Line and became the Great Western Steamship Company, Limited in 1881. They sailed Bristol (later Avonmouth) to New York and in 1879 added a weekly run to Montreal, but the appearance of competition from the Bristol City Line on this route caused the run to be terminated in 1884. In 1887 they made their last New York passenger voyage, thence cargo only. The company was wound up in 1895.

Passenger Routes:

  • 1871 - 1877 Bristol - New York
  • 1877 - 1887 Avonmouth - New York
  • 1879 - 1884 Avonmouth - Quebec - Montreal

Black with broad red band containing blue amd white ball.


Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Arragon 1871 1882 purchased from Liverpool & Charleston Line, 1882 wrecked on Anticosti Island. 1,317
Bristol 1879 ex- City of Valparaiso, 1887 purchased from British owners, 1887 sold to Costa Rica, renamed Costa Rica. 1,983
Cornwall 1873 1885 sold to Turkish owners, renamed Hassan Pasha. 1,872
Devon 1878 1886 sold to Turkish owners, renamed Kyamil Pasha. 1,856
Dorset 1881 1888 sold to British owners. 2,638
Gloucester 1880 ex- City of Santiago, 1886 purchased from British owners, 1886 sold to Turkish owners, renamed Soogoodlee. 2,004
Great Western 1872 1876 wrecked on Long Island NY. 1,541
Lady Lycett 1873 1873-1874 chartered from Mercantile SS Co (qv) for 5 voyages. 1,833
Lapland 1873 1873 chartered from Leith, Hull & Hamburg SP Co for 4 voyages. 1,269
Somerset 1875 1886 sold to Turkish owners, renamed Ali Saib Pasha. 1,823
Warwick 1882 1889 sold to Donaldson Line 2,527

The company owned additional cargo steamers - WORCESTER, OXFORD, CAMBRIDGE, HEREFORD and MONMOUTH. They also chartered the cargo steamers BELSIZE, GOVINO, RIVERSDALE, KATE FAWCETT, BERNINA, SOUTHBOURNE and BARNARD CASTLE.

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