White Star Line
The White Star Line was founded in 1845 by two Liverpool ship brokers, Henry Threlfall Wilson and John Pilkington. Their fleet of clipper ships sailed between the home port of Liverpool and New South Wales, Australia where gold had recently been discovered. Outbound voyages transported immigrants and supplies to the developing colony, inbound cargoes consisted of whale oil, wool and gold dust.
John Pilkington retired from the partnership in 1856. His place was taken by James Chambers. In 1863 Wilson and Chambers decided to add steam power to their fleet. Their first steam vessels was ROYAL STANDARD built at the Tyneside Shipyard by Palmer Brothers and Jarrow. While still basically a sailing vessel, ROYAL STANDARD boasted a 2-cylinder engine of 165 horsepower (rated by Lloyd’s surveyors as ‘auxiliary steam power equal to 250 horses). Accommodation was provided for 40 cabin and 800 steerage passengers.
On 23 November 1863 ROYAL STANDARD set off on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne, Australia. Her commander, Captain E.J. Allen, died on the outward voyage and his place was taken by G.H. Dowell, under whose command the vessel departed Melbourne 21 March 1864 on the return leg of the maiden voyage.
On 24 April 1864 at 50 degrees 40’S 145 degrees 27’W ROYAL STANDARD suddenly entered a dense fog and moments later ran parallel against an immense iceberg that towered above the ship’s masts. Scraping and bumping along the berg’s edge and smashing her upper masts as well as badly damaging her starboard side in several places, ROYAL STANDARD managed to clear the ice in about three-quarters of an hour with sail power aided by her quickly-activated steam engine.
After steaming to Rio de Janeiro for repairs, the ship arrived
back at Liverpool 19 June 1864.
Financial difficulties and a bank failure forced the White Star Line’s dissolution at the end of 1867. But the company survived, if in name only, when its assets-including good will and the house flag (a red swallowtail pennant with a five-pointed white star) were purchased for 1,000 pounds by a Liverpool shipowner, Thomas H. Ismay.
Port of Registry: Liverpool
Flag of Registry: British
Company Flag: Red swallowtail with 5-pointed white star
Iron hull, sheathed with marine metals, coppered, 1 funnel, 3 masts, single screw
Tonnages: gross: 2,033 net: 1,598
Dimensions: length: 255 feet, width : 40 feet, depth: 27.5 feet
1863 August launched
1863 Nov. 23 Maiden Voyage Liverpool-Melbourne
1864 March 21 Departure for the return leg of the maiden voyage Melbourne to Liverpool
1864 April Encountered and struck ice
1864 June 19 After repairs in Rio arrived back in Liverpool
1866 May 23 Departed Liverpool for a round trip voyage to New York
1866 Sept. 27 Departed Liverpool on last voyage, Liverpool –Melbourne roundtrip
1868 Engine removed, converted entirely to sail
1869 Oct. 10 Wrecked on Brazilian coast near Cape St. Tome
© 2004 John P. Eaton all rights reserved.
This item first appeared in Voyage, Journal of the Titanic International Society.