Tag: Steamships

Renewed Attempt to Launch the Leviathan

From The Illustrated London News, January 9, 1858, Volume 32, January – June 1858

THE ” LEVIATHAN ” — A renewed attempt has been made this week to launch this vessel. The machinery used and the hydraulic apparatus had been greatly increased in strength, and instead of six hydraulic machines ten have been brought into play, one being the original press used in the operations for carrying out that vast undertaking the Menai Bridge and which alone gave over 200 tons nominal pressure. A progress of several feet each day has been made, and no cessation of operations will take place until the huge ship is fairly in the water.

The Monster Great Eastern

From The New York Herald, September 23, 1859, Morning Edition

The Trip Out of the Thames and Arrival in the Nore.



The Voyage Across the Atlantic from Port to Port to be Made in One Week.

All John Bulldom in a Delirium of Excitement,

&c., &c., &c.

Special Correspondence the N.Y. Herald.

Great Eastern, Nore Light, Sept. 8, 1869.

Splendid Performance of the Ship – Her Great Success – Her Great Speed, &c.

The Great Eastern is a success. She left Deptford at 7:80 yesterday, and with the aid of four steamtugs worked round the sharp points of the Thames to Purfleet, below Woolwich, where she lot go a single anchor  one of Trotman’s patent – and swung to her moorings as easily and gracefully as a yacht. At 8 A. M. we weighed anchor, passed Gravesend at 10:30, and at 11 cast off all the tugboats, and steamed up with nine turns of the paddle engines and thirty of the screw engines. She made thirteen knots, exceeding by nearly half a knot the estimate of her builder and engineers, which gives her at full speed nineteen knots an hour. Little doubt is now felt that she will go twenty nautical miles, and keep up long after ordinary ships would have to slow down for bad weather. In every respect the performance of the ship is most satisfactory. She steers as easily as a pilot boat, and parts the water forward as easily as a North river steamboat. Her engines – screw and paddle – work with as much regularity as if they had been at it for months. In short, the ship and machinery seem to be perfect

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The Disaster to the Great Eastern

From The Weekly Pioneer and DemocratOctober 11, 1861

She Breaks her Rudder and Becomes Unmanageable.



She Reaches Cork a Floating Wreck.

Farther Point, Tuesday, Oct. 1.—The following in regard to the disaster to the steamship Great Eastern is taken from the English papers :

The Great Eastern left her moorings in the river Mersey at half past one o’clock on Tuesday, the 10th of September. The pilot boats left her at 4 o’clock. She immediately put on full speed, and all went well with her until 4 o’clock on Thursday, when, a strong breeze prevailing, the aft tackle of one of the forward boats on the port side became unhooked, leaving it suspended by one tackle. The captain endeavored to steady the ship while this was rectified, but found to his surprise that she did not answer the helm. The fact was, though it was not known at the time, the rudder pin was broken. The fore staysail was run up but it was blown away. The paddle engines were now stopped, and the the boat lashings cut away, when the Great Eastern once more started on her course. The passengers then went down to dinner, and from that moment commenced a chaos of breakages which lasted without intermission for three days. Everything breakable was destroyed. Furniture, fittings, services of plate, piano—all were involved in one common ruin. It now became known that the rudder was unmanageable. About six o’clock the vessel had to be stopped again owing to two rolls of sheet lead, weighing several hundred weight each, which were in the engine room, rolling about with every oscillation of the vessel with fearful force. These having been secured, another start was made, when a tremendous grinding was heard under the paddle-boxes. The shaft had become twisted, and the floats were grinding against the side of the ship. The paddles were stopped, and thenceforward the scene is described as fearful in the extreme. The ship rolled so violently that the boats were washed away. The cabin, besides undergoing the dangers arising from the crashes and collisions which were constantly going on, had shipped, probably through the port holes, a great deal of water, and the stores were floating about in utter confusion and ruin. Some of the chandeliers fell down with a crash. A large mirror was smashed into a thousand fragments, rails of banisters, bars, and numerous other fittings, were broken into numberless pieces. Some idea of the roughness of the night may possibly be gathered from the fact that the large chain cables polished themselves quite bright with friction on deck. A spare riding bit gave way on the cabledeck, and knocked a hole through the ship’s side. Two oil tanks, also on the cabledeck, were so much damaged by another concussion that 200 gallons of fish oil contained in them ran into the hold, and caused, during the rest of the unhappy voyage, a most intolerable odor. The luggage of the passengers in the lower after cargo space was lying in two leet of water, and, before the deliverance of the ship was effected, the luggage was literally reduced to rags and pieces of timber. Twenty-five fractures of limbs occurred from the concussions caused by the tremendous lurching of the vessel. Cuts and bruises were innumerable. One of the cooks was cast violently, by one of the lurches, against the paddlebox, by which he sustained fearful bruises on the arms, putting it out of his power to protect himself. Another lurch drove him against one of the stanchions, by which concussion one of the poor fellow’s legs was broken in three places. The baker received injuries of a very terrible character in vital parts ; and one of the most striking incidents of the disaster was this poor, brave man, crawling in his agony to extinguish some portion of the baking gear, which at that moment had caught fire.

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The Departure of the Great Eastern

From The Weekly Pioneer and Democrat, September 30, 1859

From the London Times.

Nore Light, Thursday, Sept. 8.

After her first short run the Great Eastern remained at her anchor off Purfleet for the rest of the night, and slowly resumed her progress down the river at a quarter to 9 o’clock this morning. Her stoppage at Purfieet was a sad disappointment to many thousands who had been collecting at Gravesend all day in the firm belief that she could or would stop nowhere else. Her slight detention at Blackwall point, however, prevented this, and it became absolutely necessary from the state of the tide to bring up at once at Long Reach. The distinguished arrival threw Purfleet into a state of uncommon excitement. Every one within moderate reach of it by road or rail hurried to the little village till it was thronged to the water’s edge. Gravesend, also, seemed most unwilling to yield up its share in the great occasion without an effort, and before long crowded boats steered round and round the ship, the passengers cheering themselves till they were hoarse again, while the bands played “See the Conquering Hero Comes,” “Rule Britannia,’’ and ail sorts of musical welcomes. For the rest of the evening there was a constant repetition of such visits. Not a vessel passed that did not turn up hands to cheer, while many, as they came down the river, dressed in flags from stem to stern. It was not till night had fallen that the great ship was fairly left alone, and began swinging round to her anchor with the rising tide. The night was a little puffy, and seemed inclined to come more so, but the wind fell as the moon rose, and the weather eventually settled down into a dead calm, it took upwards of an hour for the tide to turn the ship fully round, and at low water, as she lay across the river for a short time in turning, she might almost be said to have stopped the navigation with her colossal bulk. During the night she swung twice again, and by daylight was lying with her head fair for the resumption of her course down the river.

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The Atlantic Telegraph Cable

From The Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser, August 7, 1865

The last steamer from England brings the following:

The shore end of the Atlantic cable was landed and successfully connected with the instruments on board the Great Eastern. The Knight of Kerry invoked success on the undertaking, and in conclusion called on Sir Robert Peel, who made an admirable address. Cheers were then given for the President of the United States, when paying out of the heavy shore end of the cable commenced. The splice was completed in the most successful manner, and the cable worked perfectly. The gunboats Terrible and Sphynx accompanied the Great Eastern. A telegram from Valencia, dated the 24th of July, says : “Insulation defects took place on Monday afternoon. The mischief is supposed to exist three miles west of the shore-end splice, and it is believed that it was caused by too much strain from the Great Eastern. She hove too [sic] ten miles from the shore. The Caroline is picking up and underrunning the splice and repairing the fault. It is expected that the damage will be rectified immediately.

The rest of the cable remains perfect. A telegram from the Great Eastern, dated the 25th of July, says: “The cable is all O. K. again.” The signals are perfect. A small fault was discovered and cut out. The Great Eastern is now paying out the cable in lat. 52, long. 12.”

From this end of the line we have the following: Aspy Bay, Aug. 5. – We have succeeded in getting on board three miles of the Newfoundland cable after great labor; the cable, however, is so much corroded that we have no hopes of repairing it. In underrunning it parted three times. We get no tidings of the steamship Great Eastern as yet.

Source: Alexandria gazette. [volume] (Alexandria, D.C.), 07 Aug. 1865. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85025007/1865-08-07/ed-1/seq-4/>

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