In 1857 a new company commenced running from Weymouth to the Channel Islands and France, the Weymouth and Channel Islands Steam Packet Company, mainly financed by the Great Western Railway Company, who commenced with two vessels Cygnus and Aquila.
The Cygnus, an iron paddler, was built in 1854 by Henderson and Sons of Renfrew. She had a length of 182ft and a breadth of 20ft, with two funnels and a clipper bow. Her maiden voyage to Jersey was on 11 April 1857. Cygnus earned £10,000 in salvage for the Weymouth and Channel Islands Steam Packet Company when she rescued and took into tow a newly built vessel called the John Dixon, loaded with cargo, which was disabled off West Bay while on her maiden voyage.