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Courier passes the Casquets

The paddle steamer Courier was a regular operator in Channel Island waters in the second half of the 19th century

Courier from an Ouless painting

In 1847 the New South Western Steam Navigation Company was formed. It bought out the South Western Steam Packet Company's ships and property for £56,623 also the South of England Steam Packet's ships and property for £29,000 and in part cost of three new ships Express, Dispatch and Courier, £42,870. This company was loaned £50,000 by the London and South Western Railway Company.

This new company renewed the 5-year mail contract for £4,000 in April, 1848. 1851 saw the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company sued by the South Eastern Railway Company for owning ships contrary to law, so afterwards the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company chartered ships from a Mr Maples who had a cargo service operating from Littlehampton to the Channel Islands and from Newhaven to Dieppe. These ships were chartered for eleven years until the Act of Parliament, of 1862, allowing the railway companies to own and operate ships.

A new paddle steamer (iron) built specially for the Channel Islands traffic was the Courier, built by Ditchburn and Mare of Blackwall for the South Western Steam Packet Company, of 314 tons and engined by Maudsley. Henry Maudsley accompanied her on her maiden voyage to Jersey on 12 November 1847.

She had two funnels and a clipper bow and was commanded by Captain James Goodridge, who was previously in command of the Monarch. Courier was withdrawn from service in 1875.

Major refit

9 July 1852: [1]

The South Western Steam Packet Company vessel Courier returned to the Islands this week following a major refit. This included new boilers, funnels, ventilators and deck gear.

This popular vessel was forever immortalised by the Philip Ouless painting of 1853 of her arrival in St Helier, Jersey (above).

Disastrous gale

4 June 1860: [2]

Both Courier and Brighton left Guernsey for Jersey in a fresh breeze, but by Corbiere they were facing the severest of gales. On board the Courier the female passengers were screaming in terror as she rounded Corbiere. She made it to the roads, then ran for the harbour to land her passengers and goods.

Brighton was not so lucky. The wind increased soon after her departure from St Peter Port, and she found it impossible to get round Corbiere. She turned back and chose the north-eastern passage, but rounding Grosnez huge waves smashed the skylights and flooded the saloons.

Once calmer waters were reached to the east of the Island she finally made the safety of St Helier Harbour.

Notes and references

  1. From Facebook group Maritime Jersey, by Mark Pulley
  2. From Facebook group Maritime Jersey, by Mark Pulley
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