Tag Archives: steam

The 120′ Irish steam-powered narrow boat

Read about it here.

Blue-sky thinking

It’s always nice to see new ideas being proposed. Here’s one from The Mechanics’ Magazine, Museum, Register, Journal, and Gazette, No 948, Saturday, October 9, 1841.

Ballooning and steaming in conjunction


Will some one of your learned correspondents have the goodness, through the medium of your instructive publication, to inform the writer, wherein consists the impossibility of the following suggestion being reduced to profitable practice? viz

To transport merchandize across the sea, or from one part of the Continent to another, by means of a balloon towed by a steam lighter, or a steam carriage.

The balloon will relieve the lighter of the weight of the load and be itself guided in the required direction by the steam vessel. A fair and moderate wind, or no wind at all, is the desideratum. The suspended load to be lowered from the balloon by the aeronaut at the place of delivery, and with as little loss of gas as possible; and to be the first passenger is claimed by the projector.

Sir, I remain, yours, &c
Jersey, September 13, 1841

Dick Gaughan and John Grantham …

… both had an interest in Erin-go-Bragh,

How to collide

Cases, however, occasionally arise in river navigation, wherein it is not possible to avoid collision, either with vessels, barges, or boats; as, for instance, in the pool, near the Tower, &c, owing to the very crowded condition in which such places are generally found; being surrounded on every side by one or the other. In such a dilemma the only alternative is to stop the [paddle-]wheels, and let the vessels close together as easy as possible, taking care to guard the sides and paddle boxes with fenders, and using every endeavour to boom each other off; after which, let the Steamer drift with the tide, but watch an opening among the vessels for escape, and, so soon as it offers, set her on at rather better than half speed, in order to insure a command of her.

It is somehow consoling to know that even Commanders RN have been known to collide ….

The quotation is from Commander Robert Otway RN An Elementary Treatise on Steam, more particularly as applicable to the purposes of navigation, with a familiar description of the engine; Shewing the manner of its management in giving the Rotatory Motion; how started, eased, and stopped; the Nature and Properties of Steam, on both High and Low-pressure principles; its introduction into, and discharge from, the Cylinders, illustrated; as, also, how to ascertain the quantum of Actual Pressure at which the Engine is working; and the manner of Condensing Steam explained; together with a General Account of the operations of the Engine-Room; shewing the Accidents to which Steam Boilers are liable, and means of prevention; and, further, the Economy of Coals, how to be effected, &c, &c G Poore, Plymouth 1837.

This is a very readable book, available here as a free Google PDF, giving an interesting insight into the problems of the early naval steamers — and of their engineers.

Theatre steam

The Abbey Theatre has announced that it has bought Nos 15–17 Eden Quay, Dublin 1. No 15 was the address of the main offices of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company.

From the Dublin Almanac of 1845

The company crest is said to be still on the wall. Abbey Street Old seems to run between the two premises; no doubt there will be some means of avoiding any problem.

I wish the Abbey Theatre well in its extension, but I hope it will find some way of honouring the memory of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company and of the underrecognised Charles Wye Williams.

Dunally Line

The Birdhill Tidy Towns group has a heritage trail on its website and it was there that I first heard of the Dunally Line, AKA the R496. Tipperary North Riding County Council also uses the name [.DOC] and it is also used in several places on OpenStreetMap.

I would like to know more about the date, purpose and circumstances of the construction of the Dunally Line.

Dry docks


At a Meeting of the Company of Undertakers of the Grand Canal, duly convened by public Advertisement, and held at the Company’s House in Dublin, on Monday, the 6th day of April, 1840,

WILLIAM MURPHY, Esq., in the chair,

The following Resolution, moved by James Pim, jun., Esq., seconded by James Dawson, Esq., passed unanimously in the afformative: —

Resolved — That the Court of Directors of this Company be authorised, if they shall see fit, to call the attention of the Government, of the Chamber of Commerce, of the Ballast Corporation, of the several Steam Companies, and of Capitalists generally, to the important advantages which the Grand Canal Company’s Floating and Graving Docks at Ringsend offer to all parties connected with the Shipping interests of the Port of Dublin, and to apprize them that this Company will at all times be ready to entertain any well considered proposition for increasing the general usefulness of these Docks, on the fairest and most liberal terms as regards the Public. Under the firm persuasion that by whatever well-arranged proceeding this important portion of the Company’s property can be best made available in increasing the Trade and promoting the prosperity of the City of Dublin, it will be rendered the most effectually conducive to the interests of the Company.

By order, JOHN McMULLEN,
Secretary of the Company.

From The Freeman’s Journal 8 April 1840.

Perhaps Waterways Ireland might follow the example of its predecessors and, rather than getting into bed with the DDDA, might consider some “well considered proposition for increasing the general usefulness of these Docks”.


SS John Randolph

The SS John Randolph, described as “America’s first successful iron ship in commerce”, is commemorated by a historical marker in Savannah, Georgia, USA.

The John Randolph was one of the first six iron vessels built by Lairds of Birkenhead (later merged into Cammell Laird). The other five were built for use on the River Shannon.

Into the west

An unidentified sister-ship of the MGWR Royal Canal steamer Rambler went fishing in the west of Ireland ….

The National Museum

Why at least three quarters of its items should be dumped.