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Britannia - Round the North of Scotland in 1845

Britannia - Round the North of Scotland in 1845

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Published by Kintyre On Record
A dozen gentlemen board The Edinburgh and Dundee Steam-packet Company’s new steamer “Britannia” and take a trip from The Clyde, around the north of Scotland, to The Forth in 1845.
A dozen gentlemen board The Edinburgh and Dundee Steam-packet Company’s new steamer “Britannia” and take a trip from The Clyde, around the north of Scotland, to The Forth in 1845.

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Published by: Kintyre On Record on May 07, 2010
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05/07/2010

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TRIP ROUND THE NORTH OF SCOTLAND IN THE NEW STEAM-SHIP
"
BRITANNIA
"
IN 1845
From The Glasgow Courierand Reprinted in The Colonial Times, published in Hobart, Tasmania, on Friday, September26, 1845In former times, before the era of steam navigation and railway locomotion, thecircumnavigation of the coast of Scotland would have beendeemed an achievement of immense magnitude and one which would have taken as many weeks as it does now days toaccomplish. Knowing nothing from ocular demonstration of what is termed the
Ultima Thule
of our own seagirt isle except what is supplied by books, the departure of the Britannia for herappointed station presented an eligible opportunity for the gratification of an ancient desire toscan withour own eyes the wild and magnificent scenery and interesting objects, which arrestthe attention of the voyageur at every turn in his course-a coursé which, as we have alreadyindicated, embraces the whole sea-coast line of Scotland, with the exception of aninconsiderable part to the southward.Bidding, therefore, an adieu to all matters appertaining to things diurnal, a brief space of timesufficed to find us on the forenoon of Wednesday on board the splendidnew iron steam-shipBritannia, Captain Peter Greig, the property of The Edinburgh and Dundee Steam-packetCompany.It was about 11o'clock when we first put foot on deck, just as the leviathan steamer Achilleswas moving out of the harbour on her passage to Liverpool, followed by the Abercromby, alarge emigrantship, the latter being in tow of a steam-tug.While one of our local artists was taking a sketch of the external proportions of the Britannia,from the south bank of the river, we seized the opportunity of making a rapid survey of theinternal economy of her arrangements.Although in some minor details unfinished particularly in the decorative department, one couldat a glance perceive that the
tout ensemble
possesses in admirable combination the
dulce et utile
, the agreeable with the useful, comfortable in all the essentials and splendid withoutostentation or tawdry parade. The decorations of the grand saloon and the private state cabins, are all in harmoniouskeeping with the rules of correct taste and matured judgment. The modern Gothic appears to be the pervading style of the furniture and up-fittings, whichare of solid oak. They are the workmanship of Mr. Thomas Anderson, of Ingram Street and arecertainly highly creditable tothe taste and tradesman-like abilities of that gentleman.Luxurious couches and cushions of the finest velvet of Utrecht, of crimson andgreen, inviterepose, which the steady motion of the vessel is not calculated to disturb. Indeed, in all her"appliances and means to boot", she is unique and everything about her is insome improvedstyle or other, both in designand execution. This remark applies to the steerage department with equal justice, the comfort andaccommodation of steerage passengers being matters of the utmost consequence on such astation as that of Dundee and Leith.1
 
 The Britannia is above 200 tons register, is divided into five water-tight compart-ments, withlife-boats on deck, &c. The engines are of 150 horse power, constructed on the most approvedlow-pressure condensation principle, with Mr. David Napier's patent quadruple piston andother improvements and their performance in this trip is the best encomium we could pay themaker, Messrs. Smith and Bodger, the marine engineers and iron shipbuilders of this city, whohave evidently spared no labour to finish the vessel in a style worthyof their establishedreputation. In her symmetrical proportions, the Britannia is just such a model as the practisedeye loves to dwell upon, presenting, as it does, all the outward attributes of a fast sailer andembracing, as subsequent experience demonstrated, sea-going properties of the highestexcellence The hour appointed for sailing was 11 o'clock, but it was 15 minutes to 12 before she finallyleft the Broomielaw. The weather was all that we could have desired-warm and genial, with acloudless sky'knd a gentle breeze from the westward. The party on board was more select than numerous, certainly not more than a dozengentleman and all sociable, happy, and well-pleased with themselves and with each other. Fewas the number was, it embracedmen of opposite political views, for cheek by jowl might beobserved the doughty Dr. John Ritchie, of Potter Row, with our worthy friend Mr. James M'Nab,in brotherly confabulation.As the Btitannia passed down the river, she was saluted by hearty cheering from the people onthe banks and in the building yards, &c. In point of picturesque beauty and effect, the sceneryof The Clyde is scarcely to be equalled anywhere.From Bowling, the view of the reach is exceedingly fine. The expansive waters just opening upto the view in the distance, the dusky outlines of The Highlands, the lofty rocks of Dumbartonand Dumbuck in the foreground on either bank the eye meets. The pomp of groves, the garniture of fields, which, with the charm of life and motion impartedby the innumerable steam and sailing craft as they dance with as real lightness on theglancing wave, present a panorama, the wonder of tourists and the admiration of all.At this point we overtook the Abercromby, to which we have just alluded and which had justsucceeded in laying the funnel of a steam-tug, proceeding upwards, flat on deck, by coming incontact with her bowsprit. As we passed, the tug presented the appearance of a steam punt,with Mons Meg on board.At five minutes before two afternoon, the Britannia, after repeated slowings of the engines inher course down the river, passed Greenock, and held straight on for The Cumbraes, throughwhich she passed at twenty minutes before four.In the interim, the interesting intimation that dinner was on the table, brought us all togetherin closer connection.Captain Greig occupied the chair and the duties of croupier were discharged by Mr. Bodger, of the firm of Messrs.Smith and Bodger, the builders of the vessel. The discussion of an ample and elegant dinner was succeeded by several rounds of toasts,chiefly in relation to the occasion. Among the more prominent was the "Edinburgh and DundeeSteam Packet Company," nor were the public-spirited proprietors of the new steamerforgotten, their names individually being received with every demonstration of applause. This2
 
important matter over, the party separated till the steward should again summon them to teaand supper.Once more on deck we found the vessel abreast of Arran, with its lofty peak of Goatfell "theobserved of all observers" gilded by the genial rays of the sun. At twenty minutes past five wepassed the Pladda Light, Ailsa Craig looming in The distance, presenting an insular mass of columnar trap rising abruptly from the water, firmed an admirable to real perspective to thepicture. In form the rock of Ailsa is not unlike the perches on The Clyde, but on somewhat of amore magnificent scale, on a scale similar to what the peak of Teneriffe would be to the funnelof a steam-boat.As we neared the rocky promontory of The Mull of Cantyre, the sun was perceptibly sinking inthe horizon in the effulgence of lucid light. It was a glorious sight to behold the luminary of daygradually sink into a sea of molten gold and leave "the 'red clouds to preside o'er the scene." Those who have neverseen sunset at sea on a summer evening can scarcely form an accurateidea of its grandeur. Nor was our pleasure lessened by our anticipations of the coming day,when the scene recalled to memory the lines of Shakspeare : "The weary sun bath made agolden set; And, by the bright track of his fiery car, Gives promise of a goodly day tomorrow."With a fresh breeze, which now sprung upfrom the west, we made The Mull of Cantyre at aquarter-past eight. The clouds of night now closed in upon the scene, leaving objects impalpable to sight and at11 o'clock, after theBritannia had passed the north part of the island of Gigha, the voyagingparty turned intotheir berths, leaving the careful watch to patrol the deck by himself alone. Thursday, May 22 "The morning louredand heavily in clouds brought in the day."We ascertained that while enfolded in the embrace of Somnus the Britannia encountered theformidable Corryvreoken in passing betweenthe northern extremity of Jura and themountainous isle of Scarba. Noth withstanding the commotion of the tides the narrow passagewas made, but not without some difficulty.None however, except a vessel of first-rate excellence, could do it so successfully or so well tosmaller inferior craft the terrible whirlpool of Corryvrecken is sure destruction.At five o'olockin the morning we passed through he Sound of Mull and found ourselves off thepoint of Ardnomurchan, with fresh winds from E. N. E.As the morning advanced the scenery became more grand, more impressive and presentednone of the characteristic traits of general desolation and savage wildness.Passing a small island called Muck or Muke, we came alonganother of larger dimensionsnamed Eig. The Scuir of Eig, a peculiarly shaped hill, terminating in a lofty peak, andsurrounded by highand perpendicular precipices, is its more remarkable feature. The isle of Eig is associated with an act of inhuman atrocity and horror, said to have beencommitted by one of the lairds of Macleod, which involved the extermination of the whole of the inhabitants. The story runs that, in consequence of some insult offered to one of the laird's clansmen, hethreatened vengeance on the natives, who took refuge in a cave and for a time eluded thesearch of the Macleod. Ultimately, however, the poor people were discovered in the cavern3

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