Daily Event for January 21

As the White Star Line's ship departed on her maiden voyage all on board were looking forward to a new life. The largest ship of her kind she sailed nearly fully booked, hundreds of people who spoke several languages emigrating to make a better life. More than half would never see their new world.

The Titanic, White Star's greatest liner, would not leave on her maiden voyage for another 58 years. However, the Tayleur, under charter to the White Star Line, left on her maiden voyage on January 19, 1854. Tayleur was an iron clipper built in 1853. Two hundred and twenty five feet long and weighing about 1,750 tons. She was designed for the immigrant trade to Australia and was chartered by White Star for her maiden voyage to Melbourne, Australia

After departing Liverpool, White Star's home port at the time, the Tayleur ran into problems. The captain and several of the passengers noticed that the ship was not responding well and seamed to be less than ideal for the open sea. It would later be determined that the rudder was to small for a ship of her size.

That was the structural problem however, the crew was another problem. Many did not speak English and when most needed proved to be incompetent at least and cowards at worst.

In the Irish Sea the Tayleur found herself in a dense fog with a storm building. The ship did not respond to the helm and to complicate matters the compasses were faulty. The iron hull was causing bad readings and the captain was in effect lost. With visibility low and the rudder ineffective the only force in control of the ship and the 652 people was the storm. By the 21st the ship was hopelessly off course and dangerously close to the Irish Coast. The lookout saw land approaching fast. The captain could do nothing to avoid the inevitable and the Tayleur was dashed on the rocks at Lambay Island.

The sea pushed and pulled on the Tayleur smashing her against the rocks several times. The Tayleur was sinking fast and in thirty minuets all that was left was the top of her masts. Passengers reported that many of the crew helped only themselves and left the passengers to their fate. The captain was one of the last people to leave the ship and was rescued by a passenger.

Like the Titanic fifty eight years later over half died. An estimated three hundred and seventy two, including 97 of the 100 women on board. The two hundred and eighty survivors were taken to Dublin and from all accounts were treated well by the local population.

The wreck was sold and scrapped later in the year.

© 2006 Michael W. Pocock