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The wreck of the TAYLEUR

Date: 1854
Overall: 400 x 268 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00001088
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A page from The Illustrated London News with information on the wreck of clipper ship TAYLEUR and two engravings of the event. TAYLEUR, launched in 1853 for the Australian passenger trade, was caught in a storm and ran aground off the coast of Ireland on its maiden voyage to Australia in 1854.
    SignificanceThis engraving represents the passenger trade to Australia during the height of the gold rush and is representative of the peril of ocean travelling.
    HistoryTAYLEUR was designed by William Rennie and built at Warrington near Liverpool, UK. It was originally designed as a screw-driven steamship; however, the lack of an appropriate engine meant that the ship was modified and completed as a fully rigged iron-hulled clipper ship. It was owned by Charles Moore & Co and chartered by the White Star Line to service the booming Australian gold rush route. It was completed within six months of laying the keel and towed down the River Mersey to Liverpool to be fitted out in October 1853. TAYLEUR was one of the largest ships built at that time at 230 feet and 1,750 tons.

    TAYLEUR did not undertake any sea trials and left Liverpool on its maiden voyage on 19 January 1854, in poor weather, with 581 passengers and 71 crew. Approximately half the crew had no previous sea experience. Due to the iron hull, the three compasses did not function properly, and TAYLEUR sailed west instead of south. Captain John Noble, a veteran of the clipper ship route to Australia, noticed that the ship handled badly and a tack to change direction took much longer than it should have. The rigging had not been properly stretched prior to departure so handling the ropes and setting the sails was tiresome and prolonged. There were also inherent problems with the placement of the masts as being too far aft, which contributed to the difficulty in handling the vessel. A large hold in the centre of the ship meant that the mainmast and mizzen mast were placed aft, although it affected the balance of the ship. This design feature may have remained for a possible later conversion of TAYLEUR to steam.

    On the night of 21 January, a fog and storm developed and TAYLEUR, also having a rudder too small for its tonnage, ran aground on Lambay Island in the Irish Sea just after midnight. Lifeboats were launched but were smashed on the rocks, and it was deemed unsafe to launch more. A mast was broken and was long enough to reach the island - several of the passengers and crew utilised this method and then used ropes to help others. After 40 minutes, the ship was washed out into deeper water by the storm with only parts of the masts above water. One survivor was rescued from this position 14 hours after the ship ran ashore. Approximately 370 people died and of the 200 women on board, only three survived. The wreck of TAYLEUR lies around 30 m off Lambay Island and is a protected site.

    Illustrated weekly magazines became increasingly popular in Europe and America during the mid-19th century. They used large eye-catching illustrations to accompany articles on politics, war, travel, exploration, fine arts, science and literature. The coverage of the gold rush and immigration were popular stories in America, Australia and England. The sleek and graceful clipper ships generated a sense of romance, competition, national pride and innovative technology. It was this sense of modernity, romance and excitement that made them interesting subjects in weekly magazines.

    To emigrate or remain at home was a major decision faced by many families in the 19th century. In the United Kingdom and Ireland alone, these reasons included land clearance (Scotland and Ireland), famine (Ireland), unemployment (England), the desire to get rich or the quest for political or religious freedom (Cornwall, the Midlands, Scotland and Ireland).

    During the 1850s and 1860s the discovery of gold in California and Australia instigated the movement of many people. The travellers and emigrants brought with them their home customs and traditions, leaving a lasting impact on Australian society, technology, economy and lifestyle.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: The wreck of the TAYLEUR

    Primary title: Wreck of the TAYLEUR in Dublin Bay

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