One of the earliest steamship routes around the British Isles was that to the Channel Islands, a service greatly expanded by the formation of the New South Western Steam Navigation Company in 1847. Largely financed by the London & South Western Railway Company, it immediately ordered three new iron paddle steamers of identical design from the London yards of Ditchburn & Mare at Blackwall.
The second of the trio to be launched was Dispatch and she was completed in April 1848. A handsome two-master with a pair of raked funnels, she was registered at 320 tons gross (197 net) and measured 166½ feet in length with a 22 foot beam. Capable of just over 13 knots at full speed, she made her maiden voyage from Poole to St. Helier on 2nd May 1848 but changed her port of embarkation to Southampton - for the main mail service - within a week of entering service. A major refit in 1853 was followed by several others as she grew older yet she was still able to make 13.2 knots over the measured mile in a bad weather trial after a dockyard stay in 1861. Withdrawn from the mail service in 1864 when superceded by larger and more modern vessels, she nevertheless continued to operate elsewhere including the opening of the Cherbourg route in May 1869. Finally withdrawn from passenger services in 1881, she was used as a company coal hulk at Southampton until 1897 when she was eventually sold for scrapping.
Ouless marked Dispatch's entry into service in 1848 with a splendid portrait of her running past La Moye at speed although this later view of her is far more dramatic, even allowing for the knowledge that she survived this particular maelstrom to remain in service for many more years.