London, South Kensington
29 November 1996
THE GREAT WESTERN STEAM-SHIP COMPANY
A draft memorial headed "To the Right Honorable Sir Robert Peel Baronet and The Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury. The Memorial of the Directors of the Great Western Steam Ship Company," with several pen or pencil additions and amendments in I. K. Brunel's hand, 9 pages, large 4to, .
The memorial lays considerable emphasis on the performance of the Great Western during four years service on the Atlantic route, making special mention of the storms in November 1838 and January and March 1839 when the ship "contended against violent and long continued contrary Gales" [and] "the great strength and scientific proportions of her Hull, and the appropriate adaptation of Steam power to Tonnage combined with the judicious arrangements of the Directors of the Company and the nautical skill of their Captain enabled her successfully to contend against the same at times when the Atlantic was strewed with wrecks ...."
Whereas other steam ship lines had received grants from the previous government to build ships the Great Western Steam-Ship Company did not, despite an unparalled record and the willingness of the "memorialists" to share their expertise. A particular bone of contention is the award of the government conract to carry Royal mail between England and Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Cunard. As is clear from the copy of Captain Christopher Claxton's letter of 13 December 1838 to Charles Wood at the Admiralty, appended at the end of the memorial, the contract was awarded to Cunard on terms that his own Company had asked for but not received. Financial redress from Peel's government is sought for on grounds of the unfair competition from Cunard which has so seriously damaged the Great Western Steam-Ship Company financially. As Brunel writes in an amendment, the directors "have been unable to make a fair dividend or to pay one farthing of interest to their Proprietary upon the last year's work."
With 11 printed reports of the "Annual General Meeting of the Proprietors of the Great Western Steam-Ship Company," numbers 2-8, 10-14, 1842-51, and 4 autograph letters relating to the Company. (16)
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