Liverpool History Society Questions

A selection of Liverpool history questions submitted to the Liverpool History Society

Great Western


I’m researching a peculiar event that occurred in Liverpool in November 1864. Newspapers report that a large number of ‘glassblowers’ travelled from Dublin, Lonodn and Ashton to LIverpool, having been recruited to work in New York. A ship called the ‘Great Western’ was waiting but before all men had boarded some angry relatives complained to the police and the ship was deneid permission to sail. There is a strong suggestion that the men were being tricked into providing labour, or perhaps military service, for the Northern States which was at that time fighting the American civil war.  Certainly, the man who procured the workers was residing at the address of the radical John Baxter Langley who had shortly before been involved in preventing a Confederate blockade runner sailing from Newcastle…

Anyone know what was going on?

Dave George

18/02/2011 - Posted by | Great Western |


  1. Hello Dave,

    It appears the Great Western was scrapped prior to 1864 do you know it you have the correct name for the vessel. In 1847 she was sold to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and used on the West Indies run. Later, after serving as a troopship in the Crimean War, in 1856 she was broken up at Castles’ Yard, Millbank on the Thames.

    Excerpt from Bygone Liverpool by RAMSAY MUIR

    “Although launched in July 1843 she was not ready for sea until December 1 844, owing to the weight of her machinery and fittings immersing her in the dock to such a depth as to make it impossible for her to pass out. She left Liverpool on her first voyage on July 26, 1845, with forty-five passengers, and arrived at New York on August 10, 1845. Her last voyage as an Atlantic liner was in the year 1852, when she accomplished the homeward journey from New York in 10 days 23 hours. She was then transferred to the Australian trade, and was the first large steam vessel to perform that voyage. She left Liverpool on her first voyage to Australia on August 21, 1852, with 600 passengers, and reached Melbourne on November 10, 1852, her average speed from the Cape of Good Hope being 284 miles per day.”


    Rob Ainsworth

    Web Administrator
    Liverpool History Society
    Web Site:

    Comment by Liverpool History Society Questions | 18/02/2011 | Reply

    • All the information I have is from a newspape article in The Lancaster Gazette, and General Advertiser for Lancashire, Westmorland, Yorkshire, &c. (Lancaster, England), Saturday, November 26, 1864. Its quite possible the ship was never really called the Great Western and was simply named this for convenience. There seems to be quite a bit of skullduggery goign on at the time …

      Comment by Dave George | 24/02/2011 | Reply

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