[From History of IoMSPCo, 1904]


Traffic, Finance, &c.

WE warn our readers that this chapter, which deals with such matters as the Company's " railings," mail contracts, passengers and card capital and dividends, is a very dull one, nevertheless, it could not well be omitted in any survey which claims to corer all the main aspects of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's history.


Till 1833, the sailtings between Douglas and Liverpool were as follow: Twice weekly in March and April, and October and November; once weekly in December, January, and February; and three times weekly during the rest of the year. We append a copy of the earliest " bill " we have been able to find, which gives the summer sailings

W. R.



His Majesty's Royal Mail Steam Packet Mona's Isle, for Douglas every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, at Ten o'clock, with passengers only; and will leave Douglas for Liverpool every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, at Eight o'clock a.m.

Fares: Cabin, 60/-; Steerage, 5/-

Children under twelve years of age, half-price.

Each passenger allowed to ship three packages; for
all above that number freight will be charged.

The passage seldom exceeds Eight Hours.


MARK QUAYLE, JUNR., 15 Nova Scotia, Liverpool.

DOUGLAS, May 17, 183l.

In 1832, Gore's Liverpool Directory informs us that the " Isle of Man (steamer) 'Mona's Isle' sails twice a week, with passengers and mails only," and that " the 'Mona' steamer" sails " with goods and passengers every Thursday evening." This notice does not, seemingly, refer to the mid-winter (December, January, and February) sailings, which were not twice weekly till 1833. The following " bill " of 1834, shows the beginning of the daily summer service:

(Picture of Steamer).


The Royal Mail and War Office Steam Packets,



Sail from George's Pierhead (during the summer season) every morning at Ten o'clock; and from Douglas every morning at Eight o'clock. During the winter months, the Mails are conveyed by the above Packets, twice a week, viz., from Liverpool every Monday and Thursday; and from Douglas every Wednesday and Saturday, about the time of high water.

JAMES DUFF, Agent, 28 Brunswick Street.

The Company intend placing on the station a New Steamer for Goods and Passengers.

In 1840, the sailings in October were increased to three weekly; in 1856, the sailings in that month and May were increased to four, and from the 1st of November to the 30th of April to three. In 1879 came the daily service throughout the year, and in 1884 a double service from July to September was advertised, but it had to be abandoned owing to a breakdown of the low pressure cylinder of the "Mona's Isle." No attempt was made to renew this service till 1887, but it has been continued since that date.

As regards other stations, we find that from 1845 to 1850 there were steamers called the "Orion " and the "Fenella," belonging to Kemp & Co., of Fleetwood, sailing twice weekly between Fleetwood and Douglas. In 1847, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company put on a steamer between these two ports, also twice a week, but on different days, Kemp & Co. acting as its agents. These vessels sailed throughout the year. In 1851, however, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company gave up the station as being unprofitable, and Messrs. Kemp & Co. appear to have given it up also. In 1855, the Manx Company again tried this station once weekly in July and August, but for that season only. The station was then abandoned till 1866, when the two Companies came to an agreement whereby the isle of Man Steam Packet Company's " Mona's Queen " and Kemp & Co.'s " Prince of Wales," ran on alternate days throughout the summer (a), but, after two years' experience, both again gave it up. In 1876, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, by arrangement with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company, ran a steamer from the 1st of July to the 30th of September to and from Fleetwood daily, and it has continued to do so since then.

It was in 1848 that the Company first ran a steamer -—the " Mona's Isle " (I.)—between Ramsey and Liverpool. She sailed once a week. This service was continued till 1853, when the " Manx Fairy " took it up, and after the " Manx Fairy " was sold, in October, 1861, the Company again put one of their steamers on this route.

(I) i.e. each company three times weekly


In 1861, a weekly service was instituted between Whitehaven and Ramsey, but of late years it has been fortnightly only. The services to the Clyde, Belfast, and Dublin, are of comparatively recent date.


There was, as we have seen, no regular mail service between the island and England before 1767. In that year it was carried once weekly each way by sailing vessels between Douglas and Whitehaven. This sailing vessel service continued till 1825, when it was taken up by the steamer " Triton " (a). Three years later the mail contract was given to the St. George Company. Its conditions were that the mails had to be conveyed twice weekly each way from the 1st of May to the 1st of October, and once weekly during the rest of the year. On the 11th of July, 1831, the contract was given to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, on the same terms and conditions. In 1833, a bi-weekly mail in winter was arranged for, and during and after 1834, though the Company was under no obligation to do so, the mails were carried daily in summer In 1852, there was an agitation for in creasing the number of the mails, but there was no result till 1856, when an arrangement was come to by which the mail had to be conveyed three times weekly throughout the year. In 1862, a fourth mail was taken via Ramsey, and in 1879, the present contract for a mail on every week-day was signed.

This arrangement has continued ever since then, though it is estimated that the number of letters has been quadrupled in the interval.

As regards the numbers of PASSENGERS. passengers carried by the Company, we have only very vague information before the imposition of the passenger tax in 1883 (a). It is supposed that the average annual number for the first ten years of the Company's existence was about 20,000. By 1851 it had risen to 48,000, and, twenty years later, it approached 100,000. One reason of the great increase in numbers between 1851 and 1871 may be found in the opening of the Prince's Landing Stage on the 1st of September, 1857. Prior to this, the embarking and disembarking of passengers in Liverpool was almost as dangerous and uncomfortable as in Douglas before 1871, since there was only a small pier, which could not be approached by steamers when the tide was low. At such times the passengers went to and fro in rowing boats between the steamers and a slip to the north of the present Floating :Bridge (I). A vivid idea of what the passengers endured is given in the following account, which was written in 1836:

" I shall not easily forget the scene which prefaced our safe arrival on board. It was nearly low water when we started, the packet was therefore some considerable distance from the pierhead, we had in consequence to go out to her in boats. The shouting, bawling, pulling, tearing, cursing and swearing of the different boatmen, and hired porters and partisans anxious to get the passengers on their own packets (for there was an opposition at the time) (a); the consternation, confusion, and dismay of the parties who were hurried and tumbled into the boats, to go, they scarcely enquired where; and, added to this, the busy and conflicting scene always to be observed on such a spot as the pierhead of Liverpool, surpassed anything of the kind I had ever seen " (I).

By 1883, the numbers had still further advanced to 286,418. Here again we find a special reason for it in the erection of the low-water landing pier, now called the Victoria Pier, at which, though not completed for two years later, passengers were for the first time landed on the 1st of July, 1871. Those who do not remember what the landing in Douglas at low water was before that date can have no idea of its discomforts, and, with inshore winds, of its dangers. The steamers lay rocking about in the bay, and passengers, who were taken off in boats to the Red Pier, were often wet to the skin by both sea and rain, and then had to scramble across the slippery cobble stones at the foot of the pier as best they could. By this time the position of the Isle of Man as the playground of the north of England had been so well established that in 1893 the number of passengers conveyed by the Company amounted to 516,359; and in 1903, to 711,591, the greatest total No recorded.

Before leaving this part of our subject we will refer to a very important matter for the comfort of the passengers, and that is the catering. Till about 1858, this department was managed by the captains, but by that time it had become so extensive a business that the Company was compelled to take it over. In 1889, it was sub-let to a capable Douglas firm, and we think it will be generally admitted that there are no more excellent meals served on any British Channel steamers than on those belonging to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.


The " Mona's Isle " did not at first carry cargo, but as it was speedily found desirable that the Company should undertake both cargo and passengers, she was altered, and the " Mona " built, for that purpose. Of late years, however, most of the Company's steamers have been adapted for carrying passengers only.

The earliest rates of freight we can find are dated March, 1834. They are, for the most part, much higher than the rates of the present day. In 1837, the " Monarch " Company issued rates of freight on a somewhat lower scale. We append the "Conditions of Shipment " issued by both Companies:

" The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company hereby give notice that they will not be accountable for the leakage, damage, or waste, occasioned by the insufficiency of the outward packages; breakage or waste on cheese, shipped loose; and as Steam Vessels cannot expect to be detained, all goods will be landed ore the Vessel getting into a discharged berth; and if the owners do not attend to receive them, they must remain on the quay, at their risk, as the Company will not be further responsible."

·`THE DOUGLAS, ISLE OF MAN ANI) LIVERPOOL SHIPPING COMPANY will not be accountable for any Loss or Damage that may be sustained in consequence of the ·Act of God, Fire, King's Enemies any Risk or Commotion, or from all or any of the Dangers and Accidents of the Seas, Rivers, or Navigation of whatsoever nature or kind'; nor will they be liable for any deficiency in Weights or Measures, ''or in the Gauge of Wine or Spirits, unless the same be weighed or dipped alongside the Vessels, in presence of the Masters.

All Shippers, in Liverpool, are respectfully informed that Entries for Goods in Bond, or entitled to Drawback, 'must be passed on the Tuesday, and be completed before Twelve o'Clock on Wednesday, the Day of Clearing. Parties neglecting this, And therely detaining the Vessel, will subject themselves to Demurrage.

"MARK QUAYLE & SON, 15 Nova Scotia, Liverpool,

''JNO. DUGGAN, Custom House, Quay, Douglas,


At the present day, the vessels of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company are by far the largest carriers of general cargo to and from the Island, though the greater part of such commodities as lead, grain, potatoes, turnips, and coal, is conveyed by other vessels.


With passengers and cargo, dividends are, or should be, connected. Between 1830 and 1846, the usual dividend, except during the periods of opposition, was five per cent. From 1847 to 1850 it was either two-and-a-half per cent. or nothing. From 1851 to 1861, it was again five per cent. Between 1862 and 1886, there was a period of extraordinary prosperity, the dividend and bonus amounting, as a rule, to twelve-and-a-half per cent. In 1887 and 1888, owing to the opposition, nothing was paid, since 1888 the dividend has usually been five per cent.


The price of the shares has, of course, followed the dividends. By 1856 the £25 share had risen to £35 i in 1867 it was £4I j in 1871, £47- Ten years later it was £84, and it attained the maximum of £85 in 1884. Since that time, as is well known, its direction has been downwards.


In 1830, the sum of £7,250 was subscribed for the " Mona's Isle," in 290 shares of £25; and, in 1831, there followed a subscription Of £4,750, in 190 shares of £25, for the " Mona." It does not appear how the working expenditure was provided for. In 1834, the capital of the Company was increased from £12,000 to £24,325, which was divided into 973 shares of £25 each. The first formal " Deed of Association " was drawn up on the 13th of August, 1838. We may mention that a bonus was added to the capital out of profits from time to time, which resulted in the creation of fractional parts of shares. In 1846, the capital was £40,688 j in 1864, £66,o46 j and, in 1882, £80,734. In 1884, the. fractions were adjusted, and the capital became £82,500 in 3,300 shares of £25 In 1886, 3,490 B shares of £5 and two A shares of £25 were issued (a), making the capital £I00,000 j in 1888, 50,000 C shares of £1 were added, and were followed by 50,000 more of the same denomination in 1896, thus making the total capital £200,000.

Beside the shares, £300,000 in debentures have been issued at various times, but of these £189,000 have been paid off.


We may note that the Company was registered under the Limited Liability Act in 1885; and that its officers first wore uniform in 1861.

Among miscellaneous information in the Company's Minutes, we find, in 1841, a resolution " that Mrs. Greaves, late Postmistress, be presented with a sum of £20 in testimony of the high opinion entertained by the meeting of her services."

In 1851, on the occasion of the earliest International Exhibition, the Company employed " Colonel " Johnson, an American, and the Editor of the Mona's Herald, to write a " sketch " of the Island. This was contained in a little pamphlet of thirty-two pages, of which 50,000 copies were distributed gratuitously. Eleven years later, a revised edition of 30,000 copies was published. In 1894, a picturesque account of .the Island by Mr. Hall Caine was issued by the Company.

In 1853, the shareholders voted £100 to those who had been made widows and orphans by the blowing up of the brig " Lily " by gunpowder on " Kitterland " in the previous December, when thirty Manxmen were killed; and, during the time of the Civil War in America, the shareholders voted £500 for the distressed cotton operatives in Lancashire.

In 1860, the Company undertook to contribute £1,000 to a " pile " low-water landing pier, but nothing came of this.

Claims from passengers for compensation are not infrequently found in the Minutes. The following specimen of a claim is only a little more remarkable than some which are received at the present day. A lady was the applicant, and she desired to be compensated because " of the annoyance experienced from the smell of fish and tobacco smoke on the ' Mona's Queen' (1.)." We regret to say that the Directors were ungallant enough to reply that " the application is too absurd to be deserving of a moment's consideration."

The following notice, entitled, " The Manx Steamers and the Smoke Nuisance," appeared in the Manx Sun, in 1855:

" The Liverpool papers state that the owners of the Isle of Man Steamers 'Tynwald,' Ben my-chree', 'Manx Fairy' and 'Ellan Vannin' were summoned before the Liverpool magistrates last week for infringements of the Smoke Consuming Acts.

" Mr. Wright, on behalf of the Douglas and Ramsey Companies, and Mr. Bell, on behalf of the Castletown Company, took objection on the ground that the Act did not apply to Manx steamers. The words of the Act were 'any steamers' plying on the River Mersey or from Liverpool 'to any port in the United Kingdom.' Now, he contended that the Isle of Man was no part of the United Kingdom, as it was defined in the Acts of Parliament, and therefore, there could be no jurisdiction.

"A legal discussion of nearly half-an hour's length took place between Mr. McGowan, the Clerk to the Health Committee, and the other learned gentlemen on this nice point.

" Mr. Mansfield remarked—after reference to the Act—'I am afraid, Mr. McGowan, that it is not so; the Act does not appear to include the Isle of Man, as other Acts do. I am sorry the information should only fail on account of what is certainly a mere legal quibble. The Legislature appear to have overlooked the Isle of Man, and in future, I suppose, the Manxmen will be the only people who will enjoy the proud privilege of smoking when they like.' (Laughter).

" The summonses were accordingly withdrawn.

" Mr. Wright said that he had received instructions to give every assurance that the owners of the Manx vessels would endeavour to carry out the Act as far as they possibly could."  


(a) See page 9.

(a) rd. per head.

(b) They were rowed for many years by the Company's boatman, John Waterworth, who died in 1868, at the age of 83.

(a) The " Monarch" Company.

(b) A Six Days' Tour Through the Is1e of Man. By a Stranger.

(a) The As shares, after B shares of £5 had been issued, were called shares.



Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 1999