[From Manx Quarterly, #91910]
In connection with the taking over of the new twin-screw steamer Snaefell by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Limited, from the builders, Messrs Cammell, Laird, and Co., Limited, the trial trip of the vessel took place on July 25th. The Snaefell, which had been brought out of the builders' dock, left the Mersey with a party consisting of the builders' representatives and the directors and principal officials of the Steam Packet Company on board. The directors who undertook the trip were Messrs Dalrymple Maitland (chairman), F. J. Baldwin, W. .A. Waid, R. T. Curphey, C. T. Hughes-Games, W. H. Kitto, and J. G. Elliot, with them being Messrs W. M. Corkill (secretary and manager) and C. J. Blackhurn (superintendent engineer). The Snaefell proceeded under easy steam to the Bar Lightship, and thence at full speed to Douglas Bay. The fifty-six knots run was accomplished in under three hours, the, guaranteed speed of nineteen knots per hour [sic] being fully maintained. On arrival in the bay, several rocket signals were discharged frown the vessel, which was then put about and returned to the Bar Lightship at the rate of nineteen knots per hour. The wind was from north-west and in force almost approached a gale In reaching the Bar, the Snaefell was manoeuvred in every direction. with a view to compass adjustment, and thus a splendid test was afforded of her weatherly qualities. She came through this portion of her trial in superb fashion, her movement, whatever the aspect of the heavy sea, being wonderfully easy. Subsequently the new steamer was taken to Liverpool and docked prior to being handed over to the owners
After her trial trip on Monday, the Snaefell was duly taken over by the directors of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, and on Thursday, July 28th, she made her first service trip, this maiden voyage with paying passengers being from Liverpool to Douglas. Many people crossed from Douglas by the Prince of Wales in the morning with the object of returning by the new steamer, and included among them were two gentlemen who have during the month of July made the remarkable record of covering four thousand odd miles on the vessels of the isle of Man Steam Packet Company. One of these mighty travellers is ninety-one years old. but so well-preserved is he, and so active of habit; that he might well pass for little more than half his age. The other, his nephew, is a mere youngster of eighty! Conjecture was rife on the Prince of Wales as to the potentialities of the Snaefell. and in this connection the past performances of the Prince of Wales were discussed. There was a general consensus of opinion that the new steamer would have to be a marvel to equal the great record of the Prince and of her sister ship, the Queen Victoria, during the last twenty-four years. And when it is taken into consideration that the two famous paddle ships have been in commission since the early part of the summer of 1887, the regularity and speed of their present-day passages are, indeed, matter for wonder and congratulation. These steammers have their original boilers and engines, all in splendid condition. After the lapse of well-nigh quarter of a century they are still capable of covering thus eighty miles or so of sea which separates Liverpool from Douglas in under four hours. On Thursday, the Prince of Wales left Douglas at nine o'clock in the morning and was alongside the Prince's Landing Stage, Liverpool, before one o'clock p.m. So speedy was her progress from the Bar to the Stage that the passengers had barely time to do justice to the excellent dinner which the chief steward, Mr Clegg, had caused to be served. When the Prince of Wales came up to the Stage, it was observed from her deck that the Snaefell was at anchor in the river, in readiness to take the 2-45 p.m. sailing from Liverpool to Douglas.
Over five Hundred persons boarded the Snaefell on the occasion of her maiden service trip. Gaily dressed with bunting, the new steamer was a conspicuous object as she lay alongside the Landing Stage, and the cognoscenti who gathered to watch her departure were unstinted in their admiration of her noble appearance. She was announced to leave at a quarter to three in the afternoon. but shipment of fruit and vegetables occasioned delay, and it was not until two minutes past three o'clock, according to the clock an the Victoria Tower, that the mooring ropes were. at the instance of Capt. Bridson, commander of the new steamer, cast off. The Sneafell had been moored with her stern to the stream and so no time was last in getting away. A goodly crowd had assembled on the Landing Stage to see her off, including many well-known members of the Manx community in Liverpool. The conditions were, on the whole, favourable, there being a light breeze from S.S.E., an almost smooth sea, and slack water. By the time the Snaefell reached the Bar she began to feel the ebb tide under her, and such assistance as it could give she had from that point to well nigh Douglas. At five minutes past three the Clock Tower was passed, and at 3-13 the vessel was abreast the Rock Lighthouse. In accordance with the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board regulations, the Snaefell had up to now proceeded under easy steam, but once the Rock was reached she was opened out, though in consequence of the shallowness of the water full speed could not be attained until the Bar was passed. At 3-32 Crosby Lightship was passed, and soon afterwards the Snaefell gave the Princess Thyra, a, Glasgow passenger steamer, the go-by in fine style. Formby Lightship was left behind at 3-42; twelve-and-a-half minutes later the Bar was passed, and then came appreciable acceleration. The vessel moved along sweetly, and so easily did she cleave the sea that the passengers might have been on firm, earth for all the vibration felt. There was no seasickness among the passengers. all of whom united in expressing delight and satisfaction with the craft which was carrying them so pleasantly. There was, too, a chorus of praise concerning the arrangements and appointments of the new steamer. "A veritable palace," was the unanimous verdict, and the verdict was well deserved, for certainly there is not a passenger steamer afloat in horse waters which can approach the Snaefell in the matters of convenience if construction, and comfort and luxury of fittings. On board were the following directors of the Steam Packet Company:-Messrs D. Maitland (chairman), F. J. Baldwin, W. A. Waid, C. T. Hughes-Games, and W. H. Kitto. Mr W. M. Corkill, secretary and manager of the company, was also aboard, as were Mr C. J. Blackburn, superintendent engineer to the company, and Mr Jas. Ritchie, head of the catering department. A notable passenger was Miss Daisy Baldwin, the youthful niece of Mr F. J. Baldwin, who performed the naming ceremony on the occasion of the Snaefell's launch: At 5-22 the Ben-my-Chree, which was the four o'clock steamer from Douglas to Liverpool, was passed, and by way of salutation the flags of both vessels were dipped and both exchanged blasts of their none too harmonious steam whistles. The passengers, too, cheered lustily, and waved hats and kerchiefs vigorously as they crowded to the sides of the steamers. At this time the Snaefell's engines were making 166 revolutions per minute, which gave her a speed of slightly over nineteen knots per hour. This was the highest speed attained, the revolutions as a rule working out at from 166 to 164 per minute. Speculation grew rife as to whether Douglas would be reached by seven o'clock, optimists and pessimists being about equally divided. The Island was obscured by a rather thick haze, and it was not until within a quarter of an hour of the completion of the voyage that the Manx mountains were discerned. Towards the end, anxiety as to the duration of the passage grew, but at the right time diversion was occasioned by a seagull, which settled on the fore-truck, and from this giddy point of vantage appeared to regard the somewhat excited passengers in reproachful fashion. The bird, having thus calmly appropriated a free ride of some miles distance, and incidentally furnished the paying passengers with considerable entertainment, flew away just as the booming of guns announced that Douglas was welcoming tire latest acquisition of the port in the way of passenger steamers. At 6 55 p.m. when almost abreast Douglas Head lighthouse, the Snaefell was slowed, and three minutes later she, gorgeous in her array of new bunting, was brought up at the Victoria Pier. Salutes of guns and a noisy chorus from the steam whistles and syrens of the steamers lying at piers welcomed the new steamer, and a huge crowd, which had gathered to see her in, cheered lustily, the passengers returning the compliment. Capt. Bridson, in masterly fashion, berthed his ship, and the mooring having been smartly accomplished. the gangways were got out and the passengers disembarked. The first of them to step on to the pier was the gentleman of ninety-one summers who has during July used his contract ticket to such effect - the four thousand miles a month traveller. Throughout, the passage was a most pleasant one; the Snaefell behaved magnificently, and she was handled in superb fashion by Capt. Bridson, his officers, and crew. Deserving of special mention were the excellent catering arrangements, which Were in charge of Mr John King, the chief steward. The distance of seventy knots between Liverpool Landing Stage and Douglas Pier was covered by the Snaefell on this, the occasion of her maiden service voyage, in three hours and fifty-six minutes. It is, however, the custom to take the time as from the Rock Lighthouse to Douglas Head-sixty-eight knots-and the passage between these points was made in three hours and forty-two minutes. From the Bar Lightship to Douglas Head -fifty-six knot;-the time occupied was three hours and thirty seconds, or just wider nineteen knots per hour.
Over thirty years ago, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company went to the famous firm of Laird's, of Birkenhead, for the first screw-propelled vessel in the company's fleet. This steamer-the Mona, was in her day about the most useful craft possessed by the company, and during the few years she remained in service she gained golden opinions for her regularity of running and economical maintenance Eventually the Mona came to an untimely end-she was run down and sunk while at anchor in the Mersey, and it may be that this stroke of ill-luck has unconsciously influenced the company during the intervening years in avoiding the great Birkenhead builders what time a new steamer was required. If this be so, the spell has been broken, for when the directors of the Manx shipping concern decided last year upon getting built an additional vessel, to be mainly devoted to the winter passenger and cargo service, they, after consideration, elected to let the contract for construction to Messrs Cammell, Laird, and Co., Ltd. In due course the vessel was built in the Tranmere yard, and last February the hull was launched, the naming ceremony being performed by Miss Daisy Baldwin, niece to Mr F J. Baldwin, one of the directors of the Steam Packet Co., who declared that the new craft should be known as Snaefell. Early in June the Snaefell-she is the third of the name in the company's records-was completed, and was ready for trial. Unfortunately, in connection with what is termed the builders' trial, there was a mishap to the machinery, which resulted in the ship having to be taken back by the builders for remedy. The defect was made good, and the Snaefell having emerged triumphantly from the ordeal of a stiff Board of Trade examination, was declared by the marine authorities to be as perfect as the skill of man could contrive. And so, as has been mentioned, she on Monday accomplished o successful trial, and on Thursday went into commission, under Capt. Bridson, on the Liverpool-Douglas station.
The Snaefell is well worth going through. A better designed and constructed craft it is impossible to conceive. Her designers in connection with her construction had to he governed by such considerations as effective combination of passenger accommodation and cargo space, sufficient lightness of draught to allow Douglas inner harbour to be entered and left on neap tides, and weatherly qualities and reasonable speed. Mr C. J. Blackburn (supt. engineer of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co.) and Capt. Keig, commodore of the company's fleet, collaborated with the experts employed by the builders in designing the new craft, and the result of their collaboration is perhaps the most comfortable and useful passenger and cargo vessel ever sent into the home trade. Possibly the most noteworthy feature in connection with the arrangement of the Snaefell is to be found in the very comfortable and spacious accommodation provided for second class, or steerage, passengers. It is not too much to say that a very few years ago saloon passengers would have thought themselves well off in quarters as good as the Snaefell's steerage. These second class passengers will not in the slightest degree be incommoded by deck cargo or cattle, while the lavatory and sanitary provision is as good as could possibly be made. Turning to the details of the new steamer, the following are her dimensions:-Length between perpendiculars, 20 feet; beam, 41ft. 6in.; depth moulded to shelter deck, 24ft. 3in. She is built to Lloyds highest classification. The loading draft will be 12 feet mean The water-tight sub-divisions have been carefully designed; and there are seven water-tight bulkheads extending up to the main deck. A cellular bottom is fitted for carrying water ballast when in the summer service. The vessel is fitted with twin-screws, and the engines are of the direct-acting inverted triple expansion type with four cylinders, and are constructed for a working pressure of 1951bs. per square inch. They are of a very high class type, being made to pass birth Board of Trade and Lloyds requirements, as usual in the Isle of Man Company's service. The condensers are of Weir's " Uniflux " design, and all the auxiliary machinery is of the most modern description. In order to minimise vibration, the engines are balanced on the Yarrow-Schlick-Tweedy system, while the quick reversing of the engines is accomplished by a combined steam and hydraulic gear of Brown's latest design. Every endeavour has been made in the design to ensure a cool engine room, and to prevent the unpleasantness caused by the hot air arising into the passenger accommodation. The boilers, four in number; are of the ordinary single-ended marine type, and are worked under forced draught on the closed stokehold system.
So much for the dimensions and machinery, and now as to the provision for passengers and cargo. Starting with the navigation or bridge deck-"Holy Island" the sailors term it-there is fitted on this the extremity of the vessel's superstructure -the latest pattern of Admiralty telegraphs which communicate with the engine-room, and have automatic indicators attached to the bridge, which apprise the officer in charge whether the engines are driving ahead or astern. Also, there are two bow and stern telegraphs, and the well-appointed wheel-house is fitted with McTaggart's telemotor gear and an indicator to notify whether the side-lights are alight or extinct. On the top of the wheel-house is affixed a standard compass From the navigating deck is approached the captain's room--a veritable boudoir, luxuriously fitted and upholstered, the colour scheme being blue. This deck is on the same level as the boat deck, whereon are kept ready for launching the ship's boats, sufficient in number and so equipped and arranged as to ensure almost instantaneous readiness for service. In this connection, it is well here to state that all the Board of Trade requirements as to lifeboats, lifebelts, and other apparatus for use in case of accident, have been more than complied with. Coming to the spacious promenade deck for saloon passengers, the saloon anteroom is fitted with mahogany framing and oak panels, with a floor of interlacing rubber tiles, and around it is comfortable seating. The lades' cabin (first class) is fitted in Hungarian ash and mahogany, and is upholstered and hung in silk tapestry. Leading from it is admirable lavatory accommodation for ladies. The chief officer's room and purser's room are on opposite sides, and there are on this deck four magnificent state-rooms of ample size and luxurious appointments. The fittings of those are in walnut, with Chippendale mouldings, and the upholstery and hangings ate in blue silk tapestry. Each state-room is supplied with complete lavatory accommodation, hat racks, electric light and bells, adjustable mirrors, and numerous other conveniences. Leading from the shelter deck-the deck immediately below the promenade deck is the first class dining saloon, a most exquisite apartment both as to proportion and settings This saloon, which is situated forward may also be approached by a wide fight of stairs from the promenade deck. The saloon floor is of oak parquetorie It has dining accommodation, for ninety persons on the separate parties system and in winter can be so arranged as to afford sleeping accommodation for 42. On each side are a number of alcoves, which by a system of removable bulkheads and sliding doors, are convertible into state-rooms fitted in exactly aimilar fashion to those on the main deck. In the summer the alcoves can be rendered private by the drawing of curtains. The saloon pillars are hexagonal with carved capitals a mahogany. The fittings are of ash and mahogany, and the upholstery and hangings are of the finest material. There is a fine cupboard for silver and a massive sideboard, to which are fitted a dock and a barometer. The saloon is supplied with writing and cash desks conveniently placed. There are on the floor " runners" of Axminster carpet. The ceiling panels are a new -departure, in that they are portable and drop down singly. They are painted in flat white. relieved with gold lines. The electric light fittings axe plated in silver on white metal.
The dining-room pantry is fitted with a hot water boiler, plate racks, hot press, a lift from the galley, sinks, etc. Near to the dining saloon is a. cloak-room for the convenience of passengers who desire to deposit, coats and small articles of luggage.
The smoke-room is on the shelter deck, almost amidships. It is a spacious and handsome compartment panelled in Oak, and with lounges and chairs of the most comfortable character. It is fitted with a roomy service bar in oak. The design of this roomy is a very beautiful one, and it does great credit to the artistic sense and technical knowledge of its author, Mr John Halsall, the capable chief carpenter in the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co.'s service. On the shelter deck, too, is the ticket office. Separated by a barrier on the shelter deck from the saloon portion of the ship is the second class part of the chip, and as it is approached, the great hatches lending access to the cargo space are observed, as is also- the lower part of the steel mastes, the pitchpine derricks, and the Wilson winches. The windlass and steering gear are of Hanfield's make, and the latter is controlled by the McTaggart-Scott telemotor.
A comfortably-fitted entrance leads to the ladies' cabin (second class), fitted with oak framing and ash panels. There is sleeping- accommodation for twenty ladies. The berths are of the "turn-up" character and are fitted with springs, as are all the berths throughout the ship. The floor is covered wii h linoleum, with carpet runners, and the ceiling is in white relieved with gold lines. There is a ladies' lavatory attached to this cabin.
On the main deck aft is the general steerage cabin fitted in mahogany and grained maple. There is a plentiful provision of electric light and of mirrors. This cabin will dine 22 and sleep 47. Near to it are the lavatories, which are excellently appointed and are quite distinct from those provided for saloon passengers. Conveniently situated, too is the second class pantry and buffet and bar. On the lower deck, right aft, is the stewards, " glory hole," or sleeping room. There are three holds floored with a special preparation. The lavatories far saloon passengers are on the main deck; the sailors and firemen are berthed forward on the main deck, and the engineers, second officer, carpenter, and chief steward have their rooms on this deck amidships The galley or kitchen is right under the dining saloon pantry, and there is a separate galley for the crew. the fittings for live stock do not interfere in any way with passengers, and are removable, so as to afford more promenade room in summer.
On the lower deck forward is the main cabin for saloon passengers, fitted in mahogany. with flat, white ceilings relieved with gold lines. It sleeps 68, find tihy berths are so curtained as to ensure privacy. There is plentiful provision of electric light, mirrors, and lavatory basins, and the upholstery is in sea and myrtle green. Underneath the stairs by which this saloon is approached from the main deck is a large linen locker. it should be mentioned that a very happy arrangement of shelters and nooks on the promenade and main decks ensures that passengers may during the winter remain practically in the open, protected from the weather and sea, no matter how the wind may blow. There is on the vessel ample cold storage provision-a desideratum on board during the summer -and of other conveniences for the caterers.
All the cabins and rooms are supplied with steam radiators, allowing of the ready regulation of the temperature during the winter. The ventilation arrangements are magnificent, consisting as they do of electrically-driven fans, with sufficient inlet and outlets. So excellent is the ventilation that there cannot possibly be in any of the rooms that close and objectionable smell which in most passenger steamers has such terrors for voyagers.
The closets and lavatories are of Shanks make, which is the most sanitary known, and the taps are all non-concussive of character. All the cabins and all the lavatories, galleys, etc., are supplied with hot water as well as cold water, and in this respect the Snaefell is unique. The electric lights in all the cabins are fitted with green baize covers, readily adjustable, for the purpose of subduing the light when necessary.
Teak wood is used for the shelter and main decks, the other decks being laid in yellow pine. The stairways are all fitted with non-slipping rubber treads. Generally the saloon ind upholstery is in silk tapestry and moquette, while repp is employed for the steerage. The carpets are of Axminster and velvet pile.
The Snaefell is well-manned in all departments. In command is Captain Bridson, a courageous yet careful and skilful navigator ; the first officer is Mr Robert Clucas, who by merit and industry has risen to the responsible position which he holds - Mr Wesley Clague is the second officer; while Mr George Kenna. and Mr Robert Lewin are respectively first :and second engineers. The purser is Mr Stanley Cain, and the chief steward is Mr John King, who has during his 23 years' service with .he company earned golden opinions from the travelling public. The Snaefell's passenger carrying capacity is about 1,600.