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S/S Persia, Cunard Line Main Page >>

BurdenBuiltShipowner or operator Dimensions
3,300 gross 1855 at Glasgow by Robert Napier & Sons Cunard Line 376ft x 37.6ft 
 1855 July 3, launchedAtlantic Journey ID 1737
 1856 Made several record passages New York - LiverpoolAtlantic Journey ID 1738
 1856 Jan. 26 maiden voyage Liverpool - New YorkAtlantic Journey ID 1741
 1856 June, mizzen mast removedAtlantic Journey ID 1739
 1857 Liverpool - New YorkAtlantic Journey ID 1742
 1868 Sold, engines removedAtlantic Journey ID 1743
 1872 Scrapped at LondonAtlantic Journey ID 1740
The information listed above is not the complete record of the ship. The information was collected from a multitude of sources, and new information will be added as it emerges

(From "The Illustrated London News", Feb. 9, 1856)
This leviathan vessel, the largest steam-ship afloat in the world - far exceeding in length, strength, tonnage, and steam-power the Great Britain or the Himalaya; and exceeding also by no less than 1200 tons the internal capacity of the largest of the present splendid Cunard liners - left Liverpool on the 26th ult., commanded by Captain Judkins, the respected Commodore of the Canard Company's mail-packets, on her first voyage across the Atlantic.

Stupendous as the Persia is, the lines of beauty have been so well worked out in the preparation of her model that her appearance is singularly graceful and lightsome. Yet this mighty fabric, so beautiful as a whole, is made up of innumerable pieces of ponderous metal, welded, jointed, arid riveted into each other with exceeding deftness. The framing of the ship is very heavy. The space between each frame is only 10 inches, and the powerful frames, or ribs, are themselves 10 inches deep, with double angle irons at the outer and inner edges. The bow is constructed in a manner at once peculiar and affording the greatest possible strength to this important part of the ship. The framing is so placed to the stern that the effect is that, in the case of collision with other ships, or with rocks, or icebergs, the strain would fall upon the very strongest material within the structure, and the Persia would have a good chance of safety and successful resistance while ordinary vessels would be in great peril. She is not clinker-built, as some ships have been constructed of late. The plates or outer planking of the ship, so to speak, are laid alternately, so that one adds strength to the other, and they form a whole of wonderful compactness and solidity. The keel-plates are 11-l6ths of an inch in thickness; at the bottom of the ship the plates are 15-16ths of an inch in thickness; from this section to the load water-line they are ¾ths of an inch; and above this they are 11-16ths of an inch in thickness. The plates round the gunwale are 7ths of an inch in thickness.

The Persia has seven water-tight compartments. The goods are stowed in two of these divisions - each about 90 feet long by 16 in breadth, and 20 feet in height. These goods stores, or rather tanks, are placed in the centre line of the ship, with the coal-cellars, or bunkers, on each side of them. At the same time the vessel is so constructed as to have in reality a double bottom under these goods chambers, so that if the outer were beat in or injured the inner would, in all likelihood, protect the cargo dry and intact. The chambers are perfectly water tight; and in the event of accident to the hull these tanks would of themselves float the ship. This liner has two engines, and eight large tubular boilers and two funnels; and we need only speak of her machinery in general, as being first clam. The firing apace for the boilers is placed in the fore and aft line, instead of across the ship, as is usually the case with smaller vessels.

She has separate sleeping accommodation for 260 passengers, disposed along what may be called the main deck, lying immediately above the goods and coal stores. These cabins have each 8 feet 6 inches of head-room; and, coupled with the excellent system of ventilation introduced into all the Cunard liners, we need scarcely say that they will be alike pleasant, airy, and healthful. Exclusively of the wholesome accommodation for the officers and engineers, there are in the forward part of the ship about 120 berths for the sailing crew, firemen, and stokers. The total number of persons employed in working the ship, from the captain downwards, is 150. Above the main deck there is a deck-house covered in, the roof of which affords a promenade from stem to stern. It contains the main dining saloon, about 60 feet in length, by 20 feet in width, and 8 feet in height. It is copiously lighted from the sides by plates of glass placed in the alternate panels. In front is that important adjunct, the pantry, which has about 300 square feet of area; and before the funnel is the kitchen, of equal size, with its cooking-ranges, exceeding most and equaling any of the culinary establishments of the most extensive and noted hotels in the kingdom. But we have not space to enter further into detail than to say that on this deck and below it are also to be found the bakery, the butcher's shambles, the carpenter's workshop, the lamp-house, the doctor's shop, the icehouse, the bath rooms, &c.

The weight of the iron in the Persia, when launched, was 2100 tons; with the engines and fully loaded the weight of the immense mass will be 5400 tons, at which time she will draw 23 feet of water. Her coal cellars are constructed to receive 1400 tons of coal - an ample supply to carry her on her voyage across the Atlantic as fast as she can burn them. She has also accommodation for about 1300 tons measurement of goods.

In the ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS of the 14th of July last we gave a sketch of the launch of this vessel and the intervening period has been fully occupied in laying her machinery, and fitting her out as the most magnificent floating hotel and goods-transport that has ever breasted the waters. Her chief proportions may be summed up as follows:

Length from figurehead to taffrail - 390 feet
Length in the water - 360 feet
Breadth of the hull - 45 feet
Breadth over all - 71 feet
Depth - 32 feet
Burden - 3,600 tons
Diameter of paddlewheels - 40 feet.

According to the strict Government rules of admeasurement, her power is equal to that of 900 horses; according to the plan laid down in the Earl of Hardwicke's bill, her power is equal to that of 1200 horses; and according to James Watt's o1d established rule of 33 000Ib, to the horse, she is expected to work up to the pitch of between 4000 and 5000 horses.

The Persia has been constructed entirely by Messrs. Robert Napier and Sons, of Glasgow, and in the trip from Greenock to Liverpool her performance gave the greatest satisfaction. With from 20 lb. to 21 lb. of pressure upon the square inch, she easily made 18½ statute miles an hour, while the paddles gave 17¾ to 18 revolutions in the minute. She accomplished the distance from the Clock Lighthouse to the Bell Buoy, a distance of 175 knots, or 203 miles, in 10 hours and 43 minutes, making an average speed of 16 knots, or 19 miles an hour.

Persia, Cunard Line steamship
The S/S Persia from an old engraving in The Illustrated London News, 1856.
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Persia, Cunard Line steamship
S/S Persia after her mizzen mast was removed
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