The Paddle Steamer 'Ariel'

A scene showing shipping on the Wirral, now known as New Brighton, Liverpool. In the background is the Perch Rock Fort and Lighthouse. Other shipping is also depicted, including another paddle steamer on the left, together with smaller sailing boats.

The paddle steamer in the painting has always thought to have been the ‘Ariel’. Formerly called the ‘Arrow’ she was built in 1821-22, and went into straight into service at Dover. She was transferred to the mail service in April 1825 and it is possible that she is shown visiting Liverpool between 1825-33 en route for Ireland. The ‘Arrow’ was taken over by the admiralty 1837 and renamed ‘Ariel’. She continued to be the Dover packet until 1846. A steam packet service from Liverpool to Kingstown was commended by the PO August 1826. There were four vessels on this route, ‘Dolphin’, ‘Comet’, ‘Etna’ and ‘Thetis’ and were built large enough to enable them to compete with steamships of private companies operating from Liverpool to Ireland. Since this painting shows a furled sail behind the funnel and the riser pipe from the boiler safety valves it is more likely to be one of the larger Liverpool Post Office packets such as the ‘Lightning’ which was the first PO steam packet to be ordered from Evans of Rotherhithe in 1820.

The painting is signed and dated ‘Walters and Son 1831’.

Object Details

ID: BHC3204
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Walters, Samuel
Vessels: Ariel (1821)
Date made: 1831; unknown
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Painting: 723.9 x 1206.5 mm; Frame: 910 x 1400 mm

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