Born in the small rural village of Torphichen, West Lothian in 1767, Henry Bell was the pioneer in the development of steam powered nautical travel. Such was his interest in steam powered shipping that, in 1800, he composed a letter to the British Admiralty, highlighting his vision for the future of the shipping industry; however his notion was hastily rejected.
Not to be deterred by this set back, Bell composed a similar letter in 1803, highlighting the same issues and improvements that had previously been outlined. Unfortunately for Bell, his attempts at revolutionising shipping in Britain fell on deaf ears, despite the appraisal of the highly decorated Lord Nelson.
After futile attempts to implement his idea in Britain, Bell opted to promote his idea in the United States of America, the result of which was met with a great degree of success, inspiring Bell to try to implement his model for a steam powered ship on home soil.
It was while drawing up the plans for his own vessel that Bell came in to correspondence with Messrs John Wood and Co, whom he contracted to build the hull of the boat.
The next post in our countdown to the Comet’s historic bicentennial will focus on John Wood Snr and his sons, John Wood Jnr and Charles.