Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Celebrating the Comet - Part Six

'The magazine of the Lithgow group of Companies', The Birth of the "Comet", P.11

After the wreck at Dhorus Mhor it was decided that a new steamboat would be built to replace the destroyed original.  Using shares donated by generous subscribers, the Comet 2 was finished in 1821.

It remained in service “plying the river and seas” until the 20th of October 1825 when it collided with the Ayr steamer off Kempock Point, Gourock whilst travelling from Inverness to Glasgow.  Despite being just 165 yards from shore, the majority of the passengers perished.

 It was about one o'clock in the morning but The Comet 2 had neglected to display a light and the lack of visibility caused the vessels to collide.  The Master and Pilot of The Comet 2 were among the survivors and both were charged with culpable homicide and the culpable, negligent, and reckless command, charge, and steering of the Comet.

The Master, Duncan McInnes, was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment.  The second sinking of the Comet was a terrible tragedy which spelled the end of Henry Bell’s dream and he abandoned his work on steam navigation. Unfortunately for Bell his fortunes never recovered, and he died a poor man. However his legacy lives on, not only in the form of the PS Comet, but for daring to experiment and harness steam power.

Below is an excerpt from the Glasgow Courier, 22nd October 1825.  

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