Sail v. steam. Coasters were required to record particulars of their voyages on a page at the back of the Articles (Crew Lists). Below are the details recorded on the Isabella Walker in 1891. She was a wooden brigantine of 179 registered tons, registered in Bo'ness and owned by the Captain, James Ball of Littlehampton. Then comes the record of the Ribblemere. She was a coal burning steam coaster of 489 tons gross, 221 net, registered in Liverpool and owned by the Ribble Steamship Co Ltd (John S.Sellers & Co) also of Liverpool.

Isabella Walker made 9 passages in her six month period, including one of 11 days from London to Hull (at the time of the Great Blizzard of 1891) and another of 13 days from Burry Port to Faversham (in a period of light winds, mist and fog). Ribblemere made 24 passages, 22 of them in a three month period, or some 5 times more voyages over a given time than the brigantine. Given that, it's surprising that sail survived so long in coastal waters.

My grandfather was on the Isabella Walker as Hugh Forrester, Ordinary Seaman. He was on the Ribblemere as Captain John Stevenson. Don't ask - but if you know why he changed his name please let me know. I know the family story, of course, but, so far, I have found nothing to either confirm or deny it.

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