Tod & Macgregor Shiplist









Paddle Steamer


Story of the Sinking












Wooden Paddle Steamere


Hull & Leith Steam Packet Company


Sank after striking Goldstone Rocks Wednesday, 19th July 1843

Points of Note:


Date of Launch:



          Long before the railways the best way to travel from Edinburgh to London was by sailing packet. By 1840 marine steam engine technology had reached a state where reliability was such that steam driven vessels could be used on passenger services.


Pegasus was a fine modern vessel 132 feet 4 inches long, 18 feet 5½ inches in the beam and with a depth in the hold of 11 feet 1 inch. She was schooner rigged with sails and her smokestack rose high above her one and a quarter decks. Her engines had been made by Messrs. Tod & Macgregor of Mavisbank Glasgow. The vessel was luxuriously appointed and fixtures and fittings were of the very best quality and elegance. She had deluxe commodious and ornate accommodation including four lavishly furnished family staterooms under the quarter deck at the stern of the vessel. The owners claimed that ‘the sumptuous, yet chaste, style of finish, and commodious division of cabins, has been greatly admired.’


Pegasus was designed to represent the very best in modern travel in terms of speed, comfort and safety...the equivalent of supersonic air travel in present times. She was to be the flagship of the prospering Hull and Leith Steam Packet Company and was confidently expected to turn in a handsome profit for owners and shareholders.


Pegasus was built on the Clyde by Robert Barclay of Glasgow who was also originally part-owner with Thomas Barclay. She was launched in 1835. They transferred shares to the first master Robert Cook.


          The vessel was registered No 67 in the Port of Glasgow on 13th December 1835 and registration particulars entered in Lloyd’s Register of Shipping (P No 130/9) July 1836 read:

“Pegasus steamer, master R. Cook, 130 tons, built Glasgow 1835, owners Hull & Leith Steam Packet Company, belonging to port of Leith, destined voyage Clyde-Hull; classification A1’


Underneath the entry were the fascinating abbreviations: ‘ pt.IB MC O.E. R.P’... .which meant ‘part iron bolts, machinery certified, oak elm red pine’.


On 1st January 1836 the press advertising in Hull stated that a new rapid service between the Humber port and Leith was to commence and would call at the intermediate ports of Scarborough and Whitby. ‘The new S.P. Pegasus (Capt. R. Cook)’ was expected to make the voyage in 24 hours. It was also announced that ‘a new steamship (Martello) will shortly also be put on station.’


On 22nd January 1836 it was reported that the magnificent Pegasus had successfully undergone her sea-trials and that during a two hour run on the Clyde to Greenock she ‘beat one of the fastest vessels on the river’. Everything was satisfactory and Messrs. Barclay handed over the splendid vessel to the proud new owners. Pegasus with Captain Cook in command made her maiden voyage from the Clyde northwards around the top of Scotland to be welcomed at her home port of Leith ready to begin her service. During the passage eastwards through the notorious Pentland Firth Captain Cook encountered some ‘very boisterous weather’. Pegasus proved herself to be ‘a very seaworthy and fast vessel’. She would need to be for her future encounters with North Sea weather.


          On Saturday 6th February 1836 Pegasus made her first commercial voyage inaugurating the regular fast service sailing between Hull and Leith and the return voyage on Wednesday 10th February 1836. The Company advertised its intention of providing a twice-weekly reliable service leaving Hull on Wednesday and Saturday. Fares were set at 30 shillings first class and 15 shillings second class. Steward Service would cost an extra 2 shillings.


On 19th February 1836 Pegasus made the run from Hull to Leith in 26 hours. It was not long before fierce competition became evident and the St. George Steam Packet Company of Hull set up as a rival in the Hull-Leith trade. Thos S. Pim, the Hull agent, was undercutting by offering fares of 5 shillings first class and 3 shillings second class. The St. George (Captain Moffatt) powered by two 55HP engines by Fawcett & Preston of Liverpool was claimed to be superior to the single-engined Pegasus.


To counter this threat the Hull & Leith Steam Packet Company issued a statement in July 1836 indicative of the cut-throat nature of the competition :

‘....the most elegant steam packet ‘Pegasus’, only six months old with absolutely new engines and two boilers continues to trade regularly between Hull and Leith. Her machinery undoubtedly possesses great advantages over engines constructed over 15 years ago, and the peculiar safety of the improved double-acting engines is well known to all practical men. Puffs to the disadvantage of the ‘Pegasus’ come very badly from vessel which has regularly been beaten here and elsewhere, and which has only second-hand engines saved from a wreck; moreover, accidents most frequently arise from defective boilers ...the Pegasus, however, has two duplicate boilers, new and unscorched. She makes the passage regularly in the short period of 26 hours.


Robert Cook remained in command until some time in 1840 when and in an advertisement of sailing times dated Wednesday 27th May 1840 the master is given as Captain John Brown. In that year the vessel was re-decked.


An entry in Lloyd’s Register for 1841 read:

‘Name Pegasus, master J. Brown, 130 tons, Glasgow 1835, owners Hull & Leith Steam Packet Company, Abn. Leith; 6A1/4O’


Again cryptic abbreviations under the entry read: C. - ptC. PH, 39pt I.B.MC. 40 E.O. & RP DRp 39pt ND. & S rprs 40....which can be decoded as ‘Coppered...part coppered, patent hair in 1839, iron bolts, machinery certified 1840, elm oak and red pine, damage repaired 1839, new deck and some repairs 1840.’


The damage and repairs referred to an incident reported in the Scotsman on Wednesday 8th May 1839 ‘Pegasus...early on Friday morning last, during a dense fog...the vessel which left Hull on Wednesday evening, struck a rock about a mile to the west of St. Monance and became so leaky that for the safety of all on board, she was obliged to be run ashore at the latter place.... (passengers and some cargo) landed safely... expected to get off next day’. The vessel was a long way off course as she ran aground on the north side of the Firth of Forth when her track should have taken her along the south passage.

By 1841 the Hull & Leith Steam Packet Company had prospered sufficiently to continue the service with Pegasus, Glen Albyn or the Martello. Some time in late 1840 Alexander Miller had assumed command of Pegasus.


What can be seen today by divers: Research Report on SSPegasus.pdf