Ganges I (ship)

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Ganges I was the first of a number of Nourse Line ships named for the river in northern India regarded as holy by the Hindus. It followed a number of other ships of the same name.

The first Nourse Line ship was the 839 ton sailing ship, Ganges built by William Pile of Sunderland and launched on 9 July 1861. The 192 feet (59 m) long, 33.2 feet (10.1 m) wide and 20.6 feet (6.3 m) deep Ganges was considered a large vessel for her time and had a figurehead beneath the bowsprit represented Mother Ganges a symbol of fertility. She was the first of many Nourse Line vessels to be named after rivers. Immediately after being built, the Ganges sailed to India to commence trading between Calcutta and Australia where James Nourse hired her out to Tinne & Company which were involved in the transport of sugar, coffee, rum and molasses and slaves.

As the Nourse Line went into the business of transporting Indian indentured labourers to the West Indies, the Ganges made four voyages to Trinidad, the first on 9 April 1872 transported 408 labourers of whom 6 died on the voyage. The second trip on 11 May 1874 transported 383 labourers (5 deaths), the third on 10 February 1876 carried 379 passengers (3 deaths) and the fourth on 5 February 1878 carryied 477 passengers (14 deaths).[1] She also made a trip to St Lucia and on the return journey in 1867 brought 451 repatriated labourers back to India.[2]

She was a fast ship covering the distance between British Guiana and Cape Town in 42 days. Howeve, lengthening her by 35 feet (11 m) and increasing her tonnage from 839 to 1161 reduced her speed. On 14 October 1881, she was wrecked on Goodwin Sands off Kent, on route from Middlesbrough to Calcutta with railway iron, with the loss of 3 lives.[3]

See also



Lubbock, Basil (1981). Coolie ships and oil sailors. Brown, Son & Ferguson. ISBN 0-85174-111-8. 

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