© Sunderland Maritime Heritage,  registered charity in England and Wales (1089465)

PROBABLY THE GREATEST TALL SHIP TO SAIL THE OCEANS.
SHE WAS BUILT IN SUNDERLAND IN 1875 BY JAMES LAING SHE WAS THE MIGHTY TORRENS.

Article by Jack Curtis

It was in the spring of 1875 that Captain Henry Robert Angel, the commodore of the Elders, Smith And Co, shipping line, came north to Sunderland to oversee the building of a new clipper ship, which was to be constructed largely to his own specification. He was the major share holder in the costs for building her, and had played a great part in her design, he would act as supervisor for The Elders Line, whilst she was under Construction at the yard of James Laing at Deptford here in Sunderland.

 

The original design of the clipper was American and the first of this class was launched at Baltimore USA in 1832. She was named the Ann Mckim of some 494 tons, and proved the design to everyone's total satisfaction, but was of an all wood construction.

 

The ship showed such good sailing qualities and speed, that she was soon copied and our own William Pile brought the design to Wearside, then started building here. The basic design was for a sharply raked stem, a counter stern, and she was square rigged, carrying three masts, fore, main, and mizzen.

 

In the year 1863 the first major design change took place, and this was the introduction of the composite clipper, which was built around a steel frame, to carry an outer hull of teak cladding, which gave the ship tremendous strength. The clipper was so much faster than the old East India men, out sailing them on the great voyages from India and china, with tea and other cargo's, she was also used for the opium trade in the far east, last but not least the ship was perfect for our great Australia runs.   This was the route that The Torrens was built for, the most hazardous route in the world, it was here she would make her mark, which was to intrigue writers and historians alike, down the generations since her great record breaking runs.

 

Her basic specification shows she was of some 1276 tons burthen, with a length of 222 ft (68m), Her beam or width was 38Ft (12m), while her draught was 21ft 6in (6.55m), and her sail plan was clipper. She was equipped to carry only 1st and 2nd class passengers, plus a variety of cargo's, and carried many famous passengers in her long and illustrious career.

She was launched by Miss Flores Angel the eldest daughter of her captain and owner on the 28TM October 1875, and her figurehead was modelled on this beautiful young woman by the brilliant carver Joseph Melvin.