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Ship: Somersetshire
Shipping Era: Auxiliary Steamers
Voyage: 2 1878

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“The Somersetshire Times”, s.s. Somersetshire, 1878

The “Somersetshire Times” was handwritten on board ship. It was edited by Carl von Buch and the Saloon Cabin Copy was illustrated by Italian artists, P. Dattari and A. Rava. The core staff were assisted by several others and the bound collection of issues displays a wide variety of handwriting styles. Each issue was several pages long. The complete series of five issues was printed, without illustrations, on arrival in Melbourne and forwarded to subscribers as a souvenir of the voyage.

The circulation of “The Somersetshire Times” was limited in comparison to printed shipboard newspapers such as the “Marco Polo Chronicle”, but the variety of contributions and illustrations make it an interesting contrast to other shipboard newspapers. In addition to reporting shipboard events, “The Somersetshire Times” included: extracts from the Captain’s log; essays, tales and verses; riddles and acrostics; information about Melbourne and Victoria; advertisements; and a comical “weekly review” cartoon.

Two of P. Dattari’s contributions are featured here. The first is a “Chart of the course of the S.S. Somersetshire from London to Melbourne showing distance made each day”. The chart starts six days into the voyage, when the ship was off the coast of Portugal, and ends on the 23 February, the date of the last issue, three days from arrival in Melbourne. The first half of the voyage is shown here.

The second illustration is a portrait of the captain, H. Farquhar Holt. Sketches of the first officer, R.H. Parke and the surgeon, C. J. Pedley were also featured in the newspaper.

MS 7839. The Somersetshire Times: A Journal of the Voyage of the S.S. Somersetshire from London to Melbourne, via Cape of Good Hope. From 1th January to 26th February, 1878. Shipboard newspaper. 19 January 1878- 23 February 1878.
La Trobe Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria
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