Orient, c. 1860
United Kingdom
OperatorOrient Line
Port of registryUnited Kingdom Portsmouth, UK
BuilderThomas Bible Shipbuilding
LaunchedDecember, 1853
In service1857
Out of service1877
FateBroken up in 1925
General characteristics
TypePacket ship
Displacement1,032 t (1,016 long tons; 1,138 short tons)
Length184.4 ft (56.2 m)
Beam31.7 ft (9.7 m)
Depth21.1 ft (6.4 m)
Sail plan3 masts

Orient was a clipper ship that traded between England and Adelaide from 1857 to 1877, and from which the Orient Line drew its name.


Orient was a clipper ship of 1,032 tons, built in 1853 by Thomas Bilbe at Nelson Dock, Cuckold's Point, for Anderson, Thompson and Co. (formerly James Thompson and Co).[1]

Shipbroker James Thomson or Thompson in 1797 founded his fleet of sailing ships, which was carried on for several generations. James Anderson joined the company in 1897 and eventually became senior partner. His nephew, also named James Anderson, joined the company in 1828. The company was renamed Anderson, Thompson and Co. in 1854, and in 1869 became Anderson, Anderson and Co.
Orient had a registered tonnage of 1,032 tons, and was 184.4 feet (56.2 m) long, with a beam of 31.7 feet (9.7 m) and a depth of 21.1 feet (6.4 m). Her hull was a composite of wood on an iron frame, and she had three masts. Beneath a 61 feet (19 m) poop she was fitted with cabin space, not designed into any earlier Bilbe design.

She was launched in London, December, 1853, and first served as "troopship 78" in 1854, conveying military equipment and personnel of the 88th Foot to the Crimea. She was fortunate to survive a storm that wrecked some 30 ships at Balaklava with the loss of over a thousand lives.[2] She served as a hospital ship 1855–1856.

She had been built as a "packet" to carry prospectors to the Australian goldfields, but her first voyage to the antipodes was not until 1856, when she sailed under Captain A. Lawrence to Sydney; in 1857 she sailed direct from Portsmouth to Adelaide and made similar trips every year until 1877. It was at the inauguration of a liner service to Australia in 1861 that the company began trading as "The Orient Line of Packets", commonly referred to as the "Orient Line".

She was nearly destroyed by fire in January 1862 during the return voyage from Adelaide. A Dutch ship was standing by to rescue those on board, and the captain and crew could have left the ship, but resolutely over the course of a day brought the fire under control, and she was able to limp into Ascension for temporary repairs. Captain Lawrence, his officers and crew were handsomely rewarded by the insurance underwriters for their efforts.

Her second commander was Captain Harris, under whom she made some of her fastest passages from Plymouth to Port Adelaide, notably 72 days in 1866. Subsequent skippers were Roland De Steiger 1868–1871, W. H. Mitchell 1873–1876, and Martin Haffner 1876–1878.[3]

In 1879 she was sold to Cox Brothers of Waterford, Ireland, and made many trips for them across the Atlantic before she was sold and converted into a coal hulk off Gibraltar. She was broken up in 1925.


Some other clippers on the England to Adelaide run



  1. ^ References spell his name variously as Thompson and Thomson, even in the same sentence.
  2. ^ "Still Later Intelligence". The Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser. IX (347). New South Wales, Australia. 24 February 1855. p. 4. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "Some famous Clipper Ships of Olden Days". The Observer. LXXVIII (5, 841). South Australia. 1 January 1921. p. 26. Retrieved 5 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia.