The Sinking of RMS Tayleur

The Lost Story of the Victorian Titanic

Gill Hoffs

Date Published :
April 2014
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
8 pp black and white photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781783030477
Pages : 160
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
In stock


The moment they fell into the water the waves caught them and dashed them violently against the rocks, and the survivors on shore could perceive the unfortunate creatures...struggling amidst the waves, and one by one sinking under them.' (Hereford Times, 28 January 1854)

The wrecking of the RMS Tayleur made headlines nearly 60 years before the Titanic. Both were run by the White Star Line, both were heralded as the most splendid ships of their time – and both sank in tragic circumstances on their maiden voyages.

On 19 January 1854 the Tayleur, a large merchant vessel, left Liverpool for Australia; packed with hopeful emigrants, her hold stuffed with cargo. On the 160th anniversary of the disaster, Gill Hoffs reveals new theories behind the disaster and tells the stories of the passengers and crew on the ill-fated vessel:

Captain John Noble, record breaking hero of the Gold Rush era.

Ship surgeon Robert Hannay Cunningham and his young family, on their way to a new life among the prospectors of Tent City.

Samuel Carby, ex-convict, returning to the gold fields with his new wife – and a fortune sewn into her corsets.

But the ship's revolutionary iron hull prevented its compasses from working. Lost in the Irish Sea, a storm swept the Tayleur and the 650 people aboard towards a cliff, studded with rocks ‘black as death’. What happened next shocked the world.

About The Author

Gill Hoffs grew up on the Scottish coast and now lives in Warrington, England. Her work is widely available online and in print, including Wild: a collection (Pure Slush, 2012), The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the ‘Victorian Titanic’ (Pen & Sword, 2014, 2015) and The Lost Story of the William & Mary: The Cowardice of Captain Stinson (Pen & Sword, 2016). She appeared on Series 10 of BBC’s Coast. Contact her @GillHoffs or


"Hoffs has recounted this awful tragedy with such description and dedicated research that you can almost imagine yourself on the deck of this unfortunate vessel... An excellent read."

- Suzie Lennox, author of Bodysnatchers: Digging Up The Untold Stories of Britain’s Resurrection Men

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