10th June 1823

Guernsey welcomed its first steam ship

The first steam ship to ever arrive at Guernsey was the Medina, which hoved into view on 10 June 1823. It wasn’t huge by any means, weighing around 100 tons. Titanic weighed around 50,000 tons, which is about the same as a cross-channel ferry.

Onboard were Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas George Fitzgerald and his family, who had expressly hired the vessel for the journey. Fitzgerald was the commanding officer of the 72nd Regiment of Foot.

Otherwise known as the Highland Regiment or the Duke of Albany’s Own Highlanders, the 72nd Regiment of Foot was formed in Scotland and served in India and Africa. It also spent time on both Guernsey and Jersey, hence Fitzgerald’s need to travel to the island.

A notable occasion

The Medina’s arrival from Southampton was a moment of great excitement for Guernsey residents. As The Guernsey and Jersey magazine wrote at the time, having never seen a ship of such advanced technology, “as will easily be supposed, the pier and the various eminences were crowded [with locals hoping] to have a view of her as she came in”. The journey from the mainland had taken 15-hours. It can now be completed in around a quarter of that time.

Locals had to wait three months to see the next steam vessel arrive, but wouldn’t have been disappointed. Where the Medina had been a 100-ton ship, the next – the Royal George – had weighed in at 387 tons. That’s still small by modern standards, almost four times the weight of the one that had previously excited them.

A popular name

The Medina was still a very new ship. She had been launched the previous year and would remain in service until 1848. She was the first steamer to circumnavigate the Isle of Wight, and occasionally made channel crossings to Le Havre.

Another paddle steamer of the same name, the PS Medina (I) was built four years after this ship was scrapped, by J White of Cowes on the Isle of Wight. At 104 tonnes, she was slightly heavier than the original Medina. PS Medina (I) was in service for 21 years, being withdrawn in 1882 and scrapped 12 months later.


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Other events that occured in June

Cricketer Charles Grieve died in Shropshire 1st
St Johns undertook its first Guernsey rescue 2nd
Bailiff John Guille died in Plymouth 3rd
GUNS writer Joseph John Gillingham was deported 4th
First arrests were made at Guernsey Airport 5th
Jethou was put on the market 6th
The king and queen celebrated Guernsey’s liberation 7th
Occupying forces confiscated Guernsey’s radios 8th
Guernsey Railway company ceased operations 9th
Guernsey welcomed its first steam ship 10th
Laura Kennington kicks off Channel Islands triathlon 11th
Dame Sibyl became a dame again 12th
Guernsey voted to legalise local abortions 13th
Victor Hugo’s house is opened to the public 14th
The Channel Islands were demilitarised 15th
Guernsey was invaded by Colorado beetles 16th
States Telephone Department was established 17th
Pollet guest house fire claimed its third victim 18th
Aurigny founder Derrick Bailey died 19th
Guernsey joined the Football Association 20th
Guernsey’s school children were evacuated 21st
Guernsey celebrated Queen Victoria’s jubilee 22nd
Princess Elizabeth opened Guernsey’s hospital 23rd
Guernsey chose England over France 24th
First meeting of Guernsey’s Controlling Committee 25th
Guernsey bought Fort Grey from the War Office 26th
Guernsey coffee trader William Le Lacheur died 27th
G-JOEY completes his last flight 28th
Guernsey suffered its first and only air raid
The Star was published for the first time 29th
Two deserters were shot after landing on Guernsey 30th