It’s 1854 and my heroine is standing on the quay with colliers from Whitehaven and Brierley Hill who have signed up with the Hudson’s Bay Company to open the mines on Vancouver Island in Colville.
“The first thing Kate McAvoy registered when she and her family stepped out of the brougham onto Liverpool Dock was the ship. The Princess Rose was smaller than she’d imagined, but looked seaworthy enough. She looked around to find there was no one she recognised, but she knew the occupation of her fellow-travellers straightaway. Their stance, their hands and the remains of coal dust deep in the creases on their faces and necks marked them as colliers. Some were standing, mouths open, staring up at the rigging as if they’d never seen a ship close up before. Kate thought that was probably the case. Most were chatting while a few were silent, appearing almost fearful.”
The image is of a mid 19th century engraving of Liverpool docks. It’s the kind of scene I think the emigrants might have seen – sailors working on a ship in dry dock. I’ve used this image to show how insubstantial the ship must have seemed to some of them for such a long journey and how frenetic the activity was on the docks.
Photograph credit kentarcajuan