City of Nassau as the SS Laura, London & Southwestern Railway Company. The caption of this postcard photo reads: “Laura was built in 1885 for the Southampton-St. Malo/Cherbourg services of the LSWR. She passed tot he Southern Railway in 1923, and in 1927 was sold to the Bahamas, renamed City of Nassau, Laura, was 641 gross tons.”
MAILBOAT NAME: SS City of Nassau
PAST NAMES: SS Laura
DIMENSIONS: 207′ long, 26.8 wide, 13.2 deep, 223 net tons, 592 gross tons, 180 hp, compound steam engine, call sign JVWF, Official # 90415
YEAR BUILT: 1885 at Whiteinch, Glasgow Scotland by Aitken & Mansel,
EARLY CAREER: not know, presumably coastal trade in US and inter-island in Bahamas
BAHAMAS CAREER: Served Harbour Island – Nassau, presumably other islands
OWNERS: Florida Inter-Island Steamship Company Limited, Nassau
PREVIOUS OWNER: London & Southwestern Railway Company, of London, UK
CAPTAINS: not known
FATE: Cargo only from 1922, said to have been broken up in 1937, but still listed in 1940. Also rumored to have been lost while boot-legging, but since that was in the 1920s this is not likely.
Was listed on the Mercantile Naval List from 1890, 1900, 1910, 1915, 1920, 1930 & 1940 (see reference “Source” below). Listed in the 1957 Mercantile Navy List, so she served at least 30 years.
NOTES: This is the only relevant steam ship registered to the Bahamas in 1957, probably because the advantage of steam was speed – not a key requirement for the short distances in the closed market of the islands at the time. Furthermore with steam came considerably more bunker, or fuel costs, which would have been uneconomical for the mostly single-ship economy of Bahamian mailboats. The advantages would not have offset the comparative disadvantages.
The following entry from a volunteer site “Coasters and other ships revived”:
“1885, 617grt, compound steam engine, [built by] Aitken & Mansel, Glasgow (132) for the London & South Western Railway Company – Channel Islands services. Reduced to cargo-only from 1922. Sold 1927 to Bahamas owners, from 1928 Florida Inter-Islands S.S. Co. as CITY OF NASSAU. Broken up in 1937 (other reports suggested lost while boot-legging!)”
Source: Mercantile Navy List, 1957, Memorial University Library, Newfoundland, Canada, http://collections.mun.ca/cdm4/description.php?id=107