|The remains of the King and Queen dry|
dock, where Lightening and Meteor
Named Lightning and Meteor, the two paddle steamers were commissioned by the government-operated Post Office from Evans to serve on the run between Holyhead (Anglesey, north Wales) and Howth (a coastal suburb of Dublin in southern Ireland).
|The steam packet boat Lightening, just off centre,|
with Meteor to the far left of the painting and the Royal George
just to the left of Lightening, flying the Royal Standard.
By William John Huggins 1822.
National Maritime Museum
The captain of Lightning, John Skinner, was a Royal Navy veteran and was put in command of several sailing packets before being put in command of Lightning. A monument to him, in the form of an obelisk, still stands in Holyhead harbour. Lightning, by then Sovereign, was eventually transferred to the Admiralty and renamed HMS Monkey.
It became clear that the steam ship services introduced onto various postal routes were unprofitable. They were expensive to build and the Post Office had neither the expertise nor the experience to run them efficiently, resulting in substantial losses. As a result of these failures, in 1837 an Act of Parliament handed packet operations into the hand of the Admiralty, although the schedules were still determined by the Post Office.
Control of packet services was once again handed over to the Post Office in 1860, but at the end of the 1800s the Post Office began to contract its operations out to private companies again, this time to steam, rather than sail companies.