Barque 'Atossa'
Courtesy of Littlehampton Museum

This is the story of the barque 'Atossa' and the people associated with her during her entire life from 1863 to 1891. The site provides a compilation of facts, gathered from original documents, publications, websites, newspaper reports, and family papers, photographs, and paintings. A list of sources and acknowledgements can be found via the links panel at the foot of every page. Ships, Places and Surnames are held in indexes. Any errors are my own. Original documents should be consulted to verify accuracy. If you do find any incorrect detail or you can provide additional information, please contact me at barque@atossa.uk Colin Jackson

The Construction of Atossa
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the most common type of deep-water cargo-carrying ship was the wooden barque; a sailing ship of three or more masts, the rear (mizzenmast) being rigged for a fore-and-aft sail.
The barque 'Atossa' was built at Sunderland, at the mouth of the River Wear in north-east England, by shipbuilders, Robert Thompson and Sons, as yard number 82. She was completed on the 30th July 1863 and named after the daughter of Cyrus, founder of the Persian Empire.
'Atossa' was shown in the 1863 H. M. Customs & Excise Register for the Port of Sunderland as being constructed of wood, with one deck with a break, three masts and a square stern. She was “138 feet and 4 tenths long from the Forepart of the Stem under the Bowsprite to the Aft Side of the Head of the Stern-post”, with a “Main Breadth to outside of Plank of 28 feet & 8 tenths” and a “Depth in Hold from Tonnage Deck to Ceiling at Midships of 18 feet & 9.5 tenths.”
Steele’s Elements and Practice of Naval Architecture (1805) defines a ‘break’ as "The sudden termination or rise in the decks of some merchant ships, where the aft and sometimes the fore part of the deck is kept up, to give more height between decks." This gave the Master and Officers headroom in their cabins, which were at the stern of the ship. The crew lived in the fore area.
The North & South Shields Gazette reported that on Thursday 6th August 1863, “Messrs. R. Thompson & Sons, North Sands, launched the 'Atossa' a 13 years’ ship, of 527 tons (builders measurement) the property of W. Nicholson & Son, and named by Miss Nicholson.”
Registered with Sunderland Customs and Excise on the 26th October 1863, as vessel number 139 she was shown as being 466 tons net / 492 tons gross. At the time of her launch, she was owned by William Nicholson the Elder, who held 24 shares; William Nicholson the Younger, who also held 24 shares and John Nicholson, who held the remaining 16 shares. All three men were resident in Sunderland and all were shown in the Registers as Shipowners.
The Merchant Shipping Act of 1854 had introduced the formalisation of the traditional part-ownership system, by making part-ownership in sixty-four parts, so that an investor could buy one or more sixty-fourth share. The holder received a share of the profit on each successful voyage but had to contribute to cover any losses.
Tonnage details for 'Atossa' shown in the 1863 Sunderland Customs & Excise Register were: -
Tonnage under Tonnage Deck    .....457.38
Deck House .........9.52
Break .....25.27 +
Crew Space .......25.63 -
   ... 466.54
Crew Space was calculated as follows:-  
Deck House .........9.52
1st Mates Room .........2.49
Mess Room .........9.49
Stewards Room .........1.76
2nd Mate .........2.37
'Atossa's official registration number was 47671. The Merchant Shipping Act of 1854 also brought into being Ships Official Numbers, which were carved into the main beam of the ship when it was registered under the British Flag. That number stayed with the ship until it was broken up or sold to a foreign owner. Her International Code Signal was V.P.N.B.

The Shipbuilding Thompson family > >
The Story Begins Absent Crew and Flying Jib 1872-1873 Rio De Janeiro, Barbados & Wilmington
The Construction of Atossa Swansea to Valparaiso and return 1873 James Grevett
The Shipbuilding Thompson Family The 1874 and 1875 Voyages The Caribbean 1889
The Mercantile Navy List 1864 A Change of Master 1876 Grevett as Master
The First Master and Crew New Owner and New Ports 1877 The 1890/1891 Survey
Dover to Valparaiso 1863-1864 Sugar and Onboard Offences The Final Voyage
Peru and Wales Demerara and London 1878-1879 Places Index
Chile and back 1864-1865 The Far Side of the World 1879-1881 Place Connections
Clements becomes Master South Africa and India 1881-1882 Surnames Index
Official Log Entries 1866-1867 The Robinson Family Ships Index
Return to Chile 1867 Ceylon and New York 1882-1883 Map of Chile
Chile Again 1868-1869 Brazil and India 1883-1884 Sources
Swansea to Coquimbo return 1869-1870 Cape Verde and the West Indies 1885  
Chile and New York 1870-1871 October 1885 to October 1886  
South America and Europe 1871 Twenty-One Months Away © atossa.uk 2020
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