Engine and paddle wheel of Bell's 'Comet', 1812.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithograph by C F Cheffins after a drawing by H B Barlow, of parts of the steamship designed by Henry Bell (1767-1830), a Scottish pioneer of steam navigation. The engine was built by John Robertson (1782-1868), and is now in the Science Museum. The 'Comet' was launched in 1812, and was the first passenger paddle steamer to operate commercially in Europe. In 1816 she was in operation on the Firth of Forth and in 1819 was used to establish steam communication between the West Highlands and Glasgow. She ran aground at Craignish Point, near Fort William, in December 1820. Illustration from 'A sketch of the origin and progress of steam navigation from authentic documents' by Bennet Woodcroft (1803-1879) published in London in 1848.