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Oval earthenware plate. Transfer-printed in blue on white, this plate depicts a steam packet in the centre, with the arms of the Cities of London and Edinburgh on the rim. It was probably part of a china service used on board one of the steamboats operated by the London and Edinburgh Steam Packet Company. From Blackwall Pier and later their own wharf in Wapping, the company operated a regular service between London and Leith, transporting passengers, goods and livestock. Steamboat services for passengers were introduced on the Thames in 1815. Steamboats were faster and more reliable than sailing vessels. As services developed, competition between rival companies became fierce, and the river was at times dangerously congested. In 1843, 18,000 passengers travelled by steam packet between London and Edinburgh.
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