1937 HANDWRITTEN MANUSCRIPT BY OWEN RUTTER - THE ATLANTIC CROSSED BY STEAM601
An original manuscript entitled "The Atlantic Crossed by Steam", 5000 words, dated 5-6 December, 1937, written over 14 foolscap sized (roughly 12 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches) pages, signed on the title page, first page and last page, by Owen Rutter, Anglo-Malay Colonial Administrator and an orientalist of some repute. The steamship SS Great Western (named for the Great Western Railway Company) was the first steamship purposely built for the Atlantic crossing. It was an iron-strapped wooden side-wheel paddle steamer (with auxiliary sails), designed by the great railway engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, whose idea it was that steam would replace sail power on the regularly-scheduled trans-Atlantic "packet boat" services, which had been operating under sail since 1818. He convinced the directors of the Great Western Railway. Though the Great Western's huge boilers took up almost half its interior, the ship was designed to carry 148 passengers, with a main passenger saloon 75 feet long by 34 feet at its widest. The Great Western displaced 2,340 tons. Twenty-four first-class passengers paid 35 guineas each for the maiden trip (more than many working class people then earned in a year). Adding to the value of the trip, on its maiden run, the Great Western raced the SS Sirius to New York, though the Sirius had left Cork, Ireland days earlier, on April 4. The Great Western left Bristol, England, on April 8, 1838. The rival British and American Steam Navigation Company expected to open the first steam-powered regularly-scheduled "packet" trans-Atlantic service with their SS British Queen. But with their ship still at the shipyard, it became clear at the opening of the season that the Great Western, which had already been launched and was being fitted out with its machinery in London, was going to beat them to it. So they chartered the Sirius, which was a cross-Channel steamship. Though the Sirius beat the Great Western to New York, arriving on April 22 with forty passengers, they had to burn the cabin furniture, spare yards and one mast to do it, inspiring the similar sequence in Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days (1872). The Great Western arrived the following day, with 200 tons of coal still aboard, and after only 15 days at sea. Great Western was subsequently awarded the Blue Riband for setting the record for trans-Atlantic travel speed at 8.66 knots, beating Sirius which clocked in at 8.03 knots. The Great Western served in the trans-Atlantic run until 1846. Later, after serving as a troopship in the Crimean War, she was broken up in a salvage yard on the lower reaches of the Thames in 1856. Born in 1889, Rutter joined the North Borneo Company service in 1910 as a cadet. He was first attached to the West Coast Residency. Except for a few months in 1912 when he was the assistant district officer for Tawau, Rutter spent most of his five years of service on the west coast of Sabah. He finally rose to the position of district officer in 1913, leaving the service in 1915 to return to Europe to serve with the British Army during World War I. Demobilised after the war with the rank of major, Rutter returned to Sabah and spent 18 months as a planter and traveller. Upon returning to Britain, he became an academician and writer. He died in 1944. Rutter was a prolific writer. His books dwelt on subjects of the East, ranging from legends of Sabah to a biography of Sarawak’s Rajah James Brooke. Two of his books, British North Borneo: an Account of its History, Resources and Native Tribes (1922) and The Pagans of North Borneo (1929), remained classic texts on Sabah for many years. British North Borneo was published in the same year as Evans’ Among Primitive People but was better received in North Borneo Company circles for its uncontroversial contents. It served as the standard reference on Sabah until the publication of K.G. Tregonning’s A History of Modern Sabah (1963). The Pagans of North Borneo provides systematic insights into the lives of the various non-Muslim tribes in Sabah, not confined to only the people of Tuaran and Tempassuk as in the case of Evans’ book. Rutter carried out extensive research for The Pagans of North Borneo, drawing on materials and information from other North Borneo Company officials, notably, F.W. Fraser, the long serving government secretary who had spent some years in Tambunan and Keningau, and Woolley. Even though there are now some gaps in Rutter’s presentation on the non-Muslim indigenous people, it is still regarded as a major contribution to the study of ethnography in Sabah. Slight trimming on left side, not affecting text-otherwise clean.
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