The Sarah Dixon was built at the Dixon shipyard on the Tantramar River in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada, and launched on 18 September 1856. At 1,468 tons and 206 feet long, the fully sqaure-rigged ship was the largest vessel ever constructed in the shipyards of Sackville. After completion, the Sarah Dixon was loaded with timber and sent to Liverpool, but a glut in the ship market at the time resulted in its sale at a heavy loss and the bankrupting of Charles Dixon and his partner (although the yard continued to operate under various shipwrights).The ship was purchased by a Liverpool firm headed by John Chesshyre Blythe and immediately re-fitted for the passenger trade between England and Australia, with accomodation for up to 600 passengers plus cargo.

The Sarah Dixon made only two voyages to Australia. The first left Liverpool on 13th June 1857 under W. Salt as Master and arrived at Port Phillip Bay on 12th September 1857 with 503 intermediate and steerage class passengers and a cargo of iron, bolts and twine, returning to Britain via Guam. The second voyage, on which Walter Dutton travelled, departed Liverpool on 29th August 1858, again under W. Salt, and arrived at Port Melbourne on 6th December 1858, having cleared the Heads under pilot the previous day. It was carrying 9 first-class and 190 intermediate & steerage class passengers and a cargo of machinery. The Sarah Dixon departed Melbourne on 17th January 1859 bound for Bassein under ballast. In March 1859, the ship struck Baroguy Shoal in the Gulf of Marinban, near Rangoon, Burma and was a total loss.

Al Smith, 2008, 'The Pride of the Dixon Ship Yard: The Sarah Dixon', The White Fence, Issue 40 (Nov), accessed 12 January 2012 <>.

More Information