The first vessels to arrive in the Canary Islands

The travellers who first started frequenting the islands, in their vast majority English and French, did so generally using the lines that connected the Canary Islands with England via the western coast of Africa. The African Steam Ship Co. (A.S.S.) was founded in 1852 and was dedicated to linking Great Britain with the basin of Niger to transport palm oil and other products from the interior of West Africa to Europe, or cochineal from Gran Canaria and Tenerife. From 1869 it became the British and African Steam Navigation Co. (the B.A.S.).

The vessels departed from Liverpool on alternate Saturdays of each month, stopping over in Funchal, Tenerife and Las Palmas. Their halls were short compared to the proportions of the ships. They had no compartments for the luggage; bags, boxes and suitcases were stored away from the cabins. The passengers slept on sofas and travelled surrounded by baskets of merchandise and barrels of palm oil.

They arrived at Funchal sometime between Fridays and Sundays, to then reach Tenerife in 24 hours. All of these steam engines took between five to eight days to make the journey to the Canary Islands, depending on whether they left from Liverpool or London, and on the speed of the vessels.

In the decades of the sixties and seventies, in spite of the great influx of steam engines towards the Canaries, the transport of passengers was still greater towards Funchal than to the Canary Islands.