The famous White Star Line was established by John Pilkington son of the Pilkington Glass Company's founder Christopher Pilkington in the 1840s. The company originally operated packet sailings to the East Coast of the USA and started using the White Star name in 1849.
With the Australian Gold Rush underway from 1851 the company commenced packet sailings to Australia in 1852. To augment the fleet of four vessels already employed on the Liverpool to Melbourne route, and establish themselves as a leader in the Australian packet trade, White Star chartered the large iron clipper Tayleur, under construction for Liverpool ship owner Charles A. Moore.
The Tayleur was the largest iron sailing ship of her day and the largest ship ever to be constructed at Tayleur & Company's Bank Quay yard at Warrington. She cost £34,000 and weighed 1,900 tons. Tayleur had four decks and as well as passengers could carry 4000 tons of cargo.
The Tayleur was wrecked whilst on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne, Australia. She foundered after striking rocks off the east coast of Lambay Island, north of Dublin Bay on January 21, 1854 with the loss of 380 persons.
In 1869 the White Star Line was forced into liquidation and the company, house flag and goodwill were purchased by Thomas H. Ismay, father of J. Bruce Ismay. In September that year Thomas Ismay founded the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, to which the White Star trading name passed.