The ‘Bessemer’ was designed by Sir E.J. Read on a principle invented by Henry Bessemer. It was hoped that her unique hanging saloon measuring 70ft by 35ft would help alleviate the effects of a rough sea and so ease seasickness. The saloon would be worked by a hydraulic apparatus controlled by one of the seamen, the complete structure resting on a large rubber bed to prevent vibration. To ease docking at Calais she was double ended in order to cut down on the manoeuvres needed in harbour.From the start the ship lacked speed, managing only 11 knots instead of the promised 20. Her first crossing to Calais was from Gravesend in April 1875 but on arrival she smashed into the pier, damaging it and herself. On 4th May the ‘Bessemer’ sailed from Dover for Calais, where she again crashed into the pier causing further damage. On 8th May there was a public trial trip to Calais and the crossing was made in an impressive 90 minutes. Unfortunately, ‘Bessemer’ entered Calais as the tide was sweeping through the pierheads, failed to answer the helm and demolished 50ft of the west pier. On freeing herself she then crashed into the east pier.Poor steering qualities and malfunctioning of the swinging saloon caused the ‘Bessemer’ to be laid up shortly afterwards. The Bessemer Steam Ship Company was liquidated in 1876, and the ship sat in dock at Dover until it was sold for scrap in 1879. The saloon survived the ship as it was re-erected as a billiard room at Sir E.J. Read’s house in Swanley. The house later became Swanley Horticultural College and the saloon used as as a lecture hall.It is mentioned in a letter in the Times of 24 December 1929: "its crudely painted classical frescoes have caused a good deal of amusement to generations of new students. It is never called anything else but 'the saloon'. The staterooms are used as study bedrooms; the smoking room is occupied as an office, and is entered by means of the original companion way".The Manchester Guardian of 8 October 1934, described it further: "the saloon is used as a lecture hall. The old leather seats still remain in place round the walls, and there are some beautiful carved panels with the monogram B.S.S. Co. and twisted mahogany pillars supporting the roof".