For more than eighty years the “Edina” has been in service, mainly in Australian waters. She is a popular veteran and is affectionately known by many nicknames, including “The Old Lady of Port Phillip”
BUILT IN 1854, the Edina is still in active service after many adventures. She is an iron vessel, originally of 322 tons gross, built by Barclay Curie and Company and launched at Glasgow on May 5, 1854. This photograph shows how she appeared thirty years later, in 1884, after she had been overhauled and re-
THOSE two wonderful steamships the Queen Mary and the Normandie have created a great stir throughout the world because of their enormous dimensions and speeds. There is, however, another wonderful vessel -
This veteran of the sea, after more than eighty years, is still in active service and trades between Melbourne and Geelong (Victoria), doing her daily run of over ninety miles. She has been described by the London Press as the “Peter Pan of the Sea”.
During the last few years a number of veterans of the sea have disappeared. The John Bowes, built in 1852, was lost as the Villa Selgas in 1933, and recently two Clyde favourites, the Iona and the Columba, have become victims of the shipbreakers. From all appearances the Edina will continue for many more years, for she is in splendid condition. Her iron hull has the same dimensions
as when she was built, without any subtraction or addition, in contrast to many other vessels. It is not likely that there will ever be another steamer in the future to have such a record, in view of the scrapping of liners such as the Mauretania, Olympic and Homeric, vessels that have had short careers.
The Edina was launched on the Clyde on May 5, 1854, only about half a mile from the spot where over 200,000 people assembled to see the launch of the Queen Mary in September 1934. What celebrity performed the ceremony when the Edina took to the water is not recorded, but crowds witnessed her launch, for she was described by the Press as “making a majestic descent into the Clyde” from Barclay, Curie and Company’s shipyard.
Her dimensions are: length 171 feet, beam 23 ft 7-
clipper bow. With three masts, square-
The Edina was not long in being fitted out after her launch. She took her maiden sailing to Hull on July 5, 1854, and continued to sail weekly for several months.
Some months previously hostilities in the Crimea had broken out and steamships of all descriptions, including the celebrated Great Britain, were requisitioned by the Admiralty to take troops, ammunition, stores and horses to the Black Sea. The Edina was taken over on February 28, 1855. The first contract was for three months at the rate of £2 15s. per ton per month, and she loaded ordnance stores and horses at Deptford, sailing shortly afterwards for the Crimea. She had rather meagre accommodation, which had to be enlarged before she sailed, but she did not carry troops, as is frequently reported. As she was well equipped with sails, these were used with advantage and her coal consumption was thus economized -
After the Crimean War the Edina was returned to her owners in March 1856, and for a time was placed in her original trade but, being a handy vessel, she was used for more important runs. After a thorough overhaul of her engines and boilers she renewed her association with the Mediterranean and brought cargoes of fruit to England. In 1861 she had a new boiler installed and shortly afterwards she was released from the Company’s regular services.
In the same way as many other vessels of her class, she was diverted to the Atlantic, where she went to Galveston, Texas. During the American Civil War she made six trips from Galveston with cotton. In October 1861 the United States Government was employing about 150,000 men and 3,000 vessels to ship 2,000,000 bales of cotton which had accumulated, ready for export to England and France. The auxiliary Edina proved a useful vessel for the service.
The discovery of gold in Australia and New Zealand induced thousands of people in Great Britain to emigrate to the Antipodes. When the Edina was released from the Atlantic trade she, too, went to Australia. She was a “young lady” then and, after having had her propeller detached, she left the Firth of Forth on November 23, 1862. After having cleared the east coast of England she entered the English Channel and had fine weather until entering the Bay of Biscay. There she encountered a severe buffeting in wintry weather, but came out unscathed. Thirty-
Across the Tasman Sea
The Edina was offered for sale and bought by Stephen Henty, a descendant of one of the early settlers. On April 2 she made a trip to the Western District ports of Victoria, including Warrnambool and Portland. Local papers were loud in their praise at the acquisition of so fine a vessel, and she had many passengers and a full cargo for the return trip.
Her second trip nearly proved her final one, for she narrowly escaped being totally wrecked at Portland. While she was at anchor in Lady Bay, on April 18, a heavy sea sprang up and for hours the Edina was in a perilous position. Despite all efforts of the crew she drifted ashore in the early morning and soon the huge seas were breaking over the vessel and doing much damage. When
the sea abated efforts were made to refloat the vessel, and after three days the Edina was afloat again, and later taken to Melbourne and repaired.
After the goldfields in the South Island of New Zealand had been discovered thousands of diggers were induced to go there, and all available vessels were diverted to that trade. The clipper ships such as the famous Lightning and Red Jacket also carried thousands of passengers and sheep to New Zealand, and when the Edina was placed in the service she, too, received much patronage. Her first trip was a stormy one, but she behaved perfectly, and arrived at the Bluff (South Island, N.Z.) none the worse for her experience.
She made six trips across the Tasman Sea and travelled over 18,000 miles, carrying hundreds of passengers and bringing to Australia nearly 40,000 ounces of gold, as well as thousands of pounds of specie, which if computed to-
The owner of the Edina was induced to withdraw the vessel from the New Zealand trade and place her in the coastal run, a trade for which she was most suitable. Accordingly she renewed her acquaintance with the Victorian ports of Warrnambool and Portland at the end of 1863. It was customary for her to carry large quantities of dairy produce, bales of wool and a number of live stock and pigs. She built up a remunerative trade and brought considerable profits to her owner for many years.
THE EDINA IN 1863 was transferred from the New Zealand trade to the coastal run between Portland and Warrnambool, Victoria. She was most successful as a carrier of dairy produce, live stock and bales of wool. In 1868 she was sold to a new company for £9,500 and continued in the same trade until 1875.
A new shipping company was formed at Warrnambool in February 1868. As the Edina was under offer she was bought for £9,500, and continued in the trade under the new flag.
The Edina had been running for twelve months for her new owners when her career almost came to an end. While passing the dreaded Port Phillip Head early in the morning of April 30, 1869, she struck what seemed to be a submerged object. This was the outer end of the Lonsdale Reef, a spot where many vessels in the past had been wrecked, and many since have found a grave. She managed to float off the reef, but it was discovered that her stern was getting deeper in the water. After her hold had been examined, it was discovered that water was entering. The pumps were then set working, and by great skill she was taken to Williamstown, at the mouth of the River Yarra, and was placed in shallow water. On that occasion she had a number of passengers, a full cargo and 120 pigs.
After repairs had been carried out she re-
A Complete Overhaul
After her change of ownership she was placed on the Queensland coastal trade, and became one of the most popular vessels for several years. Because of the advent of new and up-
ASHORE ON POINT GELLIBRAND near Williamstown, Victoria. On April 27, 1898, the Edina was nearing Williamstown on the run from Geelong to Melbourne, when she collided with the wooden steamer Manawatu. To prevent her from sinking, the Edina's captain ran his vessel ashore She was soon refloated, docked and repaired This illustration is from a drawing by C. Dickson Gregory.
After the necessary alterations had been made and the rig entirely changed -
For some time great competition in the trade ensued, but the Edina always was the popular vessel and received a fair share of patronage from the “Bay trippers”. In 1887 the palatial steamer Courier, 728 tons, was placed in the trade, and became a great rival to the Edina, yet the veteran still held her popularity.
The Edina had made more than 1,000 trips to Geelong, and had traded for more than eighteen years without having a serious mishap; but on the evening of April 27, 1898, when nearing Williamstown, Victoria, she met the wooden steamer Manawatu, outward-
The Edina’s captain, realizing the great danger of his vessel also sinking immediately, ran her on Point Gellibrand, where she heeled over and prevented the water from coming in. She was refloated a few days later and taken into dock and repaired.
The peaceful relations between the Edina and her competitors were interrupted on July 11, 1899, when a thick fog suddenly came on during her voyage to Geelong. Her speed was reduced and her fog-
900,000 Miles, 1,100,000 Passengers
In 1917 the Edina was withdrawn from the trade, and as the war of 1914-
On July 9, 1924, the Edina failed to reach her customary berth and alarm was felt for the ship. There was a thick fog, and later news came that she was aground on her favourite spot -
In July 1931 the Edina became involved in another collision, when she sank the tug Hovell at the mouth of the River Yarra. In September 1932 the Edina was sailing to Geelong and soon after she had left Portarlington a thick fog enveloped the vessel. She went aground and her 128 passengers had to be taken off in fishing boats. When a tug came later, the elusive Edina was not to be found, and was forced to remain a night on the sandbank.
She has carried tens of thousands of passengers between Melbourne and Geelong and generally has a contingent of 503 on public holidays. People always relish a trip in the “old Edina”, as they affectionately style her, and it is to be hoped the old vessel will continue and reach a century.
The principal event of the Centenary of Victoria in 1934 was the visit of H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester when he visited Australia in HMS Sussex. The Edina was the first vessel to greet the Sussex with a signal message: “Welcome to the Duke.” As the Edina passed the Sussex her flag was dipped in a salute, which was duly acknowledged.
THE EDINA in 1936 was still running between Geelong and Melbourne, after eighty-
[From part 44, published 8 December 1936]