South Steyne (S.S.) | NSW Environment & Heritage

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South Steyne (S.S.)

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History

The South Steyne is a double-ended, double-screw steamship powered by a 3,250 IHP triple expansion steam engine. It was the largest ferry to operate on Sydney Harbour, designed and constructed to ocean-going ship standards. 1203 gross tonnes, 67 metres in length and with a beam of 11 metres. It has a double-ended riveted steel hull, steel superstructure to sun deck level, steel bulwarks, teak decks and wheelhouses, 8 watertight bulk-heads, bar keel, double bottom under engine only. Two funnels (one dummy containing water tank). (Heritage Office 1992) (I Brady 1976).

The South Steyne has operated as a floating restaurant on Sydney harbour for over 20 years. In 1999 the vessel was listed on the NSW State Heritage Register (see below for further details of State Heritage Register Listing).

Database

Site information

Site ID: 2317
Type: Ferry Construction:
Primary industry: Transport Sub-industry:
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Lost event

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Wrecked/Refloated: Sinking:
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Crew: Passengers:
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Location

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  Datum    Latitude    Longitude    Zone    Easting    Northing
AGD66
AGD84
GDA94
WGS84

Management

Found: Please choose... Inspected:
Protected: NSW Heritage Act 1977 Jurisdiction: State
Protection notes:
Signage: Web address:

State Heritage Inventory info

State heritage item data

Name: South Steyne (S.S.)
Other names: Manly Ferry, "SS South Steyne"
Designer: Walter Leslie Dendy and John Ashcroft Builder: Henry Robb Ltd
Material types:
Year construction started: 1937
Year construction completed: 1938
Modification dates: 1937 - keel laid.
1 April 1938 - launched.
9 Sep 1938 - arrived Sydney, registered .
24 Oct 1938 - entered service.
1944 - collision with Manly wharf.
1953 - first ocean cruise.
1964 - alterations to passenger accomodation.
1972 - last ocean cruise.
Aug 1974 - withdrawn from service. Fire damaged.
1975 - sold out of service.
1988 - refit as restaurant/cruising vessel.
Physical condition:
Physical condition is good but with high level of maintenance required to retain this condition.
Physical description:
South Steyne is a double-ended, double-screw steamship powered by a 3,250 IHP triple expansion steam engine. It was the largest ferry to operate on Sydney Harbour, designed and constructed to ocean-going ship standards. 1203 gross tonnes, 67 metres in length and with a beam of 11 metres. It has a double-ended riveted steel hull, steel superstructure to sun deck level, steel bulwarks, teak decks and wheelhouses, 8 watertight bulk-heads, bar keel, double bottom under engine only. Two funnels (one dummy containing water tank). (Heritage Office 1992) (I Brady 1976)
Historical notes:
The Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Co. Ltd. was the best known of the Sydney ferry operators and was famous for the large and comfortable steamers which it ran to the seaside suburb and resort of Manly. The ferry service played a significant role in opening up settlement in that region from the 1850s. Patronage was growing steadily in the 1930s and the need to increase fleet capacity and the need for faster vessels led the Port Jackson Co. to order a new ferry boat.

In December 1936 the General Manager of the Port Jackson Co., Walter Leslie Dendy went to Britain to study sea transportation, propulsion techniques and to order a new ferry. By March 1937, seven shipbuilders had submitted tenders. The contract was awarded to the Scottish shipbuilder Henry Robb Ltd. for a steam reciprocating ship. The engine was built by Harland & Wolff Ltd., Belfast. The keel of the vessel was laid at Robb's Leith Yard in October 1937 and launching took place in April 1938. The name of the vessel came from the promenade behind the ocean beach at Manly.

Pedder and Mylchreest Ltd. of London was entrusted the task of delivering the ship 12,000 miles to Sydney. Captain R. M. Beedie was the master for the sixty-four day voyage. During the voyage, the South Steyne performed well and found no difficulty in the monsoonal conditions.

The South Steyne arrived in Sydney on 9 September 1938 and for the next 36 years gave faithful service on the Manly ferry run. The ferry had a justified reputation as a fine sea-going boat. For some 20 years it also ran Sunday Ocean cruises to Broken Bay, north of Sydney and followed the Boxing Day yacht races to sea. South Steyne was withdrawn from service in 1974 amid uncertainty about the future of the service. At that time it was the last steam ferry operating in Sydney. About a week after the last run a fire broke out in the fan engine room and severely damaged that area and the promenade deckhouse above.

The South Steyne passed through a number of ownerships with intermittent conservation and restoration work being undertaken. In 1988 it was refitted as a cruising vessel/function centre and entered service in Melbourne, its first function was as 'Royal Yacht' for the Queen in April 1988. In 1991 it was sold to a Newcastle owner and was returned to NSW, initially to Newcastle, then to Sydney, where it is now moored in Darling Harbour. (Heritage Office 1992) (A. Prescott, R. Willson and P. Plowman 1990)
Statement of significance:
The South Steyne was the best known of the Manly ferry line which played a major role in the suburbanisation of Sydney and in the development of its recreational patterns. It is a very high quality example of naval architecture and an outstanding example of the plating (having no flat plates) for which Henry Robb of Leith was famous. It is the finest example of the most significant Australian contribution to sea navigation technology - the development of high speed, double-ended operation in deep sea conditions. It has an intact operating example of propulsion by steam reciprocating engine. It epitomised the Manly ferry as part of Sydney's image and its popular urban culture; and remains, like the Harbour Bridge, a powerful piece of Sydney imagery. It is held in high esteem by the local community and remains in the collective memory of the nation. It provides a working example of the propulsion and auxilary functions of marine steam power. (Heritage Office 1992)
Current use: Restaurant and function centre Former use: Ferry
Group name: Group name 2: Transport - Water
Type name: Movable/Collection
Category name: Vessel - harbour & river
Circa flag: No
Further information: Location movable. Located Port Hunter when PCO was made; now Port Jackson.
Now an extremely rare item in international terms - largest surviving operating example of this significant maritime technology. Needs careful on-going management strategy, and ultimately probable state support.
Recommended
management:
Needs conservation management plan