|"Baragoola" may head to Redcliffe just north of Brisbane!|
|Thursday, 27 November 2008 00:16|
This is one of the oldest ferries alive, built at Morts Dock, Sydney, sister ship to the North Steyne which is aground in Cairns. The current owner has spent plenty of money restoring her over 20 years, reputedly around a million dollars but the time has come for an enthusiast to take her on.
NSW Maritime is working hand in hand with the relocation of the boat and support her next phase of restoration.
The sale is handled by Progressive Boat Sales from Balmain in conjunction with Grays on Line.
For information, visit www.graysonline.com.au or contact Gareth Venn-Brown Tel: 0413 544 506 or (02) 9555 2336.
The popular image of the Manly Ferry during the present century has very much evolved around the 'class' (to use a naval term loosely) of six very similar double-ended screw steamers built for the Port Jackson Co-operative Steamship Co. Ltd. and the Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Co. Ltd. between 1905 and 1922.
Up to the early years of this century, the Port Jackson Company operated a fleet consisting almost entirely of paddle steamers. The reason for the relatively late transition to screw propulsion lay in the necessity of using double ended ships due to the configuration of Sydney Harbour with its many coves and the difficulties of turning in the Circular Quay terminus. Smaller double ended ferries had been found to operate quite successfully with screw propulsion, but the Manly service had speed and heavy weather requirements which necessitated fine bows on the ships.
A propeller at the 'forward' end of the ship tended to restrict the vessel's speed. On all the steamers up to 'South Steyne', the Port Jackson Company adopted the unsophisticated method of increasing engine size and power to gain extra speed - a technique of little concern in prosperous years but extravagant in lean years.
The steamers 'Balgowlah', 'Barrenjoey' and 'Baragoola' were the last three in the class of six mentioned earlier. The class evolved form earlier vessels designed by Walter Reeks, the unorthodox Sydney naval architect. These were the 'Manly' built in 1896 and the 'Ku-Ring-Gai', built in 1901 at Morts Dock in Balmain.
The class of six steamers, ('Binngarra', 'Burra Bra', 'Bellubera', 'Balgowlah', 'Barrenjoey' and 'Baragoola') the names of which began with the letter 'B' were designed by Morts Dock and Engineering, initially under the guidance of former chief draughtsman Andrew Christie, and built at the Woolwich yard - except for Baragoola which was built at Balmain. They were among the largest ships built in Australia at this time and on the admission of Mort's executives, were built by the Dock more for prestige than profit.
The class was to reach its apogee in the three identical vessels 'Bellubera' (1910), 'Balgowlah' (1912) and 'Barrenjoey' (1913).
The completion of 'Barrenjoey' satisfied company requirements for several years, and 'Baragoola' was not built until 1922. In 'Baragoola' the Company sought to increase seating capacity, and stipulated a greater beam. She was only 199.5 feet in length, 498 gross tons, and 1300 IHP. She reached 15 knots on trials but subsequently suffered a speed disadvantage compared to the other boats. Her passenger capacity was 1512.
All of these last four boats were to be destined for modernisation and diesel electric engines, but the Company's post war economic difficulties deprived 'Balgowlah' of that opportunity. She went to the shipbreaker in 1953 and the engines acquired for her went into 'Baragoola'.
'Baragoola' was built at the Balmain yard of Mort's Dock, and was launched on 14th February 1922 by the wife of the owning company's Chairman of directors, Mr. Hunter McPherson. The cost of the new vessel was 80,000 pounds as against 32,000 pounds for 'Barrenjoey' and 29,000 pounds for 'Balgowlah', the two vessels built prior to 'Baragoola' at the Woolwich Yard in 1912. It is little wonder that the owners went to the UK for their next vessels.
'Baragoola' ran trials on 11 August and entered service on 3rd September, 1922. 'Baragoola' was slightly smaller than her near-sisters. She could be distinguished from these ships by the rounded ends of the sun deck (bridge) beyond each wheelhouse. In addition, possibly at the time of the alternation enabling her to burn oil fuel, a cowl was fitted to the funnel. Because of her extra beam, she was always considered to be a little slower than her running mates, sometimes being referred to as 'The slow boat (to China)'. Her name is said to mean 'Flood Tide' in the local Aboriginal dialect.
During the 1920s 'Burra-bra', 'Bellubera', 'Balgowlah', 'Barrenjoey' and 'Baragoola' were fitted with a small cafeteria below the main deck aft. This facility was removed from all vessels during the 1930s. In August 1930 the open space on the promenade deck of 'Barrenjoey' was partly enclosed; she was the first of the four vessels built during 1910-1922 to receive this improvement. The enclosed seating therein served the business traffic, and was of benefit to the travelling public during the colder months and at night. This alteration was made to 'Baragoola' during 1931-1932.
In line with regulations requiring improved crew accommodation, facilities were progressively removed from the poorly ventilated spaces below the main deck. In the 1920s all vessels were fitted with an officer's cabin behind each wheelhouse and in the 1940s additional cabins were added to the wheelhouses for the entire crews. This affected the vessels' stability and resulted in reduced passenger capacities from the 1950s.
'Baragoola' had been, during the early 1930s the subject of an experiment involving the use of pulverised coal in the boilers. In common with similar experiments involving steam locomotives, the venture did not prove to be a success and was abandoned. One consequence had been the covering of the ship with coal dust. Between 8 March and 3 August 1939 'Baragoola' was altered to an oil burner using tar under natural draught, like the three Scottish steamers. Propellers of improved design were also fitted at this time. For a period during World War II, the vessel reverted to burning coal owing to difficulties in obtaining supplies of tar. In about 1948 'Baragoola' was fitted with Brown Bros. Electro-hydraulic telemotor steering.
Some incidents during the 'Baragoola's time on Sydney Harbour include the collision with the Sydney Ferry SS 'Kosciusko' on 12th December 1926. In September 1927 the 'Baragoola' ran down a lifeboat in the harbour September 1927. On 28th August 1934 the 'Baragoola' collided with (and killed) a whale in Sydney Harbour.
'Barrenjoey' was converted to a motor vessel in 1949 and subsequently renamed 'North Head'. New diesel engines were acquired for both 'North Head' and 'Balgowlah' and were of the English Electric Co. Ltd. 7SKM type. In 1951 however the company was in grave financial circumstances after the conversion of 'North Head' and it was decided that the company could not bear the cost of reconditioning the hull and fitting new engines to 'Balgowlah'. On 30 June 1953 she was sold to J. Stride of Glebe for breaking up.
It was decided to fit the machinery intended for 'Balgowlah' into 'Baragoola'. 'Baragoola' ran for the last time as a steamer on 9 September 1958, and work commenced on 1 December. During the intervening period she had been held as a standby vessel. The work was carried out almost entirely at the company's Neutral Bay works.
The vessel's bunker capacity is 39 tons of oil. The straight stems and open seating at the ends of the promenade deck were retained, as was the wooden seating in the smoking saloon at the forward end of the main deck. The tall funnel was replaced by a shorter and wider one which was similarly located centrally. The lighting and the general appearance of the passenger accommodation was improved. The number of crew members was reduced to seven from the eleven required for the steamer. 'Baragoola' ran trials on 12 December 1960 and was first operated in revenue service on 26 December 1960. Regular operation commenced on 9 January 1961.
On 9 January 1974 it was reported that Brambles Industries Ltd., the new owners of the Port Jackson Company, intended withdrawing 'Baragoola' on 7 February and leaving the operation of the already much reduced service to 'North Head' and 'South Steyne'. This announcement and a further threat to close the conventional Manly ferry service altogether precipitated the decision of the NSW Government to arrange for the Public Transport Commission to take over the service as from 1 December 1974. As a result of this 'North Head' and 'Baragoola' were acquired by the government and continued on the Manly run until 1983. In 1983 the Eureka Education Foundation purchased the 'Baragoola' to establish a floating University. Waterview Wharf Workshops Pty. Ltd. acquired the vessel in 1986.
In November 1988 Waterview Wharf Workshops dry docked the vessel in the Captain Cook Floating Dock at Garden Island Dockyard. Extensive restoration work took place on her hull (Prescott and Willson 1979).