Type :
Iron paddlewheel steamer
Launched  :
Builder :
T B Seath & Company
Rutherglen, Scotland
Gross  :
417 tons
Dimensions :
67.11 x 7.00 (metres)
Passenger capacity :
Speed :
15 knots

Brighton was the forerunner of the Manly ferry fleet and was the biggest paddlewheeler to operate on Sydney Harbour. She was as long as the South Steyne and nearly as big as the current Freshwater class of ferries. At 15 knots, her speed was faster than the 14 knots that the Freshwater vessels operate at. Brighton was the last Manly ferry to be built overseas until the Curl Curl, Dee Why and South Steyne over fifty years later.

Brighton was a double ended steel vessel with a wooden superstructure. She had an open promenade deck on the roof of the main deck with canvas awnings. Amidships was a smoking salon under the navigation bridge, itself originally open and later closed in. The main deck had three salons, one of which was for ladies use only. Outside seating was wooden benches, but interior seats were covered in velvet. Brighton was luxuriously appointed including amongst her fittings cages of singing canaries. She is largely credited with opening up Manly to the tourist trade during her 32 years of operation.

Brighton sailed under her own power from Scotland.  For the trip she had been rigged with two masts to provide sails to help with her steam engines. Her trip to Australia was not an easy one; she ran aground three times, weathered a huge storm in the Indian Ocean and ran out of coal, requiring the crew to burn her wooden deck cladding to enable her to make it to Sydney. The storm in the Indian Ocean gave her a battering - part of her upper deck was carried off, cladding was torn off, all of the windows on one side of the ship were smashed and deck furniture and fittings were damaged. The storm pelted her for eight days. A few days later she encountered heavy seas that swamped all her accomodation and flooded the coal stokehold. She managed to reach Thursday Island only by burning the decking, cabin doors and other parts of the ship. Just off Townsville, she struck a hidden sandbank; fortunately she had no damage and managed to pull herself off. 89 days after leaving Scotland, she arrived in Sydney in a very sorry state. She was patched up and quickly put into service joining the Fairlight and Brightside.

Brighton figured prominently in the rescue of the Manly in 1901 after that ferry nearly ran aground near the Heads. In heavy seas she took her passengers off and towed the ferry to safety. Brighton herself was nearly lost in 1900 when she collided with and was holed by the collier Brunner. Fortunately she was able to be run up onto the beach near Clifton Gardens.

By the end of her life Brighton was much run down - her silver and metal fiitings were tarnished and her seating was described as "decrepit and dirty".

With the arrival of the B class ferries, the days of the paddlewheelers were to come to an end. Brighton was sold to Burns Philp in 1916 and was taken to Port Stephens and hulked. Stripped of her finery, she was used for many years as a store ship until she was abandoned. She remained mostly intact until 1973 when scrap metal merchants stripped much of her steel. Today, her wreck can still be seen in The Duckhole at Port Stephens and her remains are covered by a preservation order.