Experiment







Experiment


Type :
Horse driven, later wooden paddlewheel steamer
Launched  :
1832
Builder :
John Russell
Williams River, NSW
Gross weight :
38 tons (loaded)
Dimensions :
79.8 x 12.60 x 5.50 (feet)
Passenger capacity :
unknown
Speed :
unknown

There is, unfortunately, not a great deal of information available on this rather unique vessel. Around the time she was launched there were several other vessels of this type in use in the USA. It is likely that, similar to other early colonial vessels, she was a twin hulled catamaran. What truly set her apart though was that she was powered by horses. She arrived in Sydney in September 1832 under sail and entered service shortly thereafter. She lasted on the Parramatta run for only two months but was not well regarded by her passengers. Initially, she would appear to have been a success - the trip upriver proceeded at six miles an hour and the return trip only took three hours. But there were problems with the motive power - on one occassion the horses refused to work and the boat needed rescuing by a tug as she drifted towards Sydney Heads - one can only imagine the distress of the passengers. In 1834 her original "powerhouse" was replaced by a steam engine and she returned to the Parramatta trade for the next ten years in this configuration. By 1844 she was laid up, unable to compete with bigger and faster vessels that had entered in competition against her. She was sold to Brisbane in 1846 and became the first steam ferry to service that city. For a couple more years she was used between Ipswich and Brisbane before sinking in January 1848. Her engines were re-used in a new paddlewheeler built the year after (PS Hawk). There is controversy over her eventual fate with some sources claiming she was scrapped, others saying she was raised for use as a barge. No contemporary illustrations of her in either of her configurations seem to exist.


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