Lady Cutler

Lady Cutler

Type :
Steel motor vessel
Launched  :
Builder :
New South Wales State Dockyard
Newcastle, NSW
Gross weight :
404 tons
Dimensions :
36.18 x 8.85 (metres)
Passenger capacity :
Speed :
11 knots

See also our special restoration diary page.

In 1968 the NSW state government embarked on a ferry building program. The existing fleet of inner harbour ferries were ageing and near to being retired. The first of  seven new Lady class vessesls was introduced to begin the replacement program. Lady Cutler was the first of the new design. She would be followed by two identical sisters (Lady Woodward and Lady McKell), two bigger sisters (Lady Wakehurst and Lady Northcott) and two smaller twin funnel sisters (Lady Street and Lady Herron). The last of the class was introduced in 1979.

Lady Cutler was laid down in March of 1968 and was in passenger service seven months later beginning her first passenger run on the 8th of October. Her design (and that of her sisters) was quite different to the earlier harbour ferries but clearly derived from the typical double ended ferries that had been in use for most of the century.

Having learnt from the mistake of the Kooleen (1956), she was built with outside seating and two decks. Kooleen was completely enclosed and unpopular with the travelling public (conversely she was popular with her masters due to the high bridge giving an unrestricted view).

When introduced, she was painted in the new blue and white colours in use on the state buses and trains. With the inevitable rust streaks and green slime they looked awful and modifications in the colour scheme were made to offset these discolourations. As built, Lady Cutler and her sisters had an almost austere and severe look - the seating was hard plastic and designed to be vandal resistant. The warmer wooden interiors of the older ferries were gone.

By 1992 Lady Cutler had been withdrawn from service. She had been laid up at Rozelle Bay with engine & hull problems since the previous year. She was later sold to Melbourne concerns who planned to operate her on Port Phillip Bay as cruise vessel (similar to the Lady McKell (now Victoria Star)). However, by late 2004 she was in poor condition, boarded up and down at one end due to the removal of one engine.

In May 2007 the new owners have advised that she is to be returned to service as a cruising vessel and efforts to renovate her are underway. She is due to travel to Portland shortly (under her own power) for slipping. She has received the masts, anchor & anchor chain from the now scrapped Lady Street. The current owners (since 1998 Shannon Harper) plan to restore her to her original blue & white colours.