Lady Northcott

Lady Northcott

Type :
Steel motor vessel
Launched  :
Builder :
New South Wales State Dockyard
Newcastle, NSW
Gross weight :
366 tons
Dimensions :
4.90 x 10.37 (metres)
Passenger capacity :
811 (718 in Manly service)
Speed :
13 knots

Lady Northcott is the oldest of the Lady ferries still in government service on the harbour. Much like the Lady Herron she is mainly used as a cruise boat and on the Mosman and Taronga Zoo runs. She is also kept as a spare boat for the Manly run. Along with the Lady Wakehurst she became vital to the Manly service in the mid 1970's. After the sale of the Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Co to Brambles, the Manly ferries were allowed to detiorate. By 1974 the Manly fleet was so run down that the government took over the remaining two ferries (Baragoola and North Head). The government took the opportunity to modify both Lady Wakehurst and Lady Northcott (both being built at the time) to allow them to operate on the Manly route. Both ferries received upper deck entrances to cope with the greater passenger capacity.

By 1975 Baragoola was out of service on an extended refit and Lady Wakehurst had gone to Hobart to assist after the collapse of the Derwent Bridge. Lady Northcott was pressed into service on the Manly run on the 18th of January of that year. Neither boat was really suitable for the work they were doing in that passenger capacity was around half that of the two big Manly ferries. In comparison, the original ferry named Manly had a capacity the same as the two Lady ferries - a good indication of just how much the Manly trade has grown. As well they were being run flat out at 13 knots all the time (still slower than the minimum of 14 knots that Baragoola could do). As a result there were mechanical problems as the two harbour ferries were over-worked. In 1977 Lady Northcott had suffered damage to her bow and had been taken out of service. Lady Wakehurst was back in Sydney just in time to return to the Manly service.. With the Baragoola still out being refitted, North Head was doing the run on her own. One can only imagine the journey on these inner harbour ferries across the Heads in bad weather.

Lady Northcott most recently operated to Manly in February 2006, remarkably, she was paired with the retired Lady Wakehurst. This was due to the Collaroy being out of service with extended engine problems and two other Manly ferries having broken down.

Following a refit in 2002 (along with Lady Herron) Lady Northcott should see service until 2018. By then she'll be 43 years old. The retirement of these two ferries will see the end of the traditional double ended ferries on Sydney Harbour - Sydney Ferries Corporation and the state government seem enamoured by catamarans.