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PS ALEXANDER ARBUTHNOT on the Murray River in 2006

PS Alexander Arbuthnot

Vessel Number: HV000422
Date: 1923
Vessel Dimensions: 23.16 m x 4.65 m x 0.69 m, 40.65 tonnes (76 ft x 15.25 ft x 2.25 ft, 40 tons)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
PS ALEXANDER ARBUTHNOT is a Murray River paddle steamer built in 1923. It is understood to have been the last commercial paddle steamer built for use on the Murray River that forms the border of NSW and Victoria. It operated on the river until 1947 when it sank. In 1973 it was raised and subsequently restored, and is now operating with other paddle steamers as an excursion vessel based at Echuca. It still operates with its restored original engine and with its original cargo vessel arrangement is one of the few that can still interpret this form of the Murray River paddle steamer.
DescriptionPS ALEXANDER ARBUTHNOT was built at Koondrook on the Victorian side of the river near Barham by shipwright Charles Felshaw. It was built for the Alexander Arbuthnot Sawmill in Koondrook and named after the firm's founder. For about 20 years it served as a cargo vessel and towboat taking barges from the nearby forests to their mill. In 1942 it was sold to Barmah Charcoals and carried charcoal from the forests at Yielma and Barmah to Echuca. In 1943 one of the firm’s partners George Newman bought the vessel. In 1947 it sank at its moorings when the river rose rapidly.

It remained partially submerged for many years and the deckhouse was destroyed. In 1972 a salvage operation was begun and it was refloated on the 31st December 1972. The hull was then stripped and towed to Barmah. It then went by truck to Shepparton where it was restored to its original design. With a completely overhauled engine PS ALEXANDER ARBUTHNOT was then used to run excursions in a moat around the Shepparton International Village.

In 1988 more substantial repairs were needed, and it was sold to the Port of Echuca. It was transported there by road and underwent another extensive restoration, including new hull planking, a new deckhouse and new deck planking. A new boiler was installed and on the 8th December 1994 PS ALEXANDER ARBUTHNOT was commissioned again and joined the fleet at Port of Echuca as an excursion boat operating from the well known Echuca Wharf.

In 2010 it remains in operation, with the original Ruston Hornby engine now reconditioned again and still providing power after over 80 years service with PS ALEXANDER ARBUTHNOT.

Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber planked
Current status:floating
Current status:operational
Deck layout:multiple decks
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hull material and construction:iron
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:canoe stern/double endedDE
Hull shape:displacement
Hull shape:flat bottom
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:plumb stemvertical stem
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:transom rudder
Motor propulsion:paddle steamerpaddle wheelerPSsternwheeler
Motor propulsion:steam reciprocating
Propeller:side wheel
Related materials:drawings
Related materials:film
Related materials:interviews
Related materials:news clippings
Related materials:photos
Related materials:references
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel
Alternate Numbers

Official Number: 151809

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