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The  Lawrence Historical Society's flood boat

Clarence River Flood Boat

Vessel Number: HV000710
Date: c1888
Previous Owner: Austin Bridge ,
Vessel type: Flood boats
Dimensions:
Vessel Dimensions: 6.4 m × 5.79 m × 1.68 m × 0.46 m (21 ft × 19 ft × 5.5 ft × 1.5 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Significance
The Clarence River flood boat is a timber skiff understood to have been built at an unknown date around the 1890s or early 1900s in NSW and used on the Clarence River in northern NSW. It was manned by volunteers and in regular use during flood times. It remains in good original condition to reflect the significance of this early volunteeer rescue work undertaken by regional communities.
DescriptionThe clinker craft has a typical construction configuration, with nine strakes per side, a strong gunwale but no inwale, a stringer, a riser for the six thwarts, a transom stern and a straight but slightly raked stem. There are three rowing positions.

Records from the period show that two wooden craft were dispatched in April and May of 1892, while an earlier record in 1890 notes plans for two craft to be supplied by the NSW government for the region, possibly in response to a community meeting and specific request for such a craft. The Clarence and Richmond Examiner noted that during the flood of March 1890 that the “flood boat and crew did excellent service not only at Lawrence but on Woodford island”. This location is just downstream from Lawrence.

1887 and 1890 saw heavy flooding in the region and severe effects, and the Sydney Illustrated News in 1892 highlighted the work put in by the volunteer brigade who manned the flood boats in dangerous circumstances. It noted that they had four serviceable craft, and a photograph from the period shows a number of craft in use including two skiffs very similar to the example held at the Lawrence Museum. Grafton further upstream had its own Water Brigade and shed, and other localities including Lawrence had their own Water Brigade and vessel, but not necessarily housed in its own dedicated building. As late as 1950 the wooden craft were still being used for flood relief work.

The craft was eventually retired and remains in good original condition as a rare example of the many craft of its type that were available for emergency flood work by the community over many decades.

Vessel Details
Deck layout:open
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:oar
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:sweep oar
Hull material and construction:clinkerglued lapstrakelapstrake
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:plumb stemvertical stem
Hull shape:plumb transomvertical transom

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