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This website is developed from the site originally conceived developed & maintained by Marcus Castell and associates. Opinions are those of the various authors of the articles, and are not those of the NZ National Maritime Museum unless specifically noted. Information in this site has been updated to 2002 and will be progressively updated as resources allow. More information on historic ships (etc) is contained in the MARITIME INDEX website
The Lake Steamer Ben Lomond of 1872


Length:     82.8 feet.

Beam:     12.8 feet.

Depth:     6.7 feet.

Draught:     5 feet laden (no keelsons).

Type:     Lowmoor iron hulled twin screw steamer, single deck; one mast; cutter rig.

Displacement:     46.30 tons gross; 33.47 tons net.

Propulsion:     Two compound jet condensing high pressure steam engines developing 30 horsepower at 160 r.p.m. These were of the compound, non-condensing type. Cylinder diameters: 1 3/8 inches (high pressure), 20 1/16 inch (low pressure); cylinder stroke, 14 inch; slide valves. The engine was designed and built by Joseph Hambleton of Dunedin. The boiler was of the vertical tubular type with a pressure of 80 lbs. per square inch.

Service speed:     9.24 knots.

Passenger capacity:     131, including 120 passengers on the deck, and 11 in the cabin.

Cargo capacity:     25 tons.

Official number:     61008.


1872     February 10     Above: launched as the Jane Williams at the mouth of the Town Creek, Queenstown by Messrs Sparrow and Thomas of Dunedin for Miss Mary Williams, her brother John R. Williams and Mr. George Archer at a cost to them of £3,500. John Williams had previously built himself a cottage at Queenstown in 1864, it is now the township's oldest house.

1872     March 26     Registered at the Port of Dunedin as vessel number 1 of 1872.

circa 1880.

1885     A Scotch marine-type boiler with wet-back return tube and the same pressure was fitted.

1886     May 12     The vessel's name was changed to Ben Lomond after the adjacent 1,746 metre (5,747 feet) mountain.  For many years she became known as "The Ben."

1902     November 3     Above: purchased by the Crown for £3,350. The super-structure added for greater passenger comfort and better navigation and she was repainted in the livery of the Railways Department.

1933     Above: The Hillside, Dunedin workshops of the Railways Department built a new Scotch marine-type steel boiler for the steamer.

1920s     circa     Fitted with a stay-sail to steady her in cross seas until this time.

A rather battered Ben Lomond nearing the end of her career.

1951     June 30     After many years as the oldest vessel on Lloyd's Register (steamers in Switzerland and Peru were older), she was withdrawn from service.

Circa 1930
showing the collision damage on the bow which remained until she was scuttled.

1952     October 28     All her salvageable parts were removed and she was towed out into Kingston Bay and sunk in 600 feet of water.

Other Lake Wakatipu Steamers

Above: moored at Queenstown are the Railways Department's Lake steamers Antrim of 1868 and on the right, the 108 ton Mountaineer of 1879. Although neither has survived, the Antrim's steam engine and boiler are still in use at the Kinloch slipway and are used to haul the Earnslaw out for her bi-annual survey.

The Paddle Steamer Antrim of 1868

The Paddle Steamer Mountaineer of 1879

The Twin Screw Steamer Earnslaw of 1911


Mackay, Malcolm
Lady of the Lake     The TSS Earnslaw Story
Queenstown: Author, 1999. Pictorial card covers, 48 pp. Illustrated: colour and B&W plates, line drawings.

Meyer, R. J.
All Aboard     The Ships and Trains that Served Lake Wakatipu
Wellington: NZ Railway and Locomotive Society, 1980. 196 pp. Colour frontis. Illustrated: B&W plates and line drawings. Index.


Thanks to Scott Bennett for pics.

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