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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 single screw Iron steam ship Mullogh of 1855


In 1858 Robert Shaw and Walter Savill left the employment of Willis, Gann and Company to form their own shipping line, it would serve the New Zealand emigrant service for 125 years.  That same year they appointed Richard Dalgety of Lyttelton to be their agent at the principal port of the province of Canterbury.

In that first year Shaw, Savill and Company dispatched nine passengers vessels to the colony. Their enterprise prospered to the extent that within 15 years they would be sending emigrant ships to the remotest of nations at the rate of one every five days.  It would not be until this time that larger sailing ships would be able to berth at a Lyttelton wharf and until then they were obliged to anchor in the outer harbour, from where passengers and cargo were brought ashore by smaller vessels and lighters.

By 1859 Dalgety needed a suitable craft to service the ships arriving at his port and looked across the Tasman Sea for a vessel that could not only bring the emigrants and their luggage ashore, but also tow sailing ships into and out of the harbour, should the wind not be in the right quarter (in 1878 the Himalaya had to wait for ten days outside Wellington harbour before she could slip into port).  The ideal vessel was located on the Manning River, she was an Iron hulled single screw steam ship and only four years old.   This is her story.


Registered number : 8191
Registered Tonnage : 69.39 gross, 46.13 net.
Length over all: 60 feet
Beam: 15 feet.
Propulsion: single 15 horsepower, horizontal cylinder steam engine.
Type: Ketch
Cargo capacity: 60 tons
Ship's company: 5

A somewhat stylised profile depicting the vessel after the removal of the mainmast.

Detail from a later oil painting in the Lyttelton Museum,
probably showing the vessel in the early 1920's.

Iron hulled, screw driven steam ships were still something of a radical approach to maritime design when New Zealand's first Iron hulled steamer began a career that was to span nearly seventy years. In her time she was used as a sailing ship tender, a tug, a coastal trader and to transport passengers and cargo from the port of Lyttelton over the treacherous Sumner bar to the wharves on the Heathcote River.  She also made several trips to Hokitika on the West Coast, with supplies for the early Gold miners. Ending her long working life as a fishing boat, her 146 year old hulk can still be seen at the ship's graveyard on the West side of Quail Island in Lyttelton Harbour.

1855    Built by Coates and Young at Belfast, Ireland.  A predecessor to Harland & Wolff, they had been building small iron steamers at their foundry on Queen's Island in the River Lagan since 1838. After six years of experimentation, the modern propeller had been patented by Robert Griffiths in 1855, thus almost certainly making the Mullogh the earliest surviving vessel of her kind.

1857    Sailed to Melbourne where she was used by Edward Blaxland on the Australian coastal trade. She later worked out of the Manning River, which is located on the New South Wales coast, 350 km North of Sydney

1859    June 1   Purchased by Richard Butler Dalgety of Lyttelton and John Maclean, merchant of Christchurch for £1,600 from Edward James and William Blaxland of Newington, Sydney.

1859    June 29   Captain Lovett stowed her funnel and propellor in the hold and after a twenty two day voyage from Sydney, she arrived at Lyttelton under sail, with a cargo of bricks.  Among the passengers on the voyage was Edward Green, a telegraph engineer, who had the charge of constructing New Zealand's first telegraph line between Lyttelton and Christchurch.

1859    December    J. C. Aikman, the Heathcote Ferry operator and wharfinger was appointed as her Christchurch agent and she was advertised as carrying mixed cargo from Lyttelton to anywhere in Christchurch at twenty five shillings per ton. In competition with the paddle steamer Planet, the service was weekly and her owners received a subsidy from the Christchurch City Council. Running costs were said to be £100 a month plus insurance and she usually sailed with her hold around ¾ full.

1860    June    Registered at the port of Lyttelton by George Buckley, merchant of Lyttelton, a partner in the firm of Dalgety, Buckley and Company and sometime member of the provincial council and parliament.

1860    The competition from a number of vessels trading from Lyttelton to the Heathcote wharves at Christchurch and a down turn in trade led to her being laid up.

1861    Commenced trading to the port of Kaiapoi.

1861    October 3    Arrived at Port Chalmers with passengers from Lyttelton.

1863    Early    A discarded boiler from the Mullogh was obstructing a small crane at the end of the government jetty.

1863    March 14    The ketch Maria Elizabeth with a cargo of coal struck on the North spit of the Sumner bar and sank, her crew were rescued by the Mullogh.

1863    May 6    In April the Pilgrim, (right) a 50 horse power, broad-gauge locomotive arrived at Lyttelton from Slaughter and Company of Bristol.  The locomotive was transferred to the lighter Sarah, which was towed by the Mullogh to Ferrymead.  An anxious time ensued when an accident aboard the Mullogh meant that the two vessels had to put into Port Levy for the night for engine repairs to be carried out.  The tow was resumed the next day and to everyone's relief the Sumner bar was cleared without incident.  On the 28th of November 1863, Ferrymead became the terminus of the first steam railway line in New Zealand, which ran the 7 kilometres to Christchurch.  Carrying 3,500 passengers on the first day, the line started with forty wagons and four carriages, which had been built at Melbourne.

1865    August 25    Disaster struck when the vessel ran on to rocks off Cave Rock, Sumner, in a violent surf. She was run on to the North Spit to prevent her from sinking in mid-channel. The barrels of liquor that the Mullogh was carrying created a keen interest in beach-combing with 28 barrels eventually being recovered and put into bond by the Lyttelton Customs Officer.  She was then sold to George Holmes of Pigeon Bay, who refitted and used her until 1869, following the completion of his railway contract on the Lyttelton line.

1865    early September    Moved from the spit into the mid-channel where she sank.

1865    November    Purchased by George Holmes and J. D. Macpherson, she was salvaged and repaired, by the 6th of November she was ready to be re-launched.

1865     November     Made four return voyages between Lyttelton and Heathcote.

Mullogh on the Lyttleton slip way.

1867    Another cargo of note carried by the Mullogh was the statue of Christchurch's founding father; John Robert Godley (right), which now stands in Cathedral Square.

One of the great advantages of these small river craft was that they could be run up on the beach when repairs were necessary.  On one occasion the Mullogh was run up on the Heathcote river bank at Humbug Reach so that her main shaft could be repaired.  On another occasion she was run ashore in Lyttelton Harbour so that a new propeller could be fitted.  On each occasion she was floated off again on the next high tide.

During the construction of the Lyttelton railway tunnel, the wharf at Ferrymead on the Heathcote was a busy place, with rolling stock and tunnelling materials being unloaded.  As this made up the bulk of the cargo, control of the wharf was placed in the hands of the contractors, Holmes and Company.  Even after the line was opened the Provincial Government gave the contractors the responsibility of running both the railway and the wharf.  George Holmes was able to advertise that goods would be accepted at the shipside at Lyttelton and forwarded to Christchurch by steam lighter and railway for 14 shillings a ton.

Near the junction of Ferry Road and the Tunnel Road stands a memorial stone bollard.  This marks the approximate location of the Heathcote Wharf, the second wharf to be built on the river.  Opened on March 1, 1852, this wharf became popularly known as the Steam Wharf because it was the upper limit of the river accessible to the steamers of the day.

Above the Steam Wharf the river narrowed and navigation was more difficult.  On one occasion the Mullogh was taking a load of coal from Lyttelton to a flax mill up the Heathcote.  After discharging her load, the captain found it impossible to turn the vessel in the strong South-Westerly conditions prevailing.  It was necessary to steam the vessel very carefully, stern first, down to the Steam Wharf before it could be turned.

1869     January 8     The clipper ship Mermaid under charter to Shaw, Savill and Company and in the command of Captain Rose, arrived in Lyttelton harbour in the morning from London, after a passage of ninety four days. A large party including his honour the superintendent, Dr. Donald Rouse (health officer), and Captain Gibson (port officer), went down to her in the S S Mullogh and, on going alongside, they found that all were well on board.

1869     April 22     Carried passengers down the harbour to view H.M.S. Galatea, which was opened for inspection for several hours on the two days of her visit. Aboard was Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh; the twenty four year old second son of Queen Victoria.

1870    January 20    Ran excursions for Christchurch people to observe the Flying Squadron, the naval force under the command of Admiral Hornby.

1870s    Windy weather interfered with the ships trading to Le Bons Bay.  On one occasion the Mullogh and the Tongariro were both weather-bound in the bay.  An Easterly gale was blowing with heavy rain and the falling barometer promised worse to come.  With a full load of timber the captain of the Mullogh decided to raise steam and make a run for Sumner.  After battling the elements for two hours he found himself off the Bar with no pilot on duty.  Faced with the choice of riding out the storm at sea or risking the bar-crossing unaided, he chose the latter, fortunately without mishap.

1873    September 23    Berthed at the Scew-Pile Jetty where she was unloading cargo from the 1,415 ton Carisbrooke Castle, which was anchored in the stream.

1874    March 11    A barque was signalled from the South, and on the arrival of the Mongal, the captain reported the vessel to be the Dilharree.  Shortly after 2 p.m. the Health Officer and Emigration Commissioners, accompanied by His Honor the Superintendent, T. Maude Esq and others left in the Mullogh, and arrived alongside the ship.

1874    July 3    The ship Dunedin of 1,200 tons, arrived from Glasgow, with 500 immigrants.  She anchored on Thursday night some four miles outside the Heads.  Yesterday at 3 p.m., the Commissioners and Health Officer, accompanied by his Honour the Superintendent, left the wharf in the Mullogh and proceeded down to the ship, which was at that time laying at anchor; but when the steamer arrived alongside she was underway, the wind blowing fresh from N.E., and a flood tide.  The steamer at once took her in tow, and brought her up to an anchorage at 7.15 p.m.

1875    July 23    The White Rose, which was built in Quebec in 1874, got under way and with the assistance of the tug Mullogh came up to an anchorage off Stoddart Point.

1878    July 20    She also made several trips to Hokitika with supplies for the early gold miners.  On this occaision, whilst under the command of Severio Vernazon, she stranded on the North Spit of the Hokitika River as a consequence of a side-rod of the engine breaking when the vessel was crossing the bar.

Mullogh at anchor in 1893 (lower right).

1900    William Rueben Cooksley (1861 - 1933) a Publican of the British Hotel at Lyttelton bought the Mullogh and converted her into a fishing boat, she fished out of Lyttelton and also the port of Timaru until 1915.

1904    November 4    Nineteen hull plates were replaced prior to a survey. A subsequent Marine Department declaration indicates a change of ownership to David John Wildey, with M. J. Kay as Master.

1905    The Crankshaft, tailshaft and some bulwarks were replaced.

1906    The Deckhouse and some decking replaced.

1909    November 18    In the Lyttelton Graving Dock for her annual survey.

1910    November 11    Funnel replaced prior to survey. At this time a crew of five was headed by Arthur Tomlinson as Master and the owner was Samuel Buckingham.

1916    Reputed to have been ordered out of the inner harbour as a derelict.  There was some interest shown at the time by Harland and Wolff in shipping the Mullogh back to Belfast, Northern Island, for restoration, but this plan never eventuated, due mainly to the intervention of World War I.

1917    Based at the Governor's Bay wharf.

1922    May 9    Improvements to the equipment of the ship's boat indicate that she was still in survey at this time.

1923    Stripped and beached on Quail Island, where she lies today with her second boiler still in place.

A newspaper photograph from 1927 or 1928
captioned: "Superannuated - The S. S. Mullogh"

Above: photographed in 1936
with the remains of the steam lighter Lyttelton beached in 1907 (right).

The following sequence of six photographs were taken in the early 1980's by James Turner. Enlarged copies open in a new browser window.

Bow views

A Bow and two stern views




A portion of the ship's Teak rail is now in the Lyttelton Museum.

2001    August 23    It is understood that Brian Lintott, director of the Ferrymead Heritage Park at Heathcote, Christchurch, has sought to have the vessel moved from the designated archaeological site on Quail island to Ferrymead to be conserved for display.  However, it is reported that the New Zealand Department of Conservation will probably not allow this to happen.

A feasibility study by Lincoln University students is now in progress.  It is evaluating a proposal for the construction of a replica of the historic vessel at the Ferrymead Heritage Park.  Expressions of interest are now being sought from potential sponsors and builders.


Thanks to James Turner, the Lyttelton Museum, Steven McLachlan (specialist in Maritime Covers) and Marcus Castell

This page is part of the Historic Hulks and Wrecks of Lyttelton Harbour section of the
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