16/01/2018 05:59 PM
Historic heritage vessel restored in Newcastle
A long-running heritage project to restore the William the Fourth steam ship is finally afloat after a successful trial voyage on Newcastle Harbour.
The William the Fourth restoration project is a community project that has brought volunteers together to restore a much-loved vessel with considerable historical significance to the region.
Image: the restored William the Fourth steamship
The original William the Fourth was built in 1831 and was the first ocean-going steam powered ship built in Australia. Constructed at the old Deptford Shipyards at Clarencetown NSW, the William the Fourth was designed to safely transport produce and people between Sydney and settlements along the coast during the early days of the state’s development. The ship sailed in Australian waters for 30 years before being sold and sent to Hong Kong.
In 1987, a replica of the ship was built and launched in Newcastle and was used for public cruises and private charters on the Hunter River and in ports along the NSW coast. The coal-fired replica operated for 14 years but was put out of service in 2001 due to the significant investment needed to bring the vessel up to modern operational standards.
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After a long period of fund raising and garnering support from the community, the restoration project was underway and work began to get the William the Fourth ship shape.
With a new diesel-powered twin engine and the restoration close to completion, the project sought to get onto the waters for a first trial run and contacted Port Authority of New South Wales for assistance.
Newcastle's Harbour Master gave the project team permission to take to the water, while a Port Authority marine pilot was called in to captain the vessel for the trial run.
Bob Cook, secretary for the William the Fourth restoration project said: “Everything went perfectly. The ship’s machinery performed well and we are now proceeding towards completion of survey and achievement of commercial licence.”
Image: the restoration team William the Fourth
The full restoration of the William the Fourth is expected to take place in April. The vessel is planned to be a significant draw for tourists and visitors to Newcastle and is set to be an iconic symbol of the city’s maritime history.