The [Sydney] Shipping Gazette reports the arrival on the 3 Jan 1846, of the Keera, steamer, 113 tons, Samthull ([Master], from Southampton, 18th August, , Passengers Mr James Muthank and wife, and family, and James Faley.
The iron shipbuilding trade continues to flourish here. Mr. Thomas Toward, of St. Peter's, launched a most beautiful iron screw vessel for the Sydney trade on Wednesday afternoon. The owner, H. G. Smith, Esq., was present with a large party, besides many hundreds collected to witness the scene. The day being fine, and many gay flags flying, guns firing, and the presence of a great number of ladies, rendered the launch one of the most gay and animated scenes imaginable. The vessel, which was named the Keira, glided beautifully into the water amidst the deafening cheers of the assembled crowd. Messrs. Robert Stephenson and Co , of this town, supply the engines to her, and altogether there is no doubt that this vessel will prove that nowhere can better or cheaper iron vessels be built than on the Tyne, The Keira is advertised to sail the 10th of May.
Newcastle Journal, 19 April, 1851.
We have much pleasure in announcing the arrival from England of this valuable addition to our list of Australian steamers. The Keera has been built to the order of Messrs. Smith, Croft, and Co., by Mr. Thomas Toward. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She is an iron screw-propeller boat, of 169 tons, allowing 55 tons for her engine room. She has two highly finished condensing engines, with tubular boilers, of 30 Horse-power each, constructed, with all the latest improvements, at the establishment of Robert Stephenson, the celebrated locomotive engineer. Of the finish of these admirable specimens of engineering science it is impossible to speak too highly. The contract was for the engines to perform 50 strokes per minute ; and during the eight hour trial from Newcastle to Sunderland and back (which short trial was all that the pressing arrangements for the Keera's departure would allow), she made 48 strokes per minute ; and from this proof of her qualities, it is confidently expected that 53 strokes per minute will be performed by her in these seas. However, taking the contract arrangement, viz., 50 strokes per minute, the speed of her screw would be 17 knots per hour; and the average speed of the vessel is estimated at from 11 to 12 knots per hour. The dimensions of the Keera are as follow:
Length of keel. . . . . . . . . 96 feet.
Overall . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 feet
Breadth of beam . . . . . . 20 6-12.
Depth of hold .. . . . . . . . 10 4-10.
With the full cargo which she brought hither, say 70 tons of heavy goods. Including anchors, chains, and other kinds of hardware, the Keera only drew 6 feet 6 inches. on entering the port. Her passage from England under canvas, was a long one, namely, 130 days from the Isle of Wight ; and this arose from various causes. In the first place, her " steamer masts" and rigging were far too light for a long sailing voyage ; secondly, she encountered a succession of heavy weather from St. Paul's to Van Diemen's Land; which, however, proved her to be a strong, safe, and lively sea-boat, she having carried away neither spars nor sails, and weathering the gale, or rather series of gales, with the loss only of one boat, and some trifling damage to her starboard bulwark. The state of the weather forbade her making the passage of Bass Straits, and she accordingly went round to the south of Van Diemen's Land, and on making this coast was blown off to the eastward for some time. We believe it almost unnecessary to add, that she has been expressly built for the Sydney and Wollongong coasting trade, for which berth she will be ready, so soon as the necessary refittings, after so long and boisterous a voyage, are completed.
As the first screw-propeller boat in the Australian trade, and as an admirable specimen of modern engineering, the Keera will be warmly welcomed by the colonists ; and to those who are immediately interested in having a swift and comfortable means of conveyance between Sydney and Wollongong, the elegant and well appointed cabins, in which both style and comfort have been carefully considered ; the arrival of this vessel will be a matter of material congratulation.
SG 10 Jan 1852
The Keera - This fine vessel started on her trial trip on Tuesday, and the interesting spectacle of the first screw propelled steamer leaving a wharf in Sydney was cheered by a number of individuals there assembled ; it was a most pleasing and exciting evidence of the perfect state of the machinery, to see that although the wheels had been motionless in the hold during the long voyage from England, they at once worked like clock-work : that the tubular boiler, with its multifarious tubes, immediately produced the all-powerful steam, to turn the invisible moving power - the screw - situated in an aperture in the dead wood, just before the sternpost of the vessel. Invisible, yet so powerful in its action on the water, that the Keera almost instantly assumed a speed of eight or nine knots, gliding forward gracefully as a black swan, without the clatter of paddle wheels. She was very uniform in her rate of speed on her way down the harbour : and on entering the waves of the ocean her speed rather increased, and she ran from the outer South Head to Cape Banks, Botany, in one hour and 18 minutes, the distance being upwards of thirteen statute miles and amidst the congratulations of the party on board, the Keera entered those portentous Heads between which Cook first, and Phillip eighteen years afterwards, entered as the harbingers of Australian colonization.
This commencement of screw-propelled steam navigation was well begun by a trip to that estuary where Providence first led our great navigator, and all persons on board seemed animated by the sentiments which the event was so well calculated to inspire. Sir Thomas L. Mitchell and a few other scientific and professional gentlemen bad been invited by the owners to accompany them on the trip which promises to be an event of importance to the whole country along the Southern coast. This is but a beginning, but who can imagine the probable results on an inhabited country almost without roads, teeming with treasures, and with a seaboard of upwards of 1800 miles. We must not in this brief notice omit mention of the name of Mr. Henry Gilbert Smith, who upwards of twenty years ago introduced steam navigation to the shores of Australia, and who now, by the introduction of the Keera has been the first to bring a screw-propeller steamer to the colony. The Keera commences her regular tripe to Wollongong on Saturday next.
SG 14 Feb 1852. Page 49.
^ back to top ^