|Net tons||27 feet|
Eppleton Hall was built in 1914 (the year this photo
was taken) by the Hepple and Company of South Shields, England, for the
Lambton and Hetton Collieries, Ltd. The vessel, named after the Lambton
family's ancestral home, was designed to tow ocean-going colliers
(coal-carrying vessels) to and from the port of Newcastle on the River
Tyne. Coal was a booming business, and days of transit time were saved
by towing the sailing vessels upriver to load. The vessel was also used
to tow newly-built ships out to sea.
Eppleton Hall, a
steam sidewheeler with side-lever engines, is the only remaining intact
example of a Tyne paddle tug. A direct descendent of the first craft to
go into commercial service as harbor tugs, the vessel was engaged on
the Wear and Tyne rivers of northeast England from 1914-1967. In 1946,
she was purchased by France Fenwick, Wear and Tyne Ltd., which operated
her in the Wear River until 1964 (she is being restored to this period
today). In 1952, the tug was modified slightly to obtain a Passenger
Certificate, so that she could transport officials from newly-launched
steamers (after the boats had completed their sea trials). Her last
commerial owner was the Seaham Harbour Dock Board, which operated her
from 1964 to 1967.
She was sold for scrap in 1967 (as this photo
illustrates) and, while sitting on a mud bank, fire (part of the
scrapping process) destroyed her wooden afterdeck and interior. From
1969-1979 Eppleton Hall served as a private yacht, during
which time she was modified for an epic steam (via the Panama Canal) to
San Francisco, passing through the Golden Gate in March of 1970 (when
this photo was snapped).
The vessel was donated to the National Park Service in 1979. She is now berthed at Hyde Street Pier.
A new museum group in Sunderland, England (where the Eppleton Hall was built) is trying to preserve the 1864 City of Adelaide
(the worlds oldest clipper ship) -- and they are also interested in
other surviving ships and boats with connections to their port. After
hearing about their plans, the park inquired if the group might have
any information about the park's own Eppleton Hall. The new-to-us photo above is the result! Click on the image for a larger view.