Mersea Island Museum - Blackwater Ships


Ship:      PORT MELBOURNE
Arrived:18 February 1931
Departed:20 August 1931
Arrived 2:30 July 1934
Departed 2:7 January 1935
Arrived 3:9 August 1935
Departed 3:16 November 1935
Arrived 4:16 June 1936
Departed 4:20 January 1937
Career:STAR OF VICTORIA was built in 1914 by Workman, Clark & Co. at Belfast with a tonnage of 9152grt, a length of 503ft 4in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 13 knots. During her construction there was a shortage of riveters and compressed air rivet clenching was successfully substituted. She was designed for quick conversion into an emigrant carrier and in 1914 was converted to carry 1000 troops. She was completed on 10 January 1914 for J.P.Corry but on 23rd January was transferred to the Commonwealth & Dominion Line and in 1916 was renamed PORT MELBOURNE. In March 1917 she was requisitioned by the Shipping Controller under the Liner Requisition Scheme and immediately re-deployed on the meat run as the carriage of meat had become a priority. In 1919 she reverted to normal commercial trade and the passenger accommodation was reduced to twelve. She had a reputation, as did her sister, for wandering off course and in 1925 was fitted with a gyro compass controlled steering gear which was a new innovation at the time and supposedly cut the passage time from Melbourne to London by two days. In 1929 the management decided that as she was only fifteen years old it was worth the expenditure to re-engine her with Bauer-Wach exhaust turbines which increased fuel efficiency by some 15%-25% and to recover the cost over the following six years. Unfortunately the sudden slump in shipping trade began later that year and by 1931 she was laid up in the River Blackwater. Whilst laid up a fire broke out and the hot plating was doused by crew members and volunteers from other ships until the fire fighting equipment arrived. She was repaired on the Tyne and immediately laid up there. During 1936/7 she was again laid up in the River Blackwater until she returned to the meat run where she remained unscathed for the duration of the Second World War. On 18th May 1948 she arrived at Blyth, Northumberland and was broken up by Hughes, Bolckow.
Dates from Oyster Company ledger.
Tonnage:9,152 gross
Built:1914
Type:Refrigerated ship
Owner:Port Line
Official No:132046
ID1132046

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