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Bandsaw Steve

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About Bandsaw Steve

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    Very Obsessed Member

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  • Location
    Western Australia
  • Interests
    Aviation, History, WW2, painting, modelling

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  1. SS Xantho – History Before I start, I wish to make it clear that this summary of ‘Xantho’s’ history is collated from the work of others – notably Dr ‘Mac’ MacCarthy’ of the Western Australian Maritime Museum. None of the original research behind this is my own. I'm going to break this story into three parts - 'Success', 'Failure', and 'Resurrection'. Each with it's own post. It's kind of 'The Rise and Fall and Rise' of the SS Xantho. Part 1 - Success On 13 May 1848 – at a time when the art and science of iron-hull shipbuilding was still in its formative years - a contract was struck between the famous shipbuilding company ‘Denny Brothers’ (later William Denny and Brothers) of Dumbarton Scotland and the ‘Anstruther and Leith Steamship Company’ who needed a paddle-steamer - with auxiliary sail - to run a reliable ferry service across the Firth of Forth between Leith (Edinburugh) and Aberdour. The contract stipulated that this small vessel – of just 157 tonnes and 101.3 feet (length between perpendiculars) would be completed in no more than four months. The vessel was to be the PS Xantho. Xantho is the Greek prefix meaning ‘yellow’ and although it is unclear why this somewhat unusual name was chosen, a common speculation is that it is due to the known fact that the builder’s contract specified that her decks were to be constructed from ‘Quebec Yellow Pine’. By the end of 1848 this brand-new paddle steamer was complete. The start of her career was met with a degree of fanfare and celebration from communities on the Northern Side of the Firth of Forth who were most pleased to have the benefit of a modern and reliable steam-powered ferry service. In addition, records indicate numerous visits and excursions to Anstruther and even as far afield as Scarborough, Wick and Perth. (Perth in Scotland that is - not Western Australia!) Indications are that Xantho excelled in these roles, and I know of no indication of any mishaps or misadventures concerning her operations in Scotland. By 1871 however the ship was ageing and paddle steamers were becoming obsolescent. Screw propulsion was now widely recognised as superior in almost all regards. Xantho was sold to a Glasgow based metal merchant, Mr Robert Stewart, presumably with the expectation that she would be scrapped. But this did not happen. Instead Mr Stewart completely re-configured and ‘modernised’ the vessel. He added 3m to her overall length, removed the paddles and replaced them with a single screw and fitted a completely new engine. He then offered it for sale. Meanwhile, Mr Charles Edward Broadhurst, a most adventurous and entrepreneurial individual born in Manchester in 1826 but subsequently emigrated to Australia, was seeking to purchase a coastal steamer for use in Western Australia. There were many good reasons that he needed a steamer, he had business operations - pastoralism and pearling - in the North Western corner of Western Australia and knew first-hand just how difficult communications and transport in this most remote and imposing region could be. The strong currents, extreme tides, few harbours and restricted harbour entrances made operating sailing ships particularly challenging and hazardous in this area. A small steamship seemed like a good idea and there were none in Western Australia at this time. The colonial government was of a similar view and offered a financial incentive for whoever could first set up a regular tramp steamer service out of Fremantle. This offer had not escaped Broadhurst’s keen eye for any opportunity to turn a profit. And so it came to be that Mr Broadhurst purchased the now ‘SS Xantho’ and sailed this small one-time coastal ferry, all the way from Glasgow, through the Suez Canal, to Sri Lanka, on to Jakarta and – arriving in early 1872 - to Fremantle, Western Australia. He was met with a hero’s welcome. Broadhurst lost no time in taking the Xantho North again and in 1872 managed two complete round trips between Fremantle and Jakarta stopping, of course, at any locations required along the way. During this time Xantho carried a wide variety of cargos including livestock and produce from the North-West. He also experimented with using Xantho as a base for his pearling (more correctly mother of pearl) diving operations. He also carried passengers, including four indigenous elders who the colonial authorities had, uncharacteristically, freed from imprisonment on Rottnest island and were allowing to return to their ancestral homes. Controversially he also used the ship to carry ‘Malay divers’ (generally young boys it seems) from Indonesia to Western Australia to work in his pearling operations. At this point things seemed to be working out for Mr Broadhurst – Xantho was looking like a successful proposition. Things were about to change…
  2. Ok....Ok.... if it’ll keep you lot happy I’ll stick some navigation & cabin lights in this thing. At least this Suggestion came up before I’ve built the ship rather than with Carpathia when everyone started screaming for lights after the thing was damned-near finished!
  3. Thomas Edison took out his first patent for an ‘Electric, incandescent bulb’ in 1878. Xantho sank in 1872. So yes - it is about six years too early to mention lights. Apparently the gap in the reef you travelled through is called ‘Gold Digger’s passage’ I don’t know why but I bet there’s a story behind that too.
  4. Nice to have you along for the ride. Now you might better understand why I watched your ‘La Fauvette’ build with great interest.
  5. Fair enough Marklo. I have numerous future aviation projects in mind so it’s only a matter of time before I’m back here and we catch up again. Besides this 504 thread isn’t finished so you haven’t seen the last of me yet.
  6. Excellent! I can see a use for a man with your in-depth knowledge of smallish, historical, civilian vessels on this project.
  7. Xantho was only 37m long; small even by the standards of her time. At 1/72 the model will be 51 cm long. In this case I have no choice, it is mandated that the model be full-hull. This weekend I will follow up the opening post with one on the ship’s history and another on the planned model.
  8. SS Xantho OK Aviation Fans, the Avro 504 project is getting towards it's natural conclusion - finally - so it's time to start another project. As @bar side, @Stevejj and @Murdo have correctly worked out above, it's now time for me to move back to the maritime section where will I have a crack at modelling a single screw tramp steamer - the SS Xantho. This was the first ever steamer to operate in Western Australia and is a ship with a truly unique history. This Avro 504 thread will continue however, as the Avro will be finished before work starts on the Xantho. It's just that there's no harm in getting some maritime research underway before cutting some wood! Best Regards, Bandsaw Steve
  9. SS Xantho, Western Australia's First Steamship. St George's Terrace is the main business thoroughfare of Perth and every 20 metres or so along its length, embedded in the footpath is a plaque similar to the one shown below. Each plaque commemorates a year in the history of Western Australia and the most eminent person in the state that year. There are some names you may have heard of; Allan Bond and Bob Hawke for example - I note that Rolf Harris's one has recently disappeared!? But most of the names are those of administrators, academics or business people whose stories are now forgotten by all except their decedents or the most ardent of local history buffs. In the course of my years of work in this city I must have walked past this plaque hundreds - probably thousands - of times without noticing it or giving it a moment's thought. 1870 - Charles Edward Broadhurst - Pearler... About two year's ago, on a lunch break, I dropped into my favourite bookshop and while perusing the local history section found this recently published book. The nautical cover caught my attention. I wondered if there would be schematic drawings inside. I'm always looking for schematic drawings. There were a few sketches in the book, but none of the four-view technical profiles and cross-sections I was hoping for. There was however this artist's impression of a most fetching looking 19th century steamship; The SS Xantho. I started to read and once I started into her story - and that of her owner Mr Broadhurst - I could not stop. It turns out that this vessel - and a rather extraordinary vessel she was in certain regards - was Western Australia's first ever steamship. I'm not going to try to tell her history to you right now, because that would make for a very long introductory post and I am anticipating that this project could last for some time. We can discuss her history in detail later. Suffice to say that this ship sank in November 1872 at Port Gregory, a tiny, tiny settlement 500 km North of the state capital Perth. (See the map below.) Fortunately no lives were lost. Following her loss she was essentially forgotten and sat undisturbed for more than 100 years and was of no apparent significance beyond being a hazard to navigation. The red arrow shows the position of her wreck, right at the entrance to the harbour and the yellow arrow the site of the only jetty for scores of nautical miles in any direction. But in 1983 Xantho was re-discovered by staff of the Western Australian Maritime museum and, due to a number of extraordinary and completely unforeseen factors she was about to be propelled to global fame - at least within the world's maritime archeology community. In the words of Dr 'Mac' MacCarthy, the world's leading expert on Xantho - 'This ship is world famous - in certain circles'. I think it's a shame so few other people have heard of her. Once the Avro 504 is finished I'm going to build a model! Be warned though Britmodeller maritime folks I have great plans for this one, and I'm going to need all the help and expertise that I can get, because this promises to be a research nightmare! Very Best Regards, Bandsaw Steve.
  10. I dunno so much... The other day I mentioned the phrase ‘Single screw tramp steamer’ to one of my work colleagues- and she slapped me there and then! If you say the phrase ‘Paddle Steamer’ often enough and with a kiwi accent it starts to sound like ‘Piddle Streamer’ pretty soon..
  11. I like pre-dreadnoughts me - so good choice of subject.
  12. Yes! Stick it all together mate! I’ve been looking forward to seeing this.
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