April 2022 saw the culmination of Sydney Heritage Fleet’s SWAP program

This saw the successful re-float of 1927 steamship John Oxley from atop its work barge, and replacement with the 1912 Sydney Harbour ferry Kanangra. This was a huge job that has involved an enormous number of hours contributed by SHF members.

New boiler – Installation by Polaris Marine’s floating crane

Next big job for the Heritage Fleet is the completion of the new boiler install on the 1902 steamer Lady Hopetoun. This will be the Lady’s fourth boiler and the original 3 drum watertube design has been faithfully retained. The layout and dimensions of this next boiler are the same as the 1920 riveted boiler, but the new steam drums and tubes are built to the current welded boiler code.

Lady Hopetoun was designed by the renowned local naval architect Walter Reekes and built by Watty Ford in North Sydney. Launched in 1902, she entered service as the vice regal steamer for the Sydney Harbour Trust and has been a special part of Sydney’s history since then. Presented to Sydney Heritage Fleet in 1965, Lady Hopetoun has been extensively restored and today is kept in commercial passenger carrying survey condition.

The pressure parts for the new boiler were built by McColl Manufacturing in Cardiff, NSW and delivered to the SHF workshops at Rozelle Bay. The Lady’s engineers then commenced fabrication of a new steel and firebrick boiler casing. Then, while the boiler space was empty the bilges and boiler room were cleaned and painted out. The team were also overhauling the canopy and deckhead.

Then COVID lockdowns hit and work was stopped for many months. When these restrictions eased, teams returned and a March 2022 highlight saw the completed boiler with new ashpit craned back into Lady Hopetoun’s boiler room.

Current work has included the annual docking that saw underwater valves overhauled, some caulking and then the usual inspections and antifouling. Engineers are busy running steam pipes and reconnecting the many services that a steam plant requires. Other volunteers are finishing off the top canopy and the funnel must be reinstalled. Then there will be a lot of painting and polishing as this historic vessel is returned to operation.

This is a fascinating project and many are keen to see Lady Hopetoun back steaming on Sydney Harbour. Many more volunteers are needed to join the team. If you are interested in volunteering for this project, we would love to have you on board!

Best contact is email vservices@shf.org.au

Lady Hopetoun


Are you interested in old boats and ships and like getting out on the waters of Sydney Harbour? Are you a vintage steam enthusiast? Lady Hopetoun and 1902 steam tug Waratah need more stokehold volunteers (stokers) over our coming steaming season. Interested? Come out on one of our steamships as a guest crew-person. You will be given an induction and the chance to experience stokehold work on one of our steamships.