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Ship's wheel

Object information

Physical description

A ten-spoke wooden ship's wheel with "WESTERN MONARCH LONDON" inscribed in black on the front of the centre boss. The boss is made from cast brass and has a square hole through the middle. A flat brass ring has been set into both sides of the outer rim. Names have been crudely engraved or impressed in the side of the wooden rim along the outer edge of the brass rings.

Statement of significance

The Rank Hovis McDougall collection consists of a black metal kedge or fisherman's style anchor with two arms at the bottom and a metal bar, or stock, that runs through a hole at the top. There is a ring attached to the top of the anchor, above the stock, and two more rings half way down the shank, one on either side. The collection also contains a ten-spoke wooden ship's wheel with "WESTERN MONARCH LONDON" inscribed in black on the front of the centre boss. The boss is made from cast brass and has a square hole through the middle. A flat brass ring has been set into both sides of the outer rim. Names have been crudely engraved or impressed in the side of the wooden rim along the outer edge of the brass rings.

Built at Barrow-in-Furness (Barrow), Cumbria, by the Barrow Shipbuilding Company (Yard No 23) for the Royal Exchange Shipping Company in 1875, the full-rigged clipper, Western Monarch, was launched on 21 August, 1875. By 1876, Barrow, an industrial town and seaport, was home to the largest steelworks in the world and consequently developed a significant boatbuilding industry. Western Monarch was the oldest surviving ship built by Barrow Shipbuilding Company. Of iron and steel construction, weighing 1,385 tons, and 237 feet in length, the ship carried British emigrants from London to Australia and New Zealand from approximately 1875 to 1888. According to the Otago Witness newspaper (1878), the Western Monarch was ?fitted with all the latest improvements? and had ?splendid accommodation for passengers, her saloon being fitted up with great neatness as well as comfort?. The ship?s maiden voyage, under the command of Captain James Watson, was from London to Brisbane on 9 December, 1875 arriving in Brisbane on 15 March 1876. The Western Monarch was sold to Robert Thomas & Company of Criccieth and Liverpool, in 1888. In 1899, she was purchased by L Lydersen of Tvedestrand, Norway. The Western Monarch was subsequently converted to a barge and renamed Derg, after Lough Derg in County Limerick, Ireland. As late as 1957, the Western Monarch was plying Limerick Harbour, carrying grain for Rank Flour Mills Limited. Joseph Rank Limited merged with Hovis Mcdougall Limited in 1962 to form UK food manufacturing business, Rank Hovis McDougall. The anchor and ship?s wheel were donated to the Australian Government by the estate of John F Kennedy, Dublin, in January 1976, and transferred to the National Museum as part of the National Historical Collection in 1980.

Object information

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