Ship model, SS South Bulli, wood / metal / glass, made by Hall, Russell & Co Ltd, Aberdeen, Scotland, 1913
This shipbuilder's model of the SS South Bulli represents the type of colliers that operated on the New South Wales coast up until the mid-20th century. 'South Bulli', also affectionately known as '60 miler' because it carried coal between Newcastle, Sydney, Port Kembla and Wollongong, was integral to the development of the economy in these regions. It operated during a time when coal production in New South Wales reached a peak. From 1910 - 1920, for example, the mining of coal increased from 8,173,000 tonnes to 10,715,000 tonnes. It did not reach this figure again until at least 1945.
SS South Bulli was originally commissioned for ownership and use by the Bellambi Coal Co Ltd in Wollongong, but was later taken over by Jones Bros Coal Ltd of Pyrmont, where it was renamed Abersea. During its 53 year career, the vessel is best remembered for its collision with SS Tyalgum, another collier, which was on its way to the Tweed while the Abersea, laden with coal, was bound from Newcastle to Sydney.
Ship models like this one were made to assist shipbuilders in construction of full-scale vessels, helping to provide the builder with an idea of each vessel's fittings, riggings and sail plans, as well as helping to show its hull shape and proportions. When a ship was launched, the model was often presented to the ship's owner and proudly displayed on the owner's premises. Today, this model acts as a legacy for the full-scale ship, which no longer survives.
Aberdeen City Council, "Hall, Russell & Co Ltd", http://www.aberdeenships.com/sb_hall_russell.asp (Downloaded 17/4/2007)
Richards, M., "North Coast Run: Men and Ships of the New South Wales North Coast" (Killara, 1977) pp.122-123
This shipbuilder's model of the SS 'South Bulli' was made by Hall, Russell & Co Ltd of Aberdeen, Scotland in 1913.
Hall, Russell & Co Ltd was established in 1864 and was the last of the Aberdeen shipbuilders, ceasing operation in 1992. The firm was a partnership between James and William Hall, the sons of Alexander Thomas Russell (a Glasgow engineer) and John Cardno Couper of Sussex. Initially, the company built engines and boilers, but in 1868 produced its first ship, the iron steamer 'Kwang Tung'.
Hall, Russell & Co Ltd was famous for its production of fishing vessels and cargo steamers, like the 'South Bulli', as well as minesweeper trawlers during WWI. The company built 'Flower Class' corvettes, frigates and other defence vessels during WW2 and reverted to making fishing and cargo vesselsafter the war.
In 1971, Hall Russell delivered the largest ship ever built in Aberdeen, the 10500 tonne deadweight cargo vessel, 'Thameshaven' for a Rotterdam owner.
In 1977, Hall Russell became part of the state-owned British shipbuilders and was one of its most successful yards, producing a number of offshore patrol vessels and torpedo recovery vessels for the Ministry of Defence. However, when it was privatised in 1986, Hall Russell was classed as a warship yard, which made it difficult for the company to compete in the merchant vessel market. Thus, business fell away. The yard eventually closed in 1992.
The SS South Bulli was commissioned for ownership and use by the Bellambi Coal Co Ltd in New South Wales in 1913.
The Bellambi Coal Co Ltd can be traced back to 1857 when Mr Thomas Hale opened a mine at Bellambi. Mr Hale constructed a jetty at Bellambi from which to ship the coal and by 1858 he owned two cutters, two schooners and a barque. In 1862, the mine became insolvent and for the next 26 years lay undeveloped until the Bellambi Coal Co Ltd was constituted in 1888.
In 1901, the Directors of this newly established company decided to purchase the adjoining South Bulli Colliery and developed its own fleet, proving integral to the economic growth of the Wollongong region.
Not long after SS South Bulli was launched for use by the Bellambi Coal Co Ltd, the vessel was taken over by Jones Bros Coal Ltd and re-named SS Abersea. On 5th May 1934 Abersea collided with the collier Tyalgum, which was on its way to the Tweed. Tyalgum had its side badly stoved in when Abersea, which was bound from Newcastle to Sydney deeply laden with coal, could not see Tyalgum's lights. The accident occurred at 5.15am off Norah Head. Abersea's stem was also sprung, with the plating folded across it. Fortunately, the resulting leak was soon fixed.
On 21st May 1932 Abersea was reported to have been stranded on a reef at Bellambi Point when from Sydney to Wollongong and on January 9, 1949 when being towed through the Glebe Island Bridge by the tug Emu, the latter struck the bridge after a heavy gust of wind , causing it to sink. It was later raised by the Titan crane, but the damage was beyond economical repair.
Abersea was withdrawn in June 1960 and in July sold for demolition in Blackwattle Bay. She was replaced in service by Koorine.
This model was donated to the Museum by the son of the vessel's last owner in 1973.