Ship model, 'SS Alice', wood, made by Rock Davis, Blackwall, Brisbane Waters, New South Wales, Australia, 1888
The model of S.S. 'Alice' was initially lent to the museum by the Sydney engineering form of J. Wildridge & Sinclair Ltd. Still operating at the beginning of the twenty first century this company commissioned the building of a number of significant Australian ships around 1907.
Some of Wildridge & Sinclair ships were designed specifically for Australian waters. One of these was the SS 'Undola' launched in 1909 and made by J. Fullerton and Co. of Scotland. It was designed specifically as a collier to haul coal form the wharf at Coal Cliff south of Sydney and had a shallow draught to get closer to the wharf as well as self-trimming hatches to minimise time spent at the wharf.
The company was also involved in some important technological innovations in Australia, including the installation of Australia's first domestic refrigeration unit. This was installed in 1895 at 'Urrbrae' the home of Peter Waite, chairman of the Elder Smith Company and a director for Broken Hill Mining.
Block and half block models became more common after 1720 and builders made these to illustrate the designs provided to them by engineering firms. By the middle of the 1850s half block models were common in commercial shipyards. They were used as aids for framing, planking and plating ships. By the 1880s more were being made for display only.
The model is also significant as S.S. 'Alice' after being designed by J. Wildridge & Sinclair was built by the local shipwright Rock Davis at Brisbane Waters, New South Wales, Australia, in 1896. According to a local history study published by the Gosford Library in 2006, Brisbane Water was an important centre for early shipbuilding. Over 500 named vessels were built there between 1829 and 1953. Rock Davis was the most prolific and best known shipwright in Brisbane Waters and many of these 500 ships were built by him. The first ship launched from the Davis shipyard was the 'Centurion' in 1863, the last was the steam ferry 'Woollahra' in 1913.
These ships were integral to the economic development of New South Wales. They carried shells for manufacturing the lime needed for buildings in Sydney as well as thousands of tons of timber for wharf pilings, railway sleepers and mine props.
In January 1901 SS 'Alice' was towing the paddle steamer the 'Allyn' when it founded off Bird Island Point.
Davison, G., Webber, K., 'Yesterday's Tomorrows; the Powerhouse Museum and its precursors 1880-2005', Powerhouse Publishing, 2005
Lavery, B. and Stephens, S., 'Ship Models; their purpose and development from 1650 to the present', Zwemmer, London, 1995
'Woy Woy: a brief history', Compiled by the Local Studies Librarian, Gosford City Library, March 2006 sourced form www.gosford.nsw.gov.au
Geoff Barker, March 2007
The SS 'Alice' ,designed by J. Wildridge & Sinclair, was built by the shipwright Rock Davis at Brisbane Waters NSW in 1896. The 'Alice' was one of many ships carrying shells for the manufacture of lime ,and also thosands of tons of timber for wharf pilings, railway sleepers and mine props. In January 1901, tthe 'Alice' was towing the paddle steamer 'Allyn' when it foundered off Bird island Point.