Ship model, the paddle steamer "Iona" (SB). Working model complete with bollards and cleats, deck rails and companionways, bow anchors and winches....finished in red and black with varnished superstructure, and black and white funnels, mounted on stand; [England], [1930s]; A A Stewart Collection (OF).
The "Iona" had a long illustrious career from 1864 to1936 as a passenger paddle steamer operating along the West Scottish coast.
This model is a part of the A. A. Stewart collection of ship, mechanical, and railway models acquired by the Powerhouse Museum over nearly 30 years from 1938 to 1963. Albyn A. Stewart was a trained engineer fascinated by engineering models and he constructed some of those in the collection. Others however were brought from amateur and commercial modellers at great expense to Stewart who travelled regularly to England to seek out models. In January 1938, Percival Marshall, the editor of 'The Model Engineer' England's premiere modelling magazine devoted editorial space to the collection where he stated that "Mr. Stewart has been fortunate in acquiring some excellent examples of both screw and paddle marine engines of considerable value as records of real prototype practice."
In April of the same year he expanded his comments on the collection by saying, "As a trained engineer himself, his judgement of the technical merits of a model is very sound, and I should imagine that his collection is now the finest of its kind in Australia, in private hands. Many of the models are undoubtedly worthy of careful preservation, and I hope that they will eventually find a suitable resting place in one or other of the Australian national museums."
Stewart was first contacted by the Technological Museum, as the Powerhouse Museum was then known, in 1933. The then Director/Curator A. R. Penfold immediately recognised the importance of the engineering models and in 1935 began to loan items for display. Penfold expanded the area available for displaying the models as they were seen as instructive for students at the adjacent Technical College as they were for the general public.
In early 1938 Stewart's company 'Lymdale Ltd.' which owned most of the models was approached about the purchase of a large part of the collection. Stewart was appointed to the Advisory Board of the Museum and in July 1938 it began to purchase the models it had loaned as well as the best examples in the rest of the collection. The cost of this was estimated at over 3000.00 pounds. By 1943 the museum was still acquiring material from the collection and the Advisory Committee made a special appropriation request to the Minister of Education. "In view of the advantage of retaining a collection intact, and the national asset which the museum possesses, the committee recommends the purchase of the remainder of the Stewart collection offered at approximately 2,400. This sum was approved and between 1943 and 1945 around 80 more models were purchased. Apart from the monetary limitations the acquisition was spread over a number of years because some of Stewart's models needed to be finished before they could be sold.
The high costs reflected the quality of the models. Many of the working steam engines are one-off examples hand crafted by amateur modellers over the course of years. The same is true of some of the ship and locomotive models many of which are made to exact scale and include working parts. The models were carefully collected by Stewart who collected as much for posterity as he did for personal interest. Once contacted by the museum he deliberately sought models which would fill historical and technological gaps and as a result the collection is one of the most significant in still extant in Australia. A. A. Stewart died in 1961.
The museum purchased this model in 1942.
Geoff Barker, March, 2007
Marshall, Percival, 'The Model Engineer ', London, April 29, 1937
Marshall, Percival, 'The Model Engineer ', London, May, 27, 1937
Marshall, Percival, 'The Model Engineer', London, January, 27, 1938
Marshall, Percival, 'The Model Engineer ', London, April, 14, 1938
Chalmers, A. Mar, 'The Model Engineer in Australia and New Zealand, Melbourne, January, 1939
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
Geoff Barker, March 2007
The iron-hulled paddle steamer "Iona", 396 tonnes, was built and engined by J. and G. Thompson, Clydebank, Scotland, for owners David Hutcheson & Co., David MacBrayne Ltd. and launched on 10th May 1864. Her two oscillating engines could drive the " Iona" at 17 knots.
She was the third paddle steamer called "Iona" ; "Iona (I)"sank in 1862 in the Inner Clyde estuary near Greenock. "Iona ( 2 )" was sold in 1863 for use as an American Blockade boat but sank near Lundy Island en route. " Iona (III)" was a beautiful ship with a curved and engraved bow. Some of her fittings came from " Iona (II)". In 1873 she was fitted with telegraphs and steam steering gear for service on the Ardrishaig route. She later sailed out of Oban and then resumed the Ardrishaig sevice in conjunction with the paddlesteamer "Columba". "Iona (III)" stayed on the Clyde during World War I and was chartered for a short period to the Caledonian Steam Packet Company for railway connection work from Weymss Bay.
After the war, she was refitted and had new saloons added, sailing along the West Scottish coast to Lochgoilhead, Arrochar, Oban and Fort William. Her long, illustrious career lasted seventy two years, finally being broken up at Dalmuir in 1936.