Ship model, steam tanker, fitted with compound marine screw engine and boiler, finished in red and black with white upperworks and red and black funnel. Mounted on stand, [England] [1930s]; A A Stewart Collection (OF).
This model is part of the A.A. Stewart collection of ship, mechanical and railway models acquired over nearly 30 years, from 1938 to 1963. Albyn Stewart was a trained engineer fascinated by engineering models ,and he constructed some of those in the collection. Others were bought from amateur and commercial modeler 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 premier 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". Later the same year, he further said "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 more 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 from the display. Penfold expanded the area available for displaying the models as they were seen as instructive for students in the adjacent Technical College ,as well as 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 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 3000 pounds sterling. By 1943, the Museum was still acquiring material for the collection, and the Advisory Committee made a special appropriation request to the Ministry 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 2400 pounds sterling." This sum was approved, and between 1943 and 1945, around eighty more models were purchased. Apart from the monetary limitations, the acquisition was spread over a period 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 modeler over the course of years. The same is true of some of the ship and locomotive models, many of which were 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 out models which would fill historical and technological gaps, and, as a result, the collection is one of the most significant still extant in Australia.
This model was purchased by the Museum in 1944.
Geoff Barker, March 2007
Research by Rob Mayrick, volunteer, November 2010
Marshall, Percival, "The Model Engineer",London, April 29, 1937.
Marshall, Percival, " The Model Engineer ", London, May27, 1937.
Marshall, Percival, " The Model Engineer ", London, January 27, 1938.
Marshall, Percival, " The Model Engineer ", London, April 14, 1938.
Chalmers, A., "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., Stephens, S., "Ship Models ; their purpose and development from 1650 to the present ", Zwemmer, London,1995.