Half-ship model, SS 'Uki, wood / metal / glass, made by Lithgows Ltd Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow, Scotland, 1923
The North Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd, for a lengthy period of time, had the monopoly of the Northern River services, trading cargo items such as timber, maize, butter and mail, as well as passengers. The SS 'Uki' is representative of one of the North Coasters that worked for the company, which was named after a town on the Tweed River, and helped contribute towards the economic development of the Northern New South Wales region.
The 'Uki' clearly showed the influence of Sir Allen Taylor (the company's chairman) in its design. She was a steel steamer that had only one large hatch virtually amidships and the bridge and machinery well aft. In fact, the 'Uki' became one of two prototypes for the classes of vessels that were to be used by the company in its ensuing years. The other prototype was the 'Ulmarra'. Both of these vessels continued to trade under the familiar red and blue house flag even after the North Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd went into voluntary liquidation in 1954.
On December 11, 1939 the 'Uki' was commissioned as a minesweeper to aid in the war efforts. The 'Uki', like other vessels including the 'Orara', 'Coolebar' and 'Nambucca', was converted with sweeping gear (guns) and extra accommodation to detonate mines. Although the loss of these vessels were felt by the North Coast Company, their contributions to protecting Australia's coastal waters during WWII were imperative. After the war, the 'Uki' was sold to M. Bern & Co in 1954, before being hulked in Brisbane in 1960 and then stripped and scuttled off Moreton Island in June 1976 as breakwater.
Ship models such as this one would have been made for shipbuilders to assist in their full-scale construction, helping to provide the builder with an idea of the vessel's fittings, riggings and sail plans, as well as helping to show the ratio of length to beam, the fining of her entry, stern and so on. This model also acts as a legacy of the full-scale version which no longer survives.
Australian Merchant Navy, "North Coast Company", http://merchant-navy-ships.com/index.php?id=16,0,0,1,0,0 (Downloaded 30/4/3007)
Pemberton, B., "Australian Coastal Shipping" (Melbourne, 1979) pp.87 & 90
Richards, M., "North Coast Run: Men and Ships of the New South Wales North Coast" (Killara, 1977) pp.108-109, 130 & 169
Scottish Archives Network, "Sir James Lithgow", http://www.dswebhosting.info/SCAN/dserve.exe?&dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Site20&dsqDb=Persons&dsqSearch=Code=='GL68'&dsqCmd=Show.tcl (Downloaded 10/4/2007)
This half-ship model of the SS 'Uki' was made by Lithgows Ltd Shipbuilders in Port Glasgow, Scotland in 1923.
Lithgows Limited was a British shipbuilding company that was incorporated in 1918 from Russell & Co (the original name of the family shipyard belonging to Sir James Lithgow's family). The company grew throughout the early 20th Century and acquired many lower-Clyde heavy industrial businesses such as Dunlop, Bremner & Co in 1919; Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co in 1935 and Ferguson Bros in 1961. The company ceased to operate in 1988.
The 'Uki' was a steel screw steamer that showed the influence of Sir Allen Taylor. Taylor was a timber-merchant, ship owner and politician who chaired the North Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd (as well as the Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd) in the 1890s. The 'Uki' became a prototype for a particular class of vessel that was characterised by only one large hatch virtually amidships and the bridge and machinery well aft. The 'Uki' class of vessel was developed from Taylor's wooden boats like the 'Wallamba'.
The SS 'Uki' was made for ownership and use by the North Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd.
The North Coast Steam Navigation (NCSN) Co Ltd was formed in 1891. The company can be traced back to 1857 at which time the Grafton Steam Navigation Co Ltd was operating. The company was formed as a result of Northern Rivers' shippers unifying for greater effectiveness. The company had no less than 126 steamers and motor ships, as well as an array of droghers, barges and support craft which carried supplies such as timber, maize, butter, general merchandise, mail and passengers. While the NCSN Co Ltd had the monopoly of Northern Rivers services for a significant time, it was forced to quit the trade when the profit was cut away by increasing wages, falling cargo and prospering road transport. Thus, the company went into voluntary liquidation in 1954.
The 'Uki' was originally built for use on the North Coast Rivers of New South Wales until December 11, 1939 when it was commissioned as a minesweeper to be used during WWII. The vessel was modified with sweeping gear, including guns, along with extra accommodation. It operated as a minesweeper with other converted North Coasters such as the 'Orara', 'Coolebar' and 'Nambucca'.
In 1954, the 'Uki' was sold to M. Bern & Co and it is believed that it was used as a pile driver platform during construction of Shute Harbour Wharf in the Whitsunday Islands built by Campbells Construction in about 1962. It was hulked in Brisbane stripped and scuttled off Tangalooma, Moreton Island, in June 1976 as a breakwater.
This particular ship model was donated to the Museum by a descendent of an employee of the North Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd in 1988.