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SS OONAH

Date: 1888
Dimensions:
Image: 210 x 292 mm
470 x 525 x 24 mm
Medium: BW albumen print
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Photographs
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00042463

User Terms

    HistoryThe Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company which owned the three ships was the second company of that name. The first was founded in 1845 to run services to Melbourne but failed and ceased trading in 1851. A second company of the same name was set up in 1852 and traded successfully with cargo and passenger services across the Tasman to New Zealand, to Sydney and Melbourne and around the Tasmanian coast, until 1891 when after a period of competition with Huddart Parker and the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand, it was swallowed up by the USS Co.

    The FLORA, PATEENA and OONAH were all built for the TSN Company in the 1880s in an attempt to overcome the competition which was threatening its previously comfortable hold on the Tasmanian trade. The FLORA was built at Hull, England, and served the Hobart- Sydney run. The PATEENA, built in Glasgow, had graceful lines and was the fastest vessel then to make the Bass Strait crossing. The OONAH was built for the Hobart Sydney run and became famous for its speed and comfort. In 1891 when the USS Company took over the TSN Company, it acquired the PATEENA and OONAH. The FLORA was sold to New Zealand. The OONAH served the Bass Strait to Melbourne and Sydney run until 1935, when it was sold to Japanese breakers.


    The artist William Forster was born in England in 1851. He went to New Zealand in 1871 and began working as a marine artist. Around 1880 he came to Sydney where he painted ships and yachts in Sydney Harbour and Newcastle, producing a prolific number over the next decade. Forster catered to a well defined market using the conventions common to professional ship-portraitists - usually presenting a broadside view of the vessel with a recognisable landmark such as South Head in the background and one or two smaller vessels. He usually included the ship's flags. He always worked in watercolour. His brushwork was distinctively delicate and the detail was technically of a high standard. He died of illness in 1891 and was buried in a pauper's grave.

    W H Fyfe, the artist of the painting of the PATEENA, appears to have had some connection with the TSN Company as a ship portraitist. A painting by him of the OONAH is held by the Tasmanian Maritime Museum.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: The Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company's new steamship "OONAH"

    Assigned title: SS OONAH

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