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Reproduced courtesy of Alison Lawrence, granddaughter of artist


Date: 1917
Overall: 410 x 510 mm
Sight: 170 x 270 mm
Medium: Watercolour on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © C B Norton
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00015663

User Terms

    Watercolour painting by C B (Charles Basil) Norton, 1917, of the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand's passenger liner RMS NIAGARA, under steam at sea. The NIAGARA, of 13,415 gross tons, was built in 1913 for the trans-Pacific service between Australia and Vancouver. It was sunk by a German mine off New Zealand in 1940. The picture was painted in New Zealand, where the artist C B Norton lived between 1913 and 1920, working as a dredge master in Gisborne.
    SignificanceThe painting is an example of the marine works of Charles Basil Norton, characterised by fine detail showing accurate knowledge of ships. It also represents the trans-Pacific trade which was an important link in Australian maritime communications, the Union Steam Ship Company which was a major shipping company operating in Australia, and it represents the NIAGARA itself, a well-regarded ship of its time.
    HistoryRMS NIAGARA was built by the famous John Brown shipyard at Clydebank, Scotland in 1913 for the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand. It was designed for the trans-Pacific trade from Australia to New Zealand and Canada. It was 13,415 gross tons, 543 feet (165.5 metres) long, and had triple screw propulsion driven by triple expansion reciprocating engines developing 17 knots service speed. It was registered in London, not New Zealand, and was the first British passenger liner to use oil fuel, with four of its eight boilers able to burn either coal or oil. The central propellor was driven by exhaust steam from the engines, passed to a low pressure turbine. NIAGARA was a highly regarded and well built ship, with accommodation for 278 first-class, 221 second-class, and 191 third-class passengers. NIAGARA was considered too imortant in this passenger role to be requisitioned for wartime service in both World Wars. On 19 June 1940, shortly after leaving Auckland carrying 146 passengers and 203 crew, and a quantity of gold in the cargo, NIAGARA hit a German mine and sank. All people on board were saved, and most of the gold was eventually salvaged.

    The Union Steam Ship Company survived as New Zealand's premier shipping company for 125 years, from 1875-2000. Many famous USS Company liners and cargo ships plied the ocean routes to ports in eastern North America, the Far East, Australia, Pacific islands and around the coasts of New Zealand. The company also played a significant part in Australian shipping operations.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: RMS NIAGARA

    Primary title: R.M.S. "NIAGARA"

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