J P Webb

28th April 2005, 12:35
Does anyone by any chance have a pic or details of a hopper barge JP WEBB built in 1954 by Ferguson/s at Port Glasgow for Melbourne Harbour Commissioners.
She replaced another of the same name built also by Ferguson/s in 1951 but which was wrecked a few months later shortly after taking up her career.
I believe the 1954 WEBB is now an artificial diving reef.
Better still,anyone have a shot of the first one?

28th April 2005, 19:57
Hi Fairfield (Wave)

I have found out the following, hope it helps. I cannot however find a photo of either ship anywhere.

J.P.WEBB S ss hopper barge, 967 g, 300 n, ON196732, 207' x 36'1', B.1954 Ferguson Bros (P.GL.) Ltd, Pt. Glasgow, 3X mach aft. Melbourne Harbour trust. Dismantled and abandoned in shallow water off Pt.Lillias, Corio Bay, 1981.

JP Webb -1951
The 983-tonne steam-driven hopper barge, JP Webb was lost en route from England to Melbourne. The 983-tonne barge had been built in Glasgow for the Melbourne Harbour Trust and was designed for dredging work in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. The ill-fated vessel was launched in April 1951, only to run aground four months later on what is now known as Webb Reef. It lies 1.6 km west of Ledge point at a depth of 3-6 metres. The main features of the wreck are the boiler and a large triple expansion steam engine. The boiler is clearly visible from the surface, lying about one metre below the water. The site has been extensively salvaged but remains an attractive and easily accessible wreck dive in good conditions.

Hope the info is of use.


28th April 2005, 20:17
Yes it is,thanks indeed.I had the basics albeit wrong.I had the 1951 ship abandoned in 1981 and only when I did some more research realised there had been two.Quite a shame about the first one/s loss.

28th April 2005, 20:35
Hi Fairfield,

Yes, tragic really, brand new ship, travels halfway around the world only to be wrecked just before she got to her new home. A sad loss.


27th October 2005, 10:34

Sorry no picture, but here her details;


Ship name J. P. WEBB LR/IMO No.5166885
Ship type HOPPER Ship Updated 2003.12.17
Ship Status Continued Existence In Doubt Date of Build 1954.11

Tonnages (not 69 conv.)
Gross 967
Official No.196732 Net 300
Sat. Com. Id. DWT1204
Ans. Back Code Dimensions (metres)
Flag Australia Draught 4.534m
PortMelbourne,Vic. Length (Overall) 63.1m
Reg. Owner Ship's Existence In Doubt Length (BP) 59.44m
Ship Manager Unknown
Builder Ferguson Bros. (Port Glasgow) Ltd.-Port Glasgow Breadth
(ext.) 11m
Yard No.408 Breadth (mld.) 10.98m
Class Lloyd's Register of Shipping (disclassed) Depth (mld.)5.19m

Propulsion Steam Recip(s), Direct Drive Screws Single-Screw

28th October 2005, 14:52
Many thanks for that.Much appreciated.

9th July 2006, 14:16
Photo of JP Webb on my photo gallery . Not the best photo I'm afraid as I was actually taking the tug in front of the Webb.
My dad taught me to flash an oil fired boiler on the Webb when I was 14. I later was on her as Engineer. A very comfortable old girl. Not sure where she is now.

23rd July 2007, 05:05
Engine of JP Web is on display in steam section at Geelong show grounds.

22nd July 2008, 06:30
Hi Fairfield,Did you receive my message re this vessel,sent 21/7/08,as I was a crew member on the delivery voyage from Port Glasgow to Melbourne 1954/55 and may be able to assist with information including photographs.Cheers Bill Smith (Melbourne Australia)

non descript
22nd July 2008, 07:17
Wow, what a nice thread - it just goes to show the real style, and strength and depth of SN (Thumb)

ps. for W J Smith - I think Fairfield is way at the moment and is yet to see your message

22nd July 2008, 18:44
I wouldn't mind seeing a photo of her to see if she is the same as the steam hoppers owned by an outfit I worked for between deap sea jobs in my early days, they were also built around the same time, they featured strenghthened wing bridge supports as well as deckhead strengthening in the steering gear compartment to comply for a grant in regards to a possible "War Role". Boiler, three furnace Scotch, oil fired with Weirs pumps all round, and a tidy well laid out engineroom.

Jan Hendrik
11th July 2009, 16:32
Just found this topic.
Have some old photos of this hopperbarge (the second one of course) berthed alongside in Melbourne.
No idea where they come from, so cannot credit anybody.
Photos are not the best of quality.

12th July 2009, 07:24
Thanks Jan for your message re the J.P.Webb. The photos look O.K to me. In trying to put a face to a name, could you be the Jan Hendricks who acted as the returning officer for S.U.A elections from time to time ? However I will print the photo's and get back to you. Cheers, Bill Smith

Jan Hendrik
13th July 2009, 08:23
Elections??? never had anything to do with that, Jan Hendrik (note correct spelling) are both my Christian names.
Will send you a PM with same photos and another coloured beauty of this vessel next couple of days.

15th July 2009, 10:29
I saw the hulk of JP Webb together with another similar hull - name escapes me - in the late 80's early 90's. They had been run up on the beach in a little cove near Point Lillias and I think that some local was going to break them up completely but either went broke, lost interest , or - as I heard - was denied access to the site by the adjoining land holder. Can't say if they are still there or not... long time no sail in that area. Can't see them on Google Earth but I would imagine that they would have eventually been completely dismantled rather than towed off the beach and scuttled... very shallow area around there.... and I think they were both 'tidal'.

There was a near sister... if not JP Webb herself although the dates don't fit... that was in collision when inboard from the spoil ground with an outbound Polish ship in 1984. The MHT hopper 'sank' just south of Breakwater Pier... frd section flooded and sat on the bottom... stern stuck up in the air... salvaged soon there after. Collision caused by big ships working VHF Ch 12.... MHT ships using UHF... all work Ch 12 these days.


10th September 2010, 13:42
Hi All
Nice to see others who know the boiler and engine rooms etc on that old girl. I was heavily involved with her around 1980-81 alongside at Nth Wharf in preparation for using her as a salvage vessel for the City of Rayville off Cape Otway. We steamed her to Mornington Pier for a test run with both police and harbour Authority chasing us down the Yarra and out to Port Phillip before giving up on us all.

The engine was a beautiful triple expansion, 1000HP @ I think 95 or 100 RPM

It took a lot of work to get her recommissioned as she had not been fired up for some yrs prior. I know very well the blackness and sulphur of the inside of her old scotch boilers. A really sweet boiler engine combination though. Almost Silent

Whilst I was never one to photograph these occasions my dear friend Holger was. If you would like some photos, let me know and I will ask.

Very fond memories and would love to hear from anyone else that may have been involved in the Webb and especially that venture.


Phil Long

11th September 2010, 22:24
Hi All

Whilst I was never one to photograph these occasions my dear friend Holger was. If you would like some photos, let me know and I will ask.


Phil Long

Hi Phil

I would love to have copies of any photos. I was brought up on the Clyde and -much to late in life and 400 miles away -have recently started a project titled "Clydebuilt". As part of this, and because I was born in Paisley, dredgers interest me. These ships, and their builders deserve to be better known.

Andy Shand

5th April 2012, 14:54
Hi All

Still trying to get photos from the Salvage Era 1980-81
During the process of converting the Hopper Barge to a Salvage Vessel as a part of celebrations and a good excuse to take her for a run we steamed her out from the river towards Mornington Pier. We were chased by the Port Authority down the river yelling on a PA "turn this vessel around, Stop this Vessel". They where promptly told to ...............
Funny, they did.

So we proceeded to steam towards Mornington pier. Jack an old Engineer from Texas and I were in the Engine room driving the old girl and running the boilers. Pretty amazing thing to do! Checking the Brg cap temperatures for those that can relate. 1st time always hurts.
Must have been getting pretty close to our destination when the Telegraph goes right off from full ahead to full astern. I never have heard someone go off like Jack did swearing and yelling out "Bloody Speed Boat Drivers, What do they think this is, a bloody speed boat!

We got the engine reversed and he sent me on deck to see what was going down. Well,,,
We were heading at a few knots at around 20 degrees along the wharf and about to impact. The bow ran along the side of the wharf splitting the vertical timbers like twigs. Bang Bang and every time a twig would explode the whole wharf would shake. Grannies became Olympians running faster and faster, It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I was surprised that even the police did not come down.
There was pandemonium on board though. Everyone scurrying around trying to hide all the grog. At that point I disappeared back down to the engine room. We had an event free run all the way home to Nth Wharf. I still have my old cabin Key "A Shift" Really loved that ship and the time I worked on her, especially the engine and boilers.

I'll write more some time. I would love to catch up with anyone from that "SS City of Rayville" Salvage Era, Er.. or Kel...!

29th April 2012, 05:58
Hi All,

Found the old girl.

-38.080194 144.482907
Must say sad to see her in this form and my old cabin has gone. Sort of hoping that she had been scuttled in an almost complete state but alas aground at the low water mark. Not too long and she will be nothing but oxide



tony Allard
2nd May 2012, 10:20
Is that the location of her Phil. what does she look like now. it was very interesting reading through the stories. even the story of her hitting the pier.


11th October 2012, 22:08
I worked on the JP Webb in the 60's she was so quiet and so relaxed and well build. Enjoyed my time with her....

13th October 2012, 06:34
The vessel that collided off breakwater pier was the Charles H McKay. this is the investigation in to the collision and there conclusions http://www.atsb.gov.au/media/25042/mair7_001.pdf. She was not a sister to Webb. She had a sister in the name of Swanston could be Hugh Swanston and another very similar but newer version named Roy A Cameron. The Cameron was newer but not as well build as the Swanton and McKay. The Swanston was the best of the 3. Although I liked the Ol' Webb the best. Any one remember Ports and Harbour Suction Dredge the Pioneer? or the Mathew Flinders? or what became of them?

13th October 2012, 09:20
Oh dear... my memory has been letting me down again.... I recall seeing her sitting on the bottom and my info comes from what the pilot told me when we passed her.... could have sworn she was down by the head... oh well.

My Uncle was C/E on the Mathew Flinders late 50s early 60s approx. She used to coal in Melbourne and then spend two weeks dredging in the Cut and thereabouts... on the weekend that she was 'down the bay' she would anchor off Dromana (?) Pier and all hands bar the watchman would go home. They both went in the early 60's... don't know where or how.
There is some confusion on the inet re the Pioneer... I think it was an even older Pioneer that was scuttled in the Graveyard.

The above is how my rather flawed memory recalls it.......

13th October 2012, 12:26
Here is a photo of Pioneer that I took in 1963.

13th October 2012, 13:36
Thats nice too see the ol Pioneer, I was an AB on her for a little while in about 69. I think. used to dump the ashes before breakfast each morning. And as Cisco said used to spend 2 weeks away and every second weekend at Dromana. and head home. The Pioneer they told me never had a keel. The forecastle used to bounce up and down while under way !!!! Cheers

13th October 2012, 13:46
Thanks for your reply Cisco. It actually used to tie up to the Dromana pier Stern first after dropping 2 anchors, one about 1 or 2 points off the starboard bow and the second one about 1 or 2 points off the port bow. then reversing up to the pier while paying out the anchor chains Really pretty good the way he done it. Nice to bring back the memories Thanks

13th October 2012, 23:18
Thanks for your reply, Cisco.

The Pioneer was the old coal burner and the Mathew Flinders was a very modern Cutter suction Dredge. Built late 60's I think. Was sold to a Peter Nielson. in about 1985. He later on sold it to P&O. I think it ended up working in Hong Kong. It would dredge the south channel and the west and the Pioneer would do the west channel. We used to tie up to Rye Pier ever second weekend. Not Dromana. And anchor every night off Portsea. (Portsea Pub)!!!!!! If the weather was good we could go ashore in the lifeboat (workboat). and it would pick us up at the pier at 10pm. I think the light and power would go off at 11pm each night. Was nice and quiet after that.

Slinte mhr agad!
(great health to you!)

13th October 2012, 23:27
Does any one remember the Golden Bear Line? I think they had a blue funnel with a Golden Bear attached to the Port and Starboard side of the funnel. I think they were based in San Fransisco. Very large Cargo ships. 35000 tons rings a bell for me. fine looking ship. I think I was told they were "victory ships" design. Would love to see some pictures of them...

13th October 2012, 23:59
Thanks for your reply, Cisco.

The Pioneer was the old coal burner and the Mathew Flinders was a very modern Cutter suction Dredge. Built late 60's I think.

Slinte mhr agad!
(great health to you!)
That ( 1960s built) Mathew Flinders replaced the old coal burning Mathew Flinders in the 60s. She ( the 60s one) was eventually sold to India for scrapping sometime in the 80s and was replaced by the A.M.Vella http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/166759/title/interstate-swinging-basin-2c-melbourne/cat/505 which was the one sold to HK. She was lost there in a collision a few years ago with heavy loss of life.


14th October 2012, 00:06
A photo of the 60s Matthew Flinders here.. http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/74463/title/matthew-flinders/cat/516 .. which looks as if taken when she was laid up for sale.
Seems she went to HK/Macau when sold... not India as I suggested.

14th October 2012, 00:17
The Mathew Flinders was sold to P&O and went to HK. I'm sorry to hear about the collision and loss of life.

14th October 2012, 00:18
I think she was used to , for the airport extension. would that be right?

14th October 2012, 00:20
Do you remember the Kermod? Cisco. a very old Bucket Dredger of the Melb Harbour Trust. Built in Scotland. she was a good one too.

14th October 2012, 00:35
Thanks for the picture of Mathew Flinders. Cisco... I still have a ships clock from her officers mess.... !!!

14th October 2012, 00:51
The Mathew Flinders was sold to P&O and went to HK. I'm sorry to hear about the collision and loss of life.

Ben, it was the AM Vella that was sunk in collision.

14th October 2012, 00:58
Ok thanks Cisco, Probable the mathew Flinders ended up in the breakers yard then. The Pic of it is Not how it looked when the Ports and Harbours owned it.

Slinte mhr agad!
(great health to you!)

14th October 2012, 01:56
I don't recall the Kermod by name but I recall a very noisy bucket dredger working off the Yarraville oil wharf in about 1956. Back when they still had laid up sailing ships on the Fishermens Bend side of the river... a ferry from the foot of Francis Street across to the far side to cater for the workers at GM-H and the Commonwealth aircraft factory... and a shipbreaker's yard up the Maribynyong River by the Footscray road bridge. Memory not totally gone.....

Does anyone know what happened to the wooden hulks on the north shore of the Yarra just above the Spencer Street bridge? They vanished some time in the 60s.


14th October 2012, 02:30
Well done Cisco. In 56 it was probable the McKenzie Bucket Dredge, The Kermod(e) was there too. It was shaped more like a ship than the "pontoon" shape that was the McKenzie. yes I remember most of that stuff too.... Those wooden hulks I remember one of them cant think of the name now. But I think one was used to transport TNT or other explosives to tasmania. or King Island Have vague memories of that one having been moved to near the swinging basin at about 5 or 6 south wharf. and I think someone had started restoration on one...

14th October 2012, 10:38
'Wongala' was the one that ran the explosives iirc .... much later Lady Jillian http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/164915/title/lady-jillian/cat/517 was running the occasional box of explosives into Burnie.

I was in same class in primary school as the Wongala's skipper's daughter... the name was Meyer or similar. Years later I think she was involved with ferries on Western Port... Stony Point/Cowes etc.

I recall in the 80's a wooden hulk alongside in the Interstate Swinging Basin.... cant remember much else than that she had dried out that much that you could see daylight through her...... think she was painted yellow... some mug punter throwing $$$$$ at her.

14th October 2012, 11:05
Fine memories Cisco. DO you remember the King Islander sinking one saturday morning just near 30 South or 32 south? And for me the day the Melbourne (Tug) was sunk by the, I think, the french container ship Kangarou? that was a tragic day. The northerly wind that day was massive.

14th October 2012, 11:38
Yes, and she sank just before or after Blythe Star was lost of the west coast of Tassie.... and their third ship- Joseph Banks- grounded on the NSW coast at about the same time.... Tasmanian Transport Commision didn't have a good record in those days.... Sid Barret(sp) was the bosun who opened the stern door as was the norm... freeboard aft measured in inches... bit of heel......bad outcome

Melbourne ... http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/221869/title/s-2ft-melbourne/cat/523 was sunk by Nieuw(?) Holland... wasn't there when it happened but arrived soon after and you could see the oil slick coming from the wreck. I took that photo after she had been salvaged. I recall when as 'Howard Smith' her first job was a Stanvac tanker into either Newport or Yarraville in the mid 50's... she was renamed 'Melbourne' when they wanted the name for an ex Norwegian ore/oiler they had bought.
Funny thing memory... my probs these days are what day is it and where are my glasses........

14th October 2012, 11:45
Ben, it was the Straitsman that sank. Caused a bit of a panic aboard the Allunga which was close by and other ships following. Stern door was opened and water flowed in whilst she was at speed. Re the ferry crossing the river, I used to go the other way from Fishermans Bend to Yarraville. Two old Gippsland type ferries run by an old chap and his son Bill. Usually I was the only passenger going across as the crowd came the other way. One foggy morning he asked me to look out for ships. A real pea souper. Half way across I looked up and saw the mast of a ship bearing down on us. I gave a shout. I didn't know those old ferries could turn so fast!
Some of the hulks upstream from Spencer St bridge (one was called Togo) were moved to the Maribyrnong River at Footscray. They have long gone from there too.

14th October 2012, 21:06
hahahah Yes , where are the glasses and what was I about to do? hahahaha. Thats the first time I have seen the Melbourne after the sinking. sad to see it like that. She was a great looking tug, the best in Melbourne I think. and Yes I was wrong with the King Islander, It was as stated the Straitsman. yes opened the doors while rounding that bend in the river, probable only listing a hand full of degrees. another minute later she was around thaat bend and level again. I think I remember the Blyth Star too. Yes the williamstown ferry, running on anchor chains. Its a wonder the Ship coming up the river in the pea soup, didnt hear the ferry from the break water. !!! was a noisy bugga hahahhaa. Yes neuw Holland Damn my memory is worst that I thought....

14th October 2012, 21:40
'Morning Ben,
the ferry(s) in question were little passenger ones... not the chain ferry.
I recall it or they looked like the wooden workboats built by Knights(?) at Williamstown and also elswhere for the navy during WW2.... about 40 foot long maybe. One in private ownership used to run as a 'liberty boat' from Station Pier out to ships at anchor and as late as 1980 they were still using one in that fashion at Fremantle.

Speed read your one re King Islander/Straitsman.... didn't pick up on the name.

14th October 2012, 22:15
Morning Cisco, Cant say I remember the passenger ferries at all.... Were they operating near the chain ferry?

14th October 2012, 22:24
They ran from the bottom of Francis Street, Yarraville to just north of the derelict timber wharfs where the old sailing ships were laid up. Used to leave from right under the bow of tankers on the Yarraville oil wharf.

14th October 2012, 22:32
Ok, No cant say I remember them at all. cant imagine why they would go to that ol timber wharf. I think we used to call that timber yard down there by the chain ferry Siberia, was so cold and bleak... ps would that be about where the West gate bridge is now...?

15th October 2012, 01:50
Upstream near where that marina is now.... ferry carried workers from yarraville to tother side.... see posts up above. Seems the finger piers were built back in the dreamtime but timber importers showed no inclination to use them prefering to discharge their ships on south wharf nearer to town... I think length of the fingers may also have been an issue.... they only fitted an average sailing ship.

15th October 2012, 03:46
Ok , Now I know where your talking about, I cant remember anything about that area, only maybe a lot of Pylons, Did you ever come across a Cap't John Kable in your time Cisco...?

15th October 2012, 04:01
The name rings a bell but I don't know why.
I think the timber wharves were just upstream from the MHT wharf where the barges and pile drivers and stuff used to be tied up.
I used to have a few old copies of 'The Dog Watch' lying around... read an article in one once on how...in the 50's.. they used to hold Cape Horners' get togethers on one of the old sailing ships.

15th October 2012, 04:43
All great stuff, Damn clock keeps ticking though, Cisco, and the times keep a changing. I think you dont realise how good things were until they are past. The master on the McKay was Keeble, Now I dont know If I have it wrong thinking his name was Kable. John Kable or maybe (Keeble) was a Capt'n RN during or after the war. He then in 1970? Captained the "New Endeavour" on her reenactment voyage, Of Captn Cook. voyage. Had A Mutine, at Hawaii as he wouldnt let the crew drink !!!! hahahahahaha... Was an excentric guy. But a wealth of knowledge and experience. had great yarns to tell too... He was over 60 when I knew him and he could still monkey grip his way up and down and stay . Puts a smile on my face just thinking about him.... I think he also ran the new endeavour aground off port Melbourne some where...

28th September 2016, 04:07
Hi everyone,
The engine from the 1954 JP Webb was saved when the dredge was scrapped in the early 1980s.
The engine was removed and transported to the Geelong Showgrounds where it is now part of the Vintage Machinery display.
The engine is in full working order and is run during the Royal Geelong Show (October 13-16 2016) and the Geelong Classic Truck and Machinery show (January 7-8 2017).
See it in action https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds-53xPnTYQ