MHT dredge 'Pioneer'

15th July 2009, 10:53
Talk of JP Webb got me to thinking about one that has had me vexed for a while. 'Pioneer' and 'Matthew Flinders' spent many years dredging in the South Channel, Port Phillip, often in the area around The Cut. My Uncle was Chief on the Matthew Flinders in the late 50s... ship used to spend a fortnight out.. anchoring for the weekend of either the Rosebud or Dromana pier. At the end of the fortnight it was up to 13(?) South wharf to coal.

Eventually 'Pioneer' was scuttled outside Port Phillip Heads in the 'Graveyard'.
Problem is that everywhere I look - mainly on dive sites - she is listed as sunk in 1950.... 'PIONEER S ss dredge (sand pump), 543 g, 210 n, ON120520, 170.0 x 37.2 x 10.3, B. 1905 Pt.Glasgow. Owners:
Victorian Dept of Board of Works, reg. Melbourne. Scuttled March 9, 1950. ' Thats from this site which may be the culprit... .

This is absolute rollocks as the most common photo of her shows an SS and A 'I' boat ( Iberic or one of them) in the background.... ... click on 'wreck' and select her name...

So... does anyone know when she was actually scuttled? I reckon she was still working in 62/63.

Jan Hendrik
29th September 2009, 10:31
As far as I can see there have been 2 dredgers named Pioneer and I got photos of both.
Could it be the other one which you are thinking about?
The photo displayed by that diving company is similar to the one I have and which indicates the 1905 built vessel by Ferguson in Glasgow.

I have no idea about particulars of the "other" Pioneer which looks older.

15th January 2010, 21:59
Hello Jan, I'd forgotten about this post having 'gone foreign' for a few months at the end of Sept.
The Pioneer that I remember in the late 50's/ early 60's was very old... I have seen her in the background of a photo taken at Station Pier in 1914 so I think she was 1905 built. The previous Pioneer must have been long gone by 1950.

16th January 2010, 04:58
A photo of the later Pioneer which I took in 1963. Afraid I have no info on when she was built.

16th January 2010, 11:45
What a bonzer shot... what were you on when you took the photo, a tug? I reckon that is the 1905 one they scuttled in 60 something and that the date info in the dive sites is wrong.

16th January 2010, 17:28
Her suction pump engine will have been a enclosed crankcased triple or compound expansion engine with no reversing links.

17th January 2010, 01:10
What a bonzer shot... what were you on when you took the photo, a tug? I reckon that is the 1905 one they scuttled in 60 something and that the date info in the dive sites is wrong.
I was on Sydney Manly ferry that was running trips down the Yarra River during a Melbourne summer. Stinking hot day it was too.

Jan Hendrik
4th April 2010, 00:36
This could be an earlier dredger?

photographer unknown, photo part of my collection.

4th April 2010, 01:15
Pioneer, which ever one, was owned and operated by the Victorian Public Works Department (PWD Pi** and Wind Dept), and never by the MHT (Melbourne Harbour Trust). MHT only worked within the confines of the Port of Melbourne. Where as the Pioneer(s) worked only outside the Port, including Bass Strait ports. Pioneer was unusual in that it burnt Briquettes (Brown Coal) rather than the good steaming coal from South Wharf.

5th April 2010, 12:33
Oooooooooooooops, my mistake re MHT. I think the only dredge PWD still has is April Hamer down at the Gippsland Lakes unless she has been sold. About 10 years ago there was an old barge dredging down at Appollo Bay.. don't know if they own(ed) her or not. I seem to recall having seen that one working down at Rye in the 50's...
Jan's photo is the only one I have ever seen of what may well be the first Pioneer.

5th April 2010, 13:13
Yes Cisco, I have never seen that Pioneer or a picture of it either, very interesting. The Pioneer that I remember used to berth at North Wharf and, as far as I know, take brown coal as bunkers from the gas works that used to be there. I guess they got cheap coal as both PWD the Gas Company were, I think, State Government owned. My facts may be all wrong though. Another dredge worked in unison with Pioneer, an old coal burner too, but my brain has gone dead, cant recall the name. I worked for a very short time on the 'Rip' and we used to anchor down the bottom end of the bay along with the Diesel engined 'Mathew Flinders'.

5th April 2010, 15:57
Yes , Gas and Fuel Corp of Vic was guvment... they had that mega-gross building opposite Flinders Street. Sister coal burning dredge was the old Mathew Flinders, my uncle was c/e on her for some time in the late 50's. She used to coal at South wharf in the corner of the interstate swinging basin.

Jan Hendrik
6th April 2010, 00:57
Some more information on those dredgers:\

I also have series of (exclusive) photos of those dredgers in case you are interested e.g. April Hamer, A.M. Vella AS Mayne, Geopotes 1, JP Webb, AD Mackenzie, etc.

April Hamer is still operating in Lakes Entrance and is soon to be replaced.
A M Vella sold to HK Owners in 1997 and sank in Hong Kong harbour 2002.
AS Mayne still sitting in Geelong waiting for a buyer, has been modified by Korevaar.
I supervised some of these ships in drydock.