O.K. best I can come up with so far is that the explosion happened in Port Pirie, there were fatalities and the vessel was eventually towed 15,000 miles from Oz to the Tyne (5 mths) by the tug Ganges. Captain O. S. Johnson was in Command of the Kingswood with a skeleton crew of 8.
The Constantine Group - a book published by the World Ship Society gives the story much as Ian says-
Kingswood had been at anchor off Port Pirie prior to loading a cargo of zinc concentrates.
On 3rd January 1937 the donkey boiler exploded - the force of the explosion blew the boiler through the watertight bulkhead at the after end of No2 hold, through a wooden partition bulkhead in No2 hold,, through the watertight bulkhead separating No2 and No1 holds and through the collision bulkhead at fore end of No1 hold entering the forepeak where it penetrated the shell plating.
The boiler travelled an estimated 164 feet.
After temporary repairs in Australia the L. Smit tug Ganges began the tow on 27th April 1937. The tow eventually arrived in the Tyne on 14th September 1937. Having survived Kingswood's luck ran out when she torpedoed and sunk by U 515 in the Gulf of Guinea on 17th December 1943. Fortunately all 48 of her crew survived the sinking. Kingswood was built in 1929 by the Northumberland Shipbuilding Co of Newcastle upon Tyne. A 5500 gross ton single screw steamer powered by a triple expansion engine by North Eastern Marine Co Ltd of Newcastle.
A photograph in the book shows the boiler a two furnace Scotch Boiler secured in No1 hold for the tow. It is unclear by the description as "Donkey boiler" whether this was an additional boiler to the main boilers or whether it was one of the main boilers being used on "Donkey" (Auxiliary) duty.
I would think the latter the most likely.
That's one hell of a flash back, there only supposed to blow the bl**dy doors off, sorry however to read there were casualties (we were very lucky when we had one, although the Fireman was badly burnt when he forgot to purge) Constantine is/was a well known NE shipping company it's Owner's are relative's of Su Constantine out of the programme Trinny and Susannah.
I did not know that Susannah of Trinny and Susannah was related to the Constantine ship owning family.
An uncle served for a number of years with the company and it seemed to be a well liked company to work for - he was mainly on Lochwood a British Polar engined passenger carrying ship on the Mediterranean trade.
It is difficult to see from the photograph of Kingswood's Scotch Boiler that became a missile as to what failed.
It could have been a ruptured furnace although I imagine low water level and collapse of one or both combustion chambers. I only coasted on the Scotch Boilered Brocklebank ships. I was never comfortable with all that 30 tons or so of boiling water in each of these big kettles. - I much preferred Water Tube Boilers with their water level controllers and low water level fuel shut offs.