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Sydney Harbour, Port Jackson and Manly

The first steamship to operate on Sydney harbour is believed to be the locally-built wooden hulled steamer "Surprise" which entered service between Sydney and Parramatta in 1831. Early the following year after an unsuccessful attempt to establish herself, the ship was sold for service at Hobart, Tasmania. It was not until 1878 that a formal company was established to regularise services across Sydney Harbour :  the North Shore Steam Ferry Company, which became Sydney Ferries Ltd in 1900.

Steamship services to Manly developed on a speculative basis in the 1850s, with services promoted by resort developer Henry Smith who chartered, then owned vessels as well as encouraging private owners ro offer services.
Port Jackson Steamship Company 1877-1907 (renamed Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company 1907) dominated business and saw off the Manly Cooperative Steam Ferry Company, formed in 1893, and, taking it over in 1896. The company still exists today but in a nationalised form as part of Sydney Ferries Corporation

Paddle Steamers (Double-ended ferries)

Fairlight (1878-1914)

Built in 1878 by T. Wingate & Co at Glasgow
171.4 x 22.2 ft : 315 GRT
Converted for use as a barge at Brisbane and used until 1928

Emu, later Brightside (1877-1897)
Built in 1865 by A & J Inglis of Poinhouse, Glasgow
170.8 x 22.1 ft : 270 GRT
Reassembled at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane
Operated by the Queensland Steam Navigation Company for use on the Brisbane River and at Moreton Bay
Moved to Sydney in 1868

Renamed Brightside in 1887

Sank at Neutral Bay in 1897. After being raised she operated as a cargo ship from 1902 until being lost to fire in 1908

Brighton (1883-1916)

Built in 1883 by Seath & Co, Rutherglen, Scotland.
220 x 23 ft : 417 GRT
2 x two cylinder compound oscillating engines by A Campbell of Glasgow
Delivered after an 89-day voyage with numerous encounters with heavy seas
In 1900 she was beached after a collision and subsequently repaired
Withdrawn in 1916, hulked and abandoned in Pindimar Bay, to the north of Newcastle 

Narrabeen (1886-1911)

Built in 1883 by Mort's Dock & Engineering Co
160.1 x 22 ft : 239 GRT
Rebuilt as a cargo vessel in 1911 and operated until 1917

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Historical database