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Side-Wheeled Paddle Steamers
: Pekin, built in 1873 at Glasgow was the largest paddle steamer in
gross registered capacity terms built at at UK yard for river and
inshore work. She served for almost forty years. Photo : Published on the internet by the Scottish Built Ships shipbuilding database (ex - Old Ship Picture Galleries) Scottish-built paddle steamers
Denny & Bros of Dumbarton and A & J Inglis of Pointhouse,
Glasgow, were regular paddle steamer
suppliers to overseas markets especially where British companies and
entrepreneurs had influence. Although the number supplied for use in
China was few, they did include some exceptionally large paddle
In 1864 Denny supplied
(297.3 ft : 1903
GRT) to Jardine, Matheson of Hong Kong. She was later registered at
the Union Steam Navigation Company (in 1873) after the company was
bought by John Swire who was intent on developing trade on the Yangtse
river. Ownership changed
to the newly-established China Navigation Company, mostly financed by the London and Hong Kong-based Swire, the following year.
China Navigation Company embarked on a massive expansion programme with
the paddle steamers ordered from Scotland but reminiscent of the
large paddle steamers being built in the USA and featuring beam engines
- typical for the USA but unheard of in Europe.
of the largest paddle steamers ever delivered by a British yard
were the three sisters built by A&J Inglis of Pointhouse, Glasgow
in 1873 and 1874 for the China Navigation Company : Pekin, Shanghai and Hankow.
3076 Gross registered tons they were the largest inland and inshore
paddlers built by a British yard, although not the longest at 290.9 feet in length.
- Pekin served until 1912 until being used as an accommodation ship for at least a further thirty years
was lost on 25th December 1890 when she burned out en route from
Shanghai to Hankow with the loss of over 200 lives. The hull
was hulked, surviving until 1935
operated until 1892 when it was moved to Hong Kong to run to Macao and
Canton. She was lost on 14th October 1906 to a fire at the quayside in
Hong Kong with 130 lives lost. The hull was hulked and used in various
locations until the 1940s
As well as the three very large paddle steamers, Inglis also supplied the Ichang (242.6 ft : 1782 GRT) and also with a walking beam engine. The ship was wrecked in 1891 with 43 deaths.
Inglis also supplied three passenger and cargo paddle steamers, Shin King (219.2 ft : 1249 GRT), Kiang Kwan (230.1 ft : 1637 GRT) and Kiang Yung (250.1 ft : 2118 GRT), at the same time to China Merchants' Steam Navigation Co. of Shanghai.
- Shin King was sold in 1874 but had a long life as Hae-An from being repurchased in 1877 to being scuttled as part of a boom defence of the Whangpoo River at Shanghai in 1937 - Kiang Kwan sank after a collision in 1918 - Kiang Yung was destroyed after an ammunition explosion in 1926
- Glengyle was wrecked in 1875 after a grounding at Namoa Island on the Chinese coast and 210
lives were lost
A&J Inglis' subsequent and last paddle steamer for China was the Honam of 1882 (270 ft : 2363 GRT and with a walking beam engine), for the Hong Kong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Company which sailed until 1926
Blackwood & Gordon, shipbuilders at Port Glasgow, supplied a paddle steamer, Pioneer, to the Yangtse Trading Company
in kit form for local reassembly in 1900. Smaller than the big Inglis
steamers (180 ft) and of shallow draught to negotiate the river, it was
fitted with more traditional European-style compound diagonal engines
of 18.5 and 32 in x 60 in and was destined for work in the upper
reaches of the Yangtse at Chongquing. Almost before she could enter
service she was requisitioned and bought by the British Admiralty and
converted to a river gunboat, renamed Kinsha
in anticipation of action against the so-called Boxer rebels who were
in uprising against foreign presence in China agreed only under duress.
Records suggest that she survied until 1937 named Shukong. Other Paddle Steamers
TUN SIN Built in 1863 by Samuda Bros. London 241.3 ft : 773 GRT 2 cyl oscillating engine : 46 and 46 in x 50 in by John Penn of Greenwich Built for the Shanghai- Ningpo - Hankow service of London-based George Barnet & Co Subsequent ownership : Union Steam Navigation Co of Shanghai (1867) and China Navigation Co (1863) Hulked at Swatow in 1885