The Screw Steamer SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ was built by Walter MacFarlane Ford Snr, in Berrys Bay, North Sydney, Australia, in 1883.

The SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ was a propeller driven screw steamer, built in Sydney by Walter MacFarlane Ford Snr., a legendary boat builder of Berrys Bay, North Sydney, New South Wales; for a Mr John Fenwick, who named the steamer after his wife, Charlotte.

” . . . The steamer Charlotte Fenwick, which was launched from Mr. Dunn’s yard, at Berry’s Bay, in September last, is now completed, and may be expected to commence work shortly.  She is a finely modelled vessel of the following dimensions:- Length, 90 feet ; beam, 18 feet ; depth of hold, 7 feet 6 inches, which give her a net register of 50 tons.  The Charlotte Fenwick is a screw steamer.  Her engines, which are on the compound surface condensing principle, were made by Messrs. Plenty and Sons, of Newbury, and are of 21 horse power nominal, the cylinders being of 12 inches and 22 inches, and the length of stroke 15 inches.  The Charlotte Fenwick is the property of Mr. John Fenwick, of Sydney . . . ”

 – Source:  Excerpt – ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ – published 12th July 1884

Charlotte Fenwick c 1895 b

SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ – c 1895

Gross Tonnage:  73

Net Tonnage:  50

Length:  90 ft (27.43 m)

Beam:  18 ft (5.49 m)

Depth:  7 ft 6 in (2.29 m)  

Owner:  Mr John Fenwick

Engine Builder:  Plenty & Sons, of Newbury

Engines:  21 hp – 12″ & 22″ Cylinders – Stroke Length 15″



Sep 1883 → the SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ was launched at Mr Dunns Yard in Berry’s Bay, North Sydney, Australia

Sep 1884 → the SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ was sent to Brisbane as a river and excursion steamer

Sep 1885 → the SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ soon returned to Sydney and was subsequently sold to Mr Lyall Scott:

Charlotte Fenwick Sold - Sydney Morning Herald - 25 Sep 1885

Sydney Morning Herald – 25 Sep 1885


The SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ spent the next few years running a service between Sydney and the Hawkesbury River, ran excursion tours and the like until she was sold to the Carpenter Brothers who intended to increase their fleet running Victoria’s Gippsland Lakes and rivers

1889 → meanwhile, back in Victoria, the opening of The Entrance at Lakes Entrance in 1889, promised greater access to Gippsland – its riches, its lakes, its rivers and beauty – and enterprising businessmen were ready to service the trade.

29 Mar 1890 → the SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ disabled:

” . . . Wiseman’s Ferry, Friday

The steamer Charlotte Fenwick, from Sydney, passing here on Wednesday last for Sackville, met with a mishap.  When up the river, it appears the hawser by some means got round the propeller, and thus disabled the boat.  As the obstruction could not be removed, the steam launch Binghie was sent for, and just now passed here with the Charlotte Fenwick in tow, bound for Post’s [?] Ferry, where the disabled steamer will be beached in order to clear the propeller, enabling her to return to Sydney . . . “

Source:  Excerpt – ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ (NSW) – Article “Accident to the Steamer Charlotte Fenwick” – published 29th March 1890

Charlotte Fenwick to Lakes - Sydney Morning Herald - 5 Aug 1890

Sydney Morning Herald – Tuesday 5 Aug 1890

5 Aug 1890 → the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ reported on this day that the Carpenter Brothers intended to use the SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ as a tug boat, cargo vessel, for deep sea fishing (generally between the Kent Group Islands and Melbourne) and the occasional excursion trip

13 Aug 1890 → the SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ broke her propeller shaft en route to Gippsland

Charlotte Fenwick Wollongong - The Argus - 13 Aug 1890

The Argus – 13 Aug 1890






Charlotte Fenwick Gippsland Lake c 1890 Refit

Charlotte Fenwick being Refitted – Gippsland Lakes c 1890

24 Aug 1890 → the SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ arrived at the Gippsland Lakes.  She serviced the Gippsland Lakes, Bass Strait, trips to Melbourne, etc. – as was intended experiencing many an incident along the way . . .   Being such a tough little steamer, she was repaired, recovered, refurbished, refloated . . .  – and, was sent straight back into service . . .


29 Dec 1893 

” . . . On Friday the steamer Tanjil, belonging to Mr Dahlsen, took refuge near the willows and the steamer Charlotte Fenwick, belonging to Messrs Carpenter Bros., but at present under charter to the Public Works department as a tug boat, etc., for the dredge Wombat, took up a position there also.  During Friday night the Fenwick was driven on to the Eagle Point road, and became stranded, and now lies high and dry on the road.  The task of slipping her into the river will be an expensive one, and will have to be borne by the Government . . . “

 – Source:  Excerpt – ‘Bairnsdale Advertiser’ – published 4th January 1894

Charlotte Fenwick, Omeo & JDC at New Works c 1895

Charlotte Fenwick, Omeo & JDC at New Works c 1895


Charlotte Fenwick Fish - Bairnsdale Advertiser - 24 Dec 1891

Bairnsdale Advertiser – 24 Dec 1891

Charlotte Fenwick Collision - The Argus - 21 Apr 1900

The Argus – 21 Apr 1900

She was often docked at the tiny settlement of “New Works”, located just inside ‘The Entrance’, which housed the workers who built ‘The Entrance’.  The late 19th century saw the SS “Charlotte Fenwick’ servicing the Bass Strait fishing industry as well as being hired for fishing excursions.

21 Apr 1900 → the SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ was involved in a dreadful collision when the SS ‘Despatch’ crashed into her and the PS ‘Tanjil’ as reported in the ‘Argus’  – “Marine Collision at Bairnsdale”

1901 → she was sent to Sydney in 1901, for a full overhaul and refurbishment

1902 → saw the SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ chartered by a Mr M Walsh to run daily services in Port Phillip Bay from Melbourne to Mornington via Mentone, Mordialloc and Frankston – whilst still being chartered for fishing excursions.  Even during the coal strikes the SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ could loyally service her timetable, as her engines could easily adapt to wood as her fuel . . .

Charlotte Fenwick Timetable - Queenscliff Sentinel - 23 Jan 1915

Queenscliff Sentinel – 23 Jan 1915






1916 → this sturdy little steamer continued her service until she was put up for sale in late 1916.

Oct 1918 → the SS ‘Charlotte Fenwick’ was purchased by a Mr E Dunn in the October of 1918 to take up a run on the Hawkesbury River as a cargo boat

14 May 1920 → sadly, after 37 years of faithful service on the rivers, lakes, seas and oceans – the SS “Charlotte Fenwick’ was destroyed by fire on the 14 May 1920 . . .


View other important events in the history of Victoria’s Coastal Runs . . .

View other important events in the history of Gippsland’s Steamers . . .

View other important events in the history of The Steamers of Port Phillip Bay . . .