Captain Edward Goldsmith’s “unwieldy steamer”, the twin ferry “Kangaroo”

A short legal history of the vehicular paddle steam ferry “Kangaroo”
Described as “Denison’s Folly” by the colonial press in 1855; a great lumbering vessel by Mr. A. Riddoch the City Coroner in July 1896; an unwieldy steamer by Justice Dodds in October 1896, and a hazard to shipping by shipwreck enthusiasts, the Kangaroo was built by Elizabeth Rachel Nevin’s uncle Captain Edward Goldsmith at his slipyard on the Queen’s Domain, Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) for the colonial government in 1854-1855. It was still in operation well into the first decades of the 20th century. Owned by the O’May Bros when this photograph was taken by John Watt Beattie’s partner Edward Searle between 1911 and 1916, its service was terminated in 1925 and replaced by the Lurgerena in 1926. In 1928 at its moorings at Bellerive, the Kangaroo sank and was destroyed with explosives.

Creator Searle, E. W. (Edward William) 1887-1955
Title S.S. Kangaroo, Hobart to Bellerive ferry, Hobart, ca. 1913 [picture] / E.W. Searle
Call Number PIC P838/229a LOC Cold store SEA Box 3
Created/Published btween 1911 and 1916
Extent 1 negative : glass, b&w ; 12 x 16.3 cm.
Physical Context PIC P838 LOC Drawer Q43-E.W. Searle collection of photographs [picture]./S.S. Kangaroo, Hobart to Bellerive ferry, Hobart, ca. 1913 [picture]
National Library of Australia:Link:

The Kangaroo was launched from Captain Goldsmith’s yard on April 4, 1855. It measured 110ft x 40ft x 11ft, consisting of two boats each of 11ft beam. It was strongly built of blue gum and planked with kauri pine. The engines came from London, and were placed on the deck. The paddle wheel, with 13 floats worked in the middle between the two boats. The rudders were at each end. The trial trip took place on September 29, 1855. Commanders of the Kangaroo in succession were Captain Rockwell, Captain Hooper, Captain Taylor, and the O’May brothers Captains Harry O’May, and George O’May. Two incidents involving Captain James Staines Taylor and the Kangaroo are the focus here.

The Kangaroo was involved in eight collisions between 1856 and 1925, causing five fatalities on the River Derwent. Included in this account are transcripts of coroners’ reports and court proceedings recounting witness accounts of two of those collisions: the collision with the ferry Garibaldi with the loss of two passengers Daniel Graham, grocer and Mrs Buckland, and the master, Bill the boatman – William Small – in 1866; and the collision with a small boat in Kangaroo Bay with the loss of a young man, Arthur Ashala Lambert, in 1896, leading to a charge of manslaughter involving the Kangaroo‘s owner, Captain James Staines Taylor.

Some facts and a summary from the Encyclopedia of Australian Shipwrecks, Shipwrecks of Tasmania

Kangaroo. Twin-hulled paddle steam ferry, 109/109 gross (engines located on deck). # 32051.
Built Hobart, 1855; reg. Hobart 2/1857, 15/1912. Lbd (each hull) 110.4 x 11.4 x 7.2 ft. First conceived around 1850, the Kangaroo was a technical success, but proved a financial disaster for her original operators, the Government of Tasmania. Although originally fitted with steering wheels, for the later years was steered from aft by a tiller, commands being shouted from the top of the deckhouse as the helmsman could not see ahead because of the high engine-house fitted amidships. This serious defect made the 1855-vintage twin-hulled paddle steamer a hazard to all shipping for half a century before she was fitted with a conventional bridge and wheel on top of the engine house, after being purchased by the O’May brothers in 1903. Sank at her moorings at the disused Bellerive railway jetty, Tasmania, 2 January 1928. Eventually blown up. [TS2],[TS1]


  • On 9 November 1856, collided with the brig Prospere.
  • On 1 February 1857, collided with a boat from the schooner Balmoral, drowning one of its crew.
  • On 3 December 1866, collided with the ferry Garibaldi, drowning the master and two passengers.
  • On 16 August 1894, under master-owner James Taylor, cut the fishing boat Emily (owner-master William Seymour) in two, whilst she was at anchor off Kangaroo Point, Tasmania. No loss of life.
  • On 16 July 1896, ran into another small boat at anchor in Kangaroo Bay with the loss of one man. The Kangaroo’s master was tried for manslaughter, but acquitted.
  • In January 1916, collided with the steamer Cartela.
  • In January 1920, stranded at Bellerive, Tasmania.
  • On 19 December 1925, collided with ketch May Queen, through negligence of both masters.

Prospere. Brig. Collided with the steam ferry Kangaroo, Tasmanian waters, 9 November 1856. [TS2]
Balmoral. Schooner. A boat from the schooner was hit by the steam ferry Kangaroo, Tasmanian waters, drowning one of its crew, 1 February 1857. [TS2]
Garibaldi. Ferry. Collided with the steam ferry Kangaroo, Tasmanian waters, 3 December 1866,. The master and two passengers drowned. [TS2]
Emily. Fishing boat. Master-owner John Seymour. Run down by the trans-Derwent ferry Kangaroo, whilst at anchor off Kangaroo Point, Tasmania, 9 August 1894. No loss of life. [TS1]
Cartela. Steamer. Collided with the steam ferry Kangaroo, Tasmanian waters, January 1916. [TS2]
May Queen. Ketch. Collided with the steam ferry Kangaroo, Tasmanian waters, 19 December 1925. Both masters deemed negligent. [TS2]

Source: Online:

Maritime Museum of Tasmania
Cartela on the slip
Object number P_DIG_2013-0115

May Queen, photograph by Fred Reid, ca. 1930s (?)
Maritime Museum of Tasmania

Maritime Museum of Tasmania
Waiting for the ferry at Bellerive.
Chandler collection
Lantern slide
Object number P_GSL064

Captain Goldsmith and the “Kangaroo”
The Kangaroo was launched from Captain Goldsmith’s yard on April 4, 1855. Critics voiced concerns that private operators of ferry services would suffer with competition from the government operating a steamer ferry service. Not that the colonial government met its own commitments at the end of the day. The cost to Captain Goldsmith in completing this ferry for the government warranted a full airing in the press. This report from the Colonial Times was published just days before Christmas, 1855:



Everybody by this time must have noticed an odd-looking vessel lying off Mr. M’Gregor’s yard, near the battery in the domain. It looks odd, as we have said. Uncommonly broad in the middle, it tapers on deck at either end, while the keel is split beneath ; on the deck is a queer looking house with a model of a tread-wheel, and surmounted by a chimney. This is the twin ferry-boat ” Kangaroo.” During the last session Mr. Chapman moved for the production of the correspondence of the Government upon the various matters connected with this boat, and it has been laid on the table by the Colonial Secretary [Champ, William Thomas Napier] , is printed by order of the House, and a copy is now lying before us. The House has done well in ordering the publication of this correspondence. Reviewing it, we propose to recapitulate the history of the boat.

By a despatch to Earl Grey, dated 18th October, 1850, Sir William Denison transmitted a bill to authorise the borrowing of a sum of money necessary for the “establishment of a steam ferry between Hobart Town and Kangaroo Point,” for the royal assent. The bill was to enable the Van Diemen’s Land Government to borrow £5000, in order to carry out the undertaking in a proper and satisfactory manner. What Sir William Denison, in the plenitude of his engineering wisdom, understood by a proper and satisfactory manner, may be gathered from his own communications on the subject. He proposed two boats, to be double, worked by a central paddle-wheel, to be able to steam at the rate of nine miles per hour ; the boats to be so constructed that here-after they might be employed as a steam bridge [not a literal bridge], and the whole to cost no more than £4000. It was suggested that the wood work could be provided better and cheaper out here than in England, but it was absolutely necessary that the engines should be made there. The bill received the royal assent, and the matter of the engines was put into the hands of Mr. Lloyd, the engineer of the Woolwich Dock-yard. In October, 1851, Mr. Lloyd writes to Mr. Merivale that “having carefully considered the requirements as specified in the paper drawn up by Sir William Denison, the two boats, with their machinery complete, and drum, etc. for the chain, could not, in his opinion, be built for less than £9000.” This reply of the Inspector of steam machinery being communicated to Sir W. Denison, is found in the correspondence before us, but we have no record of his reply. We gather, however, from the rest of the correspondence, that he took it very coolly, and said that if it was not possible to get two boats for the money, that one must do.

On the 20th December, 1852, Mr. Champ wrote to Mr. Barnard, assuming that he had received instructions relative to the purchase of a steam-engine for a ferry-boat, etc , and a draft for £3000, and re-questing that a competent engineer might be engaged for the colony. Messrs. Seaward and Capel tendered for the construction of the machinery for £3000, and the work was shipped by the ” Colonist,” together with a feeding engine, subsequently ordered. The same firm furnished the specifications for the wood work. Now commences the history of the construction of this boat in the colony. We have before us a copy of the contract entered into by Mr. Goldsmith. The contractor, by an agreement made the 19th July, 1853, engaged to provide all the labour and workmanship necessary, the government finding the materials, for the sum of £20 per ton, builders’ measurement, and to finish it in eight months after the receipt of keel pieces, floor timbers, etc. It was further stipulated that the payments of the government should be made in timber, the contractor taking it at the current market prices, on the dates at which it should be delivered. About August, 1855, the boat was ready for immediate use, just two years after the signature of the contract. We have no record before us of the date at which the keel pieces, etc were furnished, nor does that very much matter. In two years’ time from the signature of the contract the twin ferry boat floated, just as it has done for the last five months, ready for immediate use, at a cost of £8941 2s. 9d., with out-standing claims upon it to the amount of £8688 12s 8d. more, making a “grand ” total of £17629 15s. 5d. ! And Sir Wm. Denison estimated the original expense at £2000. In the statement of the cost we find the following items:- Wages to 31st August, £641 2s. ; materials, stores, pine, etc, £2865 3s. 10d., and so on; salary of engineer to 31st August, £492 18s. ; passage money for engineer, £41. These last items are explicable enough. When the “Colonist” arrived here on the 4th of February, 1854, she brought not only the engines, but an engineer also, Mr. Boden, who had been engaged in England, pursuant to Mr. Champ’s request, for three years, at a salary of £240 per annum, with the usual free passages, the engagement to take effect from the time of the ship leaving England. The ” Colonist” left on the 18th October, 1853, so that on the 18th of last October there had been paid to Mr. Boden just two years’ salary, or £480, and the steamer has as yet only carried a few friends of Mr. Goldsmith‘s as far as Risdon, we believe, and back. Nor do we see much prospect just now that she will ever do any more.

On the 21st August Mr. Champ wrote to Mr. Goldsmith that the original understanding appeared to have been that the contractor should receive £20 per ton on one hundred and seven tons, or £2140, and that the demand of £9400 1s. so much in excess, that the Governor could neither admit its correctness, nor propose such a vote to the Legislative Council. Mr. Goldsmith replies by a reference to the original contract, which was to build the boat at twenty pounds per ton, builders’ measurement, and that he is content to receive payment at that price. Mr. John Watson measured the boat, and the contractor rests his claim upon his measurement. In reference to the assumption, that he was to build it for £20 per ton, for one hundred and seven tons, the contractor supposes that it has its origin in an estimate made by the Director of Public Works, without his knowledge or concurrence. He further remarks, that he was to have been paid in timber at the market price, but that this contract has never been fulfilled, by which he has incurred a loss, having made arrangements for its shipment to Victoria; to this cause too, the delay in her completion is to be attributed. And indeed in the statement of the cost of the twin ferry boat ” Kangaroo,” we find that the contractor has only received timber to the value of £256 10s. 2d., and cash to the amount of £1000. The reply is that the Government will not object to submit the matter to arbitration, Mr. Goldsmith replies that he finds his outlay exceeds £6000, without any charge for his own time, interest of money, use of yard, etc, and suggests that the Government shall give him £5000 at once, when he will leave to arbitration the amount to which he is entitled beyond that sum. To this the Colonial Secretary demurs, but offers the sum of £5000 in full of all demands, and there the correspondence concludes. After reading the whole of it, we are very painfully impressed with the consciousness that the whole of our local functionaries, from the highest to the lowest, have proved themselves grossly incompetent to the conduct of such a trifling affair as the building of a ferry-boat. Take the Governor’s estimate, the terms of the contract, the estimate of the Director of Public Works, and you find the same gross incompetency to deal with the details of the question. The fact is our money has been jobbed away, or fooled away ; we think it is the latter. We remember that a very little while ago we had a beautiful vessel in our waters; the Heather Bell, built in Britain regardless of expense, and after the most approved model, and a very fine ship it is. Well, if we understand rightly, this vessel was built, rigged, stored, and brought out here for less money than the trumpery twin-steamer Kangaroo will cost. We would suggest that her name be forth-with changed, and that instead of the Kangaroo she be called ” the Denison folly. “

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), Friday 21 December 1855, page 2

Passenger and Cargo Fares by the Twin Ferry Boat Kangaroo 1855

List of fares, twin ferry boat ‘Kangaroo’.
Date 1855? Contents 1 broadside ; 34 x 21 cm.
Publisher Hobart, Tas. : s.n., 1855?
State Library of NSW

1856-57: Sale and departure
Without doubt, the major factor in Captain Goldsmith’s decision to leave Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) permanently was considerable monies owing to him by the Government for the construction of the twin ferry, the Kangaroo and the reneging of agreements concerning the site location and lease, the supply of timber and driving of piles for the patent slip. From late December through to February 1856, the colonial newspapers in Hobart, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane made it known that the contractor, Captain Goldsmith, was paid in small amounts totalling less than £1000 in cash, plus £256 in timber, while his own outlay exceeded £6000 “without any charge for his own time, interest of money, use of yard etc”. The real costs to him personally, he claimed, were higher than £9400. The Colonial Secretary offered just £5000 to Captain Goldsmith and no more. The initial unrealistic estimate of £4000 by Sir William Denison, which paid a deposit on the machinery, the engineer’s dues and little else, was further compounded by inadequate supplies of timber from Port Arthur and Cascade due to scarcity of prison labor, a matter put to a Select Committee inquiry into corruption within the Convict Department. In total, the whole cost of this little ferry amounted to more than £17,629 (Sydney Morning Herald, 6 January, 1856). Captain Goldsmith left Tasmania grossly out of pocket and undoubtedly soured by memories of functionaries who had taken advantage of his generosity and good will. His lease on the slipyard at the “Paddock”, the Queen’s Domain, including all machinery, buildings, and wharves, was transferred to merchant Askin Morrison and ship builder Alexander McGregor for the sum of £4500 paid to Captain Goldsmith on 23 August 1855. He departed the colony with his wife Elizabeth and son Edward Goldsmith jnr as passengers on the Indian Queen in February 1856, never to return. Askin Morrison also bought the Kangaroo in 1857.

A retrospective article on ship building in Tasmania, published in the Mercury 23rd June 1882, praised Captain Edward Goldsmith on two counts for his contribution to shipping: the ferry Kangaroo launched in 1855 from his slipyard, and the construction of a patent slip at the Queen’s Domain. Sir John Franklin’s nephew, William Porden Kay, was the Director of Public Works in 1855 when he wrote the Report on Captain Goldsmith’s Patent Slip. The Report covers the years 1849 to 1855, from the first date of Captain Goldsmith’s proposal of a patent slip, to Captain Goldsmith’s receipt of timber in November 1854 on condition work started on the slip within six months. The report details the frustrations, delays, obstacles, objections and unreasonable conditions placed on Captain Goldsmith prior to his sale of his interest to the McGregor brothers. Read Porden Kay’s full report here and the events of 1854 which precipitated Captain Goldsmith’s departure:

Captain James Staines Taylor and the “Kangaroo”

Captain James Staines Taylor (1833-1910) ca. 1892
State Library of Tasmania (glass negative), and
Maritime Museum of Tasmania (lantern slide)
Notes: Captain J Taylor acquired the ferry KANGAROO from Askin Morrison and ran her for decades with his ‘well-known bell-topper’.
He steered it by tiller and trusted to luck not to run over anything

James Staines Taylor is believed to have arrived in Tasmania on board the Indian Queen in 1855. As a 23 year old with ambitions to succeed in the colony, he may well have met Captain Edward Goldsmith who was preparing his final departure from the colony with his family as passengers on the Indian Queen‘s return journey to Liverpool, UK, in early February 1856. When giving testimony to the coroner’s court in December 1866 on the death of three people killed in a collision with the Kangaroo, he stated he was the owner of the vessel for nearly four years, having purchased it presumably from Askin Morrison, who in turn had purchased it in 1857, underwritten by the colonial government.

1866, December: Three deaths from collision with the “Kangaroo”
The name of the boat which was hit by the Kangaroo was not mentioned in any of these newspaper reports, although it is listed as the Garibaldi by the Encyclopedia of Australian Shipwrecks (see COLLISIONS above):

Extract: Tasmanian Morning Herald Hobart, Tas.Tue 11 Dec 1866 Page 3



Saturday, 8th December, 1866.

This adjourned inquest, touching the death of Mary Ann Todd, better known as Mrs Buckland, took place at the Exchange Hotel (Mr Allen’s) at 11 o’clock precisely, before A . B. Jones, Esq, Coroner, and a jury of seven, of which W. Knight, Esq, J.P., was foreman.

Mr Graves was present to watch the proceedings on the part of Mr Taylor. Mary Seymour, the daughter of Alfred Seymour, aged 10 years, deposed that she knew the deceased Mrs Buckland, and was in the boat with her and the boatman Bill, and Daniel Graham, going from Hobart Town to Kangaroo Point, on Monday last.

Bill the boatman was sailing the boat; there was but one sail ; they were in the middle of the river about 12 o’clock, when they were ran over by the steamer ; Bill the boatman turned to the steamer when it came up ; he was turned away from it before this time ; the woman was sitting on the thwart [strut placed crosswise as a seat] in the middle of the boat; the boatman was sitting by the sail ; the liitle boy was steering ; she (the witness) was sitting on the right side of the boat in the stern sheets ; she did not see the steamer until it was over them , the boat capsized, and she held on to the steamer ; Mrs Buckland was near her, but she lost sight of her soon ; the paddle wheels stopped, and the surf was so strong it washed her away ; she floated to tbe other end, and Mr Cohen took her up ; he did not know what became of the man and boy ; she did not see where the boat went after it capsized ; the boatman was holding the long rope of the sheet; just before the steamer ran over them, the boatman called out, hoy, hoy ; it was about tbe length of the room from the steamer when he called out; that was about 30 feet, or 10 yards; the sail was drawn tight to the gunwale of the boat; it was a sprit tail ; there were two bags of flour, a bundle, and a can of yeast right in the middle of the boat ; she thought the boat was down in the water at the stern ; the boatman was perfectly sober; the lad who was steering was so, and so also was the woman ; the boatman jumped and shouted out just as the steamer came up ; the boat did not capsize until the steamer sunk it ; the paddles had not stopped until the boat was struck ; the boatman did not say anything to the boy about steering ; Mrs Buckland spoke to the boy all along to mind what he was about, and the boy said he was all right.

By a juror — She did not see any of the others hanging to the steamer but herself ; she was between the knees of the steamer under the deck; she could not see any one clinging there ; she went right under the steamer, the paddle was not going then ; she did not remember touching the paddle.

By another juror — The steamer struck the boat by the nose ; she thought it was the paddle struck the boat.

By the Coroner — She did not hear anyone call out that the steamer was coming ; it was all along Mrs Buckland was cautioning the boy ; it was from the time of leaving Hobart Town.

Hugh Graham, 11 years of age, son of Daniel Graham, grocer, Kangaroo Point, deposed that he knew the deceased as Mrs Buckland, he was on board the Kangaroo steamer on Monday last, as they were crossing the river, a boat went under her; he did not see the boat go under; he was with the captain of the steamer, who was repairing the mast of his yacht on the stern part of the deck; there was no one on the top of the engine house; there was no one forwards he was sure of that; there were a crew of five on the steamer at the time; Mr Smith was in the engine room; the boy was there also; Mr Cohen was steering; he saw the boat come out the other way after the accident; he did not hear anything said about a boat coming before that; the steamer had no boat with it; he saw two persons in the water, and he saw Cohen go down and come up with the little girl under his arm; he saw the man sink; he did not then know it was Bill the Boatswain; he saw the woman floating; another boat picked her up; she was put on board the steamer. There was none of the crew or the passengers forward at the time.

By a juror — He did not know where the other man Murray was. He believed he was below, but he was not forward. He did not know that his brother was in the capsized boat at the time.

William Smith, engineer on board of the Kangaroo Steamer, deposed that he knew the deceased by the name of Buckland. On Monday last his attention was called to a boat at about half past 11 o’clock, while the steamer was on her way to Hobart Town.

He was below in the engine house, and looked out and stopped the paddles at once. It was an ordinary waterman’s boat, and about 10 yards in front. It was coming right on to the steamer. He did not see any one in the boat at the time. He stopped the paddles instead of reversing them, to prevent the people in the boat from being crushed to pieces. As soon as the boat passed through they reversed the engines until they were near the little girl. The little girl was recovered. They steamed towards the man Small the boatman. The boatman was swimming. He threw a wood barrow to him. He appeared exhausted, and sank immediately after. He saw nothing more, after hauling the deceased on board from a waterman’s boat. The steamer was going at the rate of 7 knots at the time. This was her usual speed at present. He thought the boat was going pretty free, and could go to either side of the steamer. There was no boat on the steamer. He could not say whether there was any look out. He did not know whether the captain has received any instructions from the Marine Board, respecting the sailing of the steamer. He has been in her 8 years and 5 months.

By the Foreman —There were life buoys formerly on board. This was about three years ago. They were worn out. He was inside, and could not say whether there was a look out. The look out was usually on the forward part of the boat.

By a juror — It is usual to keep a man forward on the look out. He did not know where the rest of the crew were, except the boy. She has been on shore for to be repaired. She did not carry a boat before Mr Taylor had her. She has not a boat on board now. He believed that the steamer belongs to Mr Taylor. He receives his wages from him.

By the Foreman — Mr Taylor is not a seafaring man, that is, not a sailor.

By a Juror — He has not served his apprenticeship to the sea; the steamer steers as handily as other ordinary steamers.

Isaac Cohen, a carpenter, employed on board the steamer Kangaroo, on Monday last; it was about half past 11 o’clock on coming from Kangaroo Point, he was steering; he heard a cry as if stop her, and immediately a crash at the head of the steamer; he opened the grating of the paddle-box and looked down and saw the girl; the paddles were stopped immediately; he jumped in and saved the girl; he saw the man, but he had no recollection of seeing the boy; he did not see in front while steering, as they had two loads of hay on the sides of the engine-house; he could not say where Captain Taylor was then, nor where Murray was then; he cannot say whether there was a look out forward; he did not recollect seeing any one on the engine room; the floats are 9 and half feet long, and there are about three feet space for them to work clear of the beam.

By a Juror — He is not a seaman, but he has been at sea for three years and at others times besides; he is a cooper by trade, but works as a carpenter; the crew consists of the engineer and boy, and three men on deck including the captain -, it is their duty to keep a look out,- they could not steer that steamer from the top of the engine-house.

By a Juror — The Captain was making a mast at the time of tbe accident: he makes everything they can on board; they were more than a mile from the bluff; there was no boat on board; if they had a boat, it is likely they could have saved Small; the woman was the farthest off from the steamer; they have two or three boats, but they have none on board; it may be for three months since they had one boat on board; he has been 8 years on board; Captain Rockwell gave directions always about tbe look-out if he remained on shore; he was not aware of any regulations from the Marine Board in cases of emergencies; there is no acting mate on board now.

William Dear, a waterman, deposed that he knew deceased, but did not know her name; he took her over to Kangaroo Point several times; on Monday he was going to Kangaroo Point with a passenger about 11 o’clock ; he had a steady sea breeze, and when he reached the middle of the river he looked under the foot of the sail to see where the steamer was; he saw her going astern; he thought something was wrong and steered towards her; he discovered two bags floating about 20 yards from her. He took his sail down, and went to the bags, and heard them calling out from the steamer, and then his attention was directed to the woman; she was floating between him and the steamer;. she was on her left side with her face towards the steamer; he got her into the boat and took her to the steamer; she appeared to be dead; he went to the boat that had been capsized, she was about 40 or 50 yards from the steamer, and turned the boat over to see if any person was fast to it; the boat was greatly knocked about in the forepart; he recovered the two bags and made the capsized boat fast to a craft and then went on to Kangaroo Point; the steamer steered on for Hobart Town; he could not say low the tide was as he paid no attention to it; he was on the starboard tack running free; he has been working on the river for nearly 30 years, on and off; he has been at sea sometimes during that period; if the boatman in the capsized boat saw the steamer, he thought he could keep her off; a boat would answer her helm more freely than a vessel and could be kept off.

By a juror — Leaving Hobart Town without a fair breeze they pulled up towards the battery to get to windward and to get easily into Kangaroo Point. They go at either side of the steamer in crossing. The small boats keep out of the way of the large boats. There are no regulations issued to them to keep out of the way of the steamer. He is not aware of the steamer having any regulations on the subject either. He knew the boatman William Small, who had been on the ferry eight or nine years. He did not know what kind of boatman he was. He believed him to be a careful man.

By another juror — There are no rules between the boatman here, to avoid collision, but they give way and avoid each other in the best way they can.

By another juror — The other boat had a less sail than he had, and if he had been close to the wind he should have kept her off it if he saw the steamer coming: He did not see the captain of the steamer steer up to a boat, to rock it, or see what passengers were in it. He never did it to him, and he crossed frequently.

George Murray, of Rosny, employed on board the steamer Kangaroo, about 7 months, deposed to the facts, similar to those mentioned by the engineer and the witness Cohen. He did not see the collision. He did not know where Mr Taylor was at the time. He was down in the cabin for 10 or 12 minutes. Mr Taylor was in the midship, when he went down. It was the practice for him to look out when he was not steering. He went to shut down the side lights and put the table in order. This was part of his duty on board. This duty is done without any person being put in his place, Mr Taylor was instructing Cohen about the mast on the previous trip.

By a Juror – He did not tell Mr Taylor he was going to put the side lights up. They close them when the sea breeze comes up.

By another Juror — He has got directions when Mr Taylor has been busy to keep a lookout. He generally walks up and down the deck. If he saw danger he would speak to Mr Taylor or the engineer to atop the vessel.

By another Juror -That was not the usual hour for laying the table . He was clearing up the cabin. There are no written instructions to keep out of the way of boats. It has been the usual practice for them to keep away , if they saw any danger approaching.

Mr Turnley saw deceased on Monday last, between 11 and 12 o’clock. She was lying on the deck of the Kangaroo steamer, and was apparently dead. He was joined by Dr Butler. They used the means for resuscitating her, but without success. He made a post mortem examination, there were no marks of violence to account for death. The brain and lungs were congested, presenting the appearances consistent with death from drowning. It was his opinion that death arose from this cause. Total submersion for four minutes is supposed to be long enough, to preclude the possibility of resuscitation. Cases have been mentioned where this has taken place. After a submersion of 8, 10 and one of 14 minutes, but it is doubtful whether total submersion took place for that length of time.

The coroner on calling up Mr James Taylor, told him that it was right he should caution him as to what he was to say, as it may affect him. Mr Taylor said he was owner of the steamer for nearly four years. He knew the deceased as Mrs Buckland. He received no instructions from the Marine Board, or Harbour Master, as to avoiding collisions with boats crossing or recrossing the river. He managed the steamer himself. He has not been a seafaring man. He was in the after part of the vessel, giving Cohen instructions about some work he was about to do. It was usual to keep a look out. He did not know where Murray was. It was Murray’s duty to look out. Murray had no right to go down, without informing him. He would have taken his place forward, if he knew he had gone down. It is necessary to close the side lights as soon as the sea breeze comes up. The cabin would be inundated immediately, if they were not shut down. It is three or four months since they carried a boat. It has been next to impossible to keep a boat on the steamer, owing to the traffic, and the way she is built.

One of the jurors said in the Tay [Dundee, Scotland] they have a similar steamer, and they have davits high enough to clear the vessel and the wharf.

This led to a lengthened conversation, when Mr Taylor said he should for the future carry a boat, however he managed to do it. He saw the boat coming, and ran to stop the engines, but by the time he got to the engine house they were stopped. The steamer is registered as a sea going vessel.

It was remarked that this would bring the steamer under the regulations of any other vessels leaving the port.

The Coroner said there was one witness that was away in a craft, and he understood he saw fully what took place, and if they wished for the evidence of the man, he would adjourn the inquest. If they were of opinion that the case was to go to another court, it would be better to have the witness referred to.

The jury after consulting for some time decided on an adjournment until Wednesday next at 3 o’clock.

Source: Tasmanian Morning Herald (Hobart, Tas. ), Tuesday 11 December 1866, page 2

Twin Ferry Kangaroo, Hobart [n.s. n.d.] ca. 1880
Source: ePrints, University of Tasmania

1874, 10 September: contract for the “Kangaroo”.
Captain Taylor sought this twelve month contract with the colonial government at £20 per month in order to subsidize his operation of the ferry Kangaroo:


Laid upon the Table by the Colonial Treasurer, September 10, 1874, and ordered by the House to be printed.

Hobart Town, 10th September 1874.

I have the honor to submit the following proposals for the consideration of the Government with reference to the maintenance of the steamer Twins on the Ferry between Hobart and Bellerive : –

I am prepared to keep and maintain the steamer Twins in good order and condition on the Ferry between Hobart Town and Bellerive, and to run her four trips each way every day, Sundays and certain other days mentioned below excepted. starting punctually at the under-mentioned hours; viz. –

[etc etc see timetable]

I also submit the annexed Tariff of Charges as the maximum rates to be charged in the several cases.

Except from accident to the steamer, or from other unforeseen and unpreventable causes, I undertake that the vessel shall not be laid up for cleansing or repairs more than two days on an average in each month.

I also undertake to convey all Police Constables, Prisoners, and Paupers free of charge.

In consideration of the due and faithful fulfilment of the above undertaking, the Government to pay me at the rate of Twenty Pounds per month; and from such payment to deduct Thirty Shillings for every whole day the steamer fails to run, or Fifteen Shillings for every half or lesser portion of a day she fails to run at the appointed hours.

The Agreement or Contract to be in force for twelve months from the date of signature.

I have the honor to be,
Sir, Your most obedient Servant, J. TAYLOR

The Honorable the Colonial Secretary.

LIST of Fares & by Twin Ferry-Boat “Kangaroo” [etc etc- second page of document]

Captain Taylor, proposal to the House of Assembly 10 September 1874
Parliamentary Papers, Archives Office Tasmania

1884, September: Insurance
3137 Mutual Union Insurance Company Certificate for the Steamer “Kangaroo” Valued at 2500 pounds
Item Number: TRE1/1/1355
Start Date: 18 Sep 1884 End Date: 18 Sep 1884
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
Treasury Department (TA91) 01 Jan 1824 – 17 Jul 1989
Series: General Correspondence (2) (TRE1)

1896, July: police gazette notice
A student fishing from his boat near Rosny was drowned when hit by the Kangaroo on 16 July, 1896. Captain James Staines Taylor was charged with manslaughter.

Inquest into death by drowning, Cpt Taylor committed for trial
Tasmanian Police Gazette, 31 July 1896, p122.


NEW TOWN AND QUEENBOROUGH DISTRICT. – Inquest was held at the General Hospital, Hobart, on the 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th instant before A. Riddoch, Esq., Coroner, on the body of Arthur Ashala Lambert, aged 24 years, a student. Verdict: – “Drowned in the River Derwent by a boat he was in being run down by the ferry-steamer Kangaroo, and that there was negligence on the part of the person in charge of the steamer.”
James Staines Taylor, the master of the Kangaroo, was then committed for trial on a charge of manslaughter.

1896, July: the Coronial Inquest: records

Lambert, Arthur Ashala
Record Type: Inquests
Age: 24
Date of death: 16 Jul 1896
Verdict: Drowned in the River Derwent after his boat was run down by the ferry- steamer Kangaroo
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1353973
Archives Office Tasmania

This last page of four pages produced from the inquest into Arthur Ashala Lambert’s death was sent by the coroner A. Riddoch to the Registrar of the Hobart Supreme Court on 28th July 1896 to report that “… James Ikin, a juryman duly sworn to enquire into the cause of death of the said deceased refused to sign the Inquisition as he did not agree with the verdict returned by his fellow jurymen.”

1896, July: alleged manslaughter in death of Arthur Lambert



Mr. A. Riddoch, City Coroner, concluded the inquest yesterday at the General Hospital on the body of Arthur Ashala Lambert, who was drowned off Rosny on the 16th inst., by a boat in which he was fishing coming into collision with the ferry steamer Kangaroo on its way from Hobart to Bellerive.

Mr. M. W. Simmons (Messrs. Simmons, Crisp & Simmons) appeared to watch the proceedings on behalf of Mr. James Taylor, master of the Kangaroo; and Mr. W. A. Finlay (Messrs. Finlay & Watchorn) on the part of the relatives of the deceased.

Superintendent Hedberg was present on behalf of the police ; and Captain Riddle, Harbourmaster, on the part of the Marine Board.

The following jury had been empanelled -Messrs. H. K. Fysh (foreman), J. Cooper, F. Briant, P. Gleeson, S. W. Risby, C. W. Walch, and J. Ikin.

Donald MacMillan, Lloyd’s surveyor at Hobart and shipwright’s surveyor for the Hobart Marine Board, deposed that he examined the Kangaroo on June 17 last, and found everything in order. The boat she carried was in the same position on the davits as it had been for five years past. The equipments of the boat were complete, and ready for launching. The paddles were good and sufficient, and it was his impression that they were new. The plug was out, but in a handy position. He examined the steamer only once a year, and did not know what state the steamer and boat were in on July 16. He did not test the tackle, but it appeared to be sufficiently strong. It was no part of his duty to report on the number of hands carried by the steamer. The arrangements for steering the Kangaroo were sufficient, but the helmsman could not see ahead. If the boat were steered by a wheel on the deckhouse the steersman would have a better view of the river before him.

The steamer, some years ago, used to be so steered, but he could not state when the present system was adopted. The question of putting bars across the two hulls of the steamer, to prevent a boat going under, had never arisen. He did not think there would be any suction 6ft from the stem, nor right up to the stem, which would draw a boat into the wheel.

Thomas Herbert, living in Macquarie street, deposed that he was on board the Kangaroo on the occasion of the accident. He was in the engine-room, sitting between the deckhouse and the boiler, on the Rosny side. He was facing the starting bar. He went into the engine-room about three minutes after the steamer left the Hobart wharf. The engineer was then standing about 4ft. from the starting bar, between the witness and the bar. He heard an order given to stop, and the engineer was then 3ft. from the starting bar. All the time the engineer was close to the bar.

To Superintendent Hedberg: When the order to stop was given the engineer went outside. He did not go out before. He stopped the engine before he went out. When he first went into the engine-room G. H. and J. Roberts were there, but he could not see them afterwards from where he was if they remained where he saw them. Witness left before young Taylor, the engineer. The beam of the engine might have been moving a little before he left. He heard no crash before or after the order to stop. When the order was given, the engineer was about 3 ft. from him. When he left the engine-room he saw the boat and the two men astern of the steamer. One of the men was 50 or 60, and the other 20 or 30 yards away. From two to three minutes elapsed from the time he heard the order to stop till he saw the men from the stern of the steamer.

To Mr. Finlay: When he left the engine room he knew that something wrong had happened. The engineer was in the engine house with his hand on the bar when witness left. Witness was a cousin of the steers-man. Captain Taylor sent for him on the previous day, and said he wanted him to be present that day at 2 o’clock. His father and the steersman had been speaking about the accident in his presence. He went over to Bellerive on the Kangaroo on Thursday last. Young Taylor was on board, but they did not speak. He told Mr. Simmons what evidence he was going to give. Mr. Simmons was on board the steamer with him on Thursday last, and he showed him where he stood in the engine-house. Witness was the last person, apart from the engineer, to leave the engine-room. He could not say who gave the order to stop. He left the engine-house on the Bellerive side, and the
Roberts’ [word missing ?] might have been in the room up to the time of the accident without his seeing them.

Henry Smart, licensed waterman, living at Hobart, stated that he had had 17 years experience of boats. On the previous day he measured 200yds. from the Rosny jetty by fastening a moored line to the jetty and running it out, bearing towards the Bellerive shore, and a little towards Hobart. When the 12.30 Kangaroo boat approached he was anchored at the 200yds. end of the line. There were 8 fathoms of water where the boat was moored. That (Friday) morning he measured a distance of 150yds. from the jetty, rather more towards Hobart, at an angle of 40yds. from where he lay on the previous day. The depth was 7½ fathoms. At 100yds. the depth was 4½, fathoms. A kellick line of 4½ fathoms would not hold a boat there. There was a slight current 200yds. out. He had frequently noticed the current, which was sometimes stronger than on Thursday. A light north-west breeze was blowing, which would increase the current. If a boat were drifting towards the Bellerive Bluff the further it got out the quicker it would drift. If the Kangaroo struck a boat more aft than forward it would throw the boat outside of the steamer. If the steamer at half speed struck the boat broad-side on the gunwale must have been broken in.

To Superintendent Hedberg: Captain Taylor spoke to him and a man named Robertson while Herbert was being examined.

Mr. Simmons : I sent him for the witness. Superintendent Hedberg : He had no right to speak to a witness about to be examined.

To Mr. Finlay : From the damage done to the boat, he should say that the steamer struck it astern. If the port stem of the steamer struck the stern quarter of the boat, it would swing round on the port side of the steamer. If it was struck forward by the port bow, it would go underneath the steamer stern first. He saw the red marks on the gunwale. The wheel of the steamer in motion, or the pressure of the water when the boat was going under the steamer, might have forced the stern out, particularly if it was caught in anything. On Thursday, while he was in his boat, 200yds. from Rosny, the Kangaroo passed between him and the Bellerive shore. At 200 yds, there would be room far the Kangaroo to pass between the boat and Rosny.

Alfred B. Robinson, master mariner, residing at Hobart, but at present not following his profession, said ha had had I6 or 17 years’ experience at sea. He had passed over to Bellerive a considerable number of times in the Kangaroo in light north-westerly weather, and noticed its course. He went over in the half-past 12 steamer on Thursday last. The breeze was a light north-westerly one. The course taken prior to reaching Smart’s boat was the same taken on previous occasions when he was on board. He saw Smart’s boat in the water. As they approached it they put the helm astarboard and came alongside. If the helm had not been starboarded they would have passed the boat 30 or 40 yards nearer Bellerive shore. He had frequently fished there, within a period of 15 or 20 years, and had noticed a current, which set from 120yds. to 150yds. from Rosny shore, in a south-easterly direction, which was stronger after rain, and would be assisted by a light north-westerly breeze. If a boat were apparently drifting into the steamer’s course on entering Kangaroo Bay, he would have ported the helm.

The Coroner said that none of the evidence given that day was material to the issue. Captain Taylor was not being tried, or sued for damages in a civil action. The object of the present inquiry was to discover the cause of Mr. Lambert’s death.

Witness proceeded : It was 5 min. or 6 min. after the engines were stopped on Thursday before the surging in the water ceased.

To Superintendent Hedberg :- Captain Taylor spoke to him on the other side of the street a while before, but did not mention the case.

To Mr. Finlay : The rule of the road for a steamer approaching a boat at anchor or moving was to keep out of the way. He was told on Thursday that the Kangaroo was steering the same course that she steered on the day of the accident. If Captain Taylor stated that the accident took place 400yds. or 500yds, from Rosny shore, he would certainly have gone out of his usual course. If the steersman said that the collision took place from 350yds, to 400yds. from Rosny shore, witness would still say that the Kangaroo must have departed from its ordinary course. If, on his entering the bay, the boat appeared to be drifting, at nearly three miles an hour, towards Bellerive shore, Captain Taylor should have starboarded the helm. Having regard to the evidence given by Captain Taylor and Herbert, as to where the collision occurred, and to Herbert’s evidence, that if the steamer’s course had not been altered it would have passed 100 yds. nearer Rosny shore than the scene of the collision, the porting of the helm was the direct cause of the accident.

To Mr Simmons : If the boat were in mid-bay, apparently anchored, and he was approaching in the Kangaroo, he would have ported the helm.

To Mr. Finlay : Two hundred or 250 yds. from Rosny jetty would be midway across the bay.

To the jury: Considering the distance across the bay, it would not be necessary to go leeward of a boat in mid bay when a north west breeze was blowing.

James Riddle, Harbourmaster of Hobart, called at the instance of the jury, stated that the Kangaroo was manned according to the Regulations of the Port of Hobart. There was a regulation regarding a look out. One man on board must be looking out ahead while the steamer was under way. Captain Taylor told him that there were three hands on board altogether. He did not think that was sufficient for safety. The Marine Board had no power to interfere with the number of hands carried. A certificated master and a certificated engineer were all that the Marine Board could compel a steamer to carry. He knows how the Kangaroo was steered-by a tiller at the stern. The steersman might keep a sort of look out, but he could not see ahead to keep clear of a boat that he might come into collision with. If the shipwright’s surveyor recommended to the Marine Board an alteration in the mode of steering it might be adopted. It would be a great improvement if the steamer could be steered forward, so that the steersman might see where he was going. The Kangaroo had a double hull, and between them there was an open space where the paddle wheel worked. That space was not in any way protected, so as to prevent boats from getting in. It would tend greatly to the safety of the public if this space were protected. Some years ago it was so protected. Had it been protected on the 16th it would have prevented the boat going under the paddle. It was the duty of the shipwright’s survey or to see to the hull and equipment of steamers and if he made a recommendation to the Marine Board that the space between the hulls of the Kangaroo should be protected the suggestion would probably be adopted. The rule of the road was that a steamer should keep out of the way of a boat.

To Mr Simmons: Captain Taylor had always had his certificate from the Marine Board. If any alterations were required, he would have to make them before he got his certificate.

To Mr Finlay: The steersman should not leave the helm while the steamer was in motion, and the engineer should always be at his post when the steamer was under way or likely to start. The only other person left to lookout would be Captain Taylor, who could not collect fares and watch several vessels, particularly if there were a number of vehicles on board. If he went aft to collect fares he could not look after one vessel in the river. The Marine Board, as far as he knew, had never complained to Captain Taylor that he had too few men on board. If the engineer was at the engine, and the steersman at the tiller, only the captain would be left to lower the boat, unless the steamer was stopped. The vessels position could be altered quicker by the tiller than by the wheel on the deck house.

Captain Taylor, re-called by Mr Simmons stated that since he had given his evidence he had seen the chart, and he now said that the scene of the collision was about 300 yds from Rosny shore. On the trip in which the accident occurred he was keeping a constant look out. The boat and its equipment were, on that day in the same state as when Mr McMillan examined them on June 17. It was from 15 to 20 years since he steered from the deck house. That mode of steering was abandoned because it did not answer. If the vessel was loaded he kept a look out from the deck house and there was a hatchway communicating with the engineer. There had never been any frame work from hull to hull of the steamer. What Captain Riddle spoke of was to support the rudder.

To Superintendent Hedberg: He did not think that for the past 30 years he had more than three hands on board. When the jury went to see them steamer’s boat on Tuesday, witness went down to it beforehand to throw some dirt out of it. He thought his son cut the strops binding the davits to the stanchion of the deck awning. It was put on again at the request of Mr Finlay. He had a similar accident in December, 1866, when two men and a woman were drowned, but, at the inquest, the jury exonerated him. There was another accident l8 months ago to a man named Seymour, who admitted he was wrong. He did not put the paddles in the boat after they got to Bellerive.

To Mr Finlay: He told the police when they were dragging for the body of Lambert, that the accident took place from 200 yds to 300 yds from the shore , and on Monday last he told the coroner that it was from 400 yds to 500 yds. He thought now that 800 yds was correct. He thought the scene of the accident was mid-bay. His son was engineer when the steamer was last officially examined.

This closed the evidence.

The Coroner then summed up. He complimented the jury on the patient and careful way in which they had heard the evidence, and said that the case was a very important one, demanding anxious consideration. There could be no doubt that the deceased lost his life by his boat coming in contact with the steamer. That being so, they might view the occurrence in two ways – as murder or manslaughter. None of them supposed that Captain Taylor deliberately ran down the boat, and killed Lambert ; so they might dismiss from their minds the question of murder. But, if Captain Taylor neglected his duty in any way, and ran down the boat, he was responsible for Lambert’s death, and was liable to a charge of manslaughter. The Coroner read the legal definitions of manslaughter and of death by misadventure. The distance of the boat from the shore, the depth of water, and whether the boat was anchored or drifting, was not material to the issue. The rule of the road was that a steamer must keep out of the way of a boat. It would be a question for the jury whether a proper look-out was kept, and also whether the boat and appliances were in proper order to save life. They would also have to consider whether the yawning space between the hulls of the steamer should have been left unprotected. It seemed likely that the deceased received an injury about the time he went under the steamer. Throsby was unable to say whether the paddles were revolving when the boat went under, but he said he felt a pressure upon his back, which would seem to indicate that they were in motion. Somebody seemed to be blameable for allowing a great lumbering vessel like the Kangaroo to be traversing the harbour under circumstances which allowed the occurrence of such a disaster as that which happened to the young man Lambert to be possible.

The jury at 5.15 retired to consider their verdict.

After three-quarters of an hour’s deliberation, the jury (Mr. Ikin dissenting) brought in the following verdict :-” That on July 16, 1896, the deceased, Arthur Ashala Lambert, was drowned in the River Derwent, in Kangaroo Bay, in the colony of Tasmania, whilst at anchor in a ferry-boat in the said bay ; and we further say that the said ferry-boat was run into by the steamer Kangaroo, which was in charge of James Staines Taylor, and that the accident could have been avoided if sufficient care had been taken by the said James Staines Taylor, who was in command of the said steamer at the time the accident happened.”

The jury added the following riders to their verdict :-” The jury wish to add a rider to the effect that they wish to draw the attention of the Marine Board that the P.S. Kangaroo does not carry sufficient hands.” Secondly, that some protection should be placed at each end of the said steamer, between the main deck and water.”

The seven jurors signed the riders.

Captain Taylor was then committed for trial on the Coroner’s warrant, bail being accepted, himself in £50, and two sureties in £25 each. Messrs. M. W. Simmons and H. K. Fysh became sureties for Captain Taylor.

Mr. W. J. Wigley, of Abbotsford, near Melbourne, brother-in-law of the deceased, expressed the thanks of Mr. Lambert’s relatives to the Coroner, jury, police, and Mr. Finlay, for the anxious and careful investigation which had taken place.

The jury applied to the Coroner for their expenses during the five days they had been engaged upon the inquest, and Mr. Riddoch promised to recommend the application to the Chief Secretary.

Source: Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Saturday 25 July 1896, page 2

Frontal side view of the Paddle Steamer Kangaroo on Domain slips
Item Number: PH30/1/9406
Rear view of the Paddle Steamer Kangaroo on Domain slips
Item Number: PH30/1/9405
Start Date: 01 Jan 1920
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

1896, August: unlicensed engineer on the “Kangaroo”
The allegation of manslaughter involving Captain James Staines Taylor’s operation of the Kangaroo causing death was still sub judice when the Marine Board became aware he had failed to notify the Board that his son, William Taylor (1860-1939), newly installed as engineer on the Kangaroo, was operating the steamer without a Certificate of Competency. As owner, and defendant, his father was found guilty and fined the minimum penalty of £25 and costs. This is the transcript of the case as published by the Tasmanian News, Thursday 20 August 1896, page 2:



James Staines Taylor, master and owner of the ferry steamer Kangaroo, trading between Hobart and Bellerive, was proceeded against at the City Police Court this morning by Captain James Riddle. Harbor Master of the port of Hobart, with having failed to notify the Marine Board of Hobart the appointment of a fresh engineer as provided for in the Marine Boards Act of Tasmania. Mr Allport (Messrs Roberts and Allport ) appeared for the complainant, and Mr W.W. Simmons (Messrs Simmons, Crisp and Simmons), for the defendant), who pleaded guilty.

Mr Allport said it was not the intention of the Marine Board to press for a heavy penalty, the object being to show masters of vessels that the law would be upheld. On certain proceedings that had been held recently it had been divulged that William S. Taylor was the engineer on board the Kangaroo and the Harbor Master on looking up the records found that no such notice of his appointment had been made. Mr Simmons said the section of the Act under which the offence was laid was a new one and only recently come into force. He asked that a nominal penalty might be inflicted.

The Bench were of the opinion that the merits the case would be met by a small fine as they apprehended the object of the Marine Board was to show that such a section was in force and would be upheld. They would fine the defendant 5s and costs 6s, with 21s professional costs.

William S. Taylor was then called upon to show why he should not be mulcted [i.e. fined] in a penalty of not more than £100, and not less than £25 for being the engineer on board the Kangaroo without having a certificate of competency or service. The same counsel were engaged, and he pleaded not guilty.

Captain James Riddle, Harbor-Master of the port of Hobart, deposed to knowing the steamer Kangaroo and the defendant. He was present at the enquiry held by Mr Coroner Riddoch, when the defendant admitted being engineer of the Kangaroo.

John Clark, Chief Inspector of Machinery, said the Kangaroo was nominally known as a 60 horse-power steamer. He last inspected the vessel on the 16th June last, and a man named Cohen was engineer then. There were two classes of engineers — the first to 30 nominal horse-power and second to 14 horse-power non condensing. He had seen a certificate held by defendant which entitled him to drive an engine of 14 horse power non condensing. The defendant had not been granted a certificate under the Merchants’ Ships Officers Examination Act, nor a Marine Board’s certificate had been produced by the defendant.

By Mr Simmons: Since the recision of section 6 of part of bye law No. 7 no regulation had been made under which an engineer can be examined under the Marine Board Act.

By Mr Allport: But there was nothing to prevent an engineer being examined under the Merchants’ Shipping Act.

By the Bench: Under the present regulations was the duty of the defendant to hold a certificate of competency under the Merchant Shipping Act, authorise him to take charge of the engines of the Kangaroo.

Mr Simmons, on behalf of the defendant, said he had to ask that the case should be dismissed. There were no regulations of the Marine Board under which the defendant could apply, and the section of the Act under which Taylor was charged provided that the Marine Board should first do something, but up to the present that something had not been done.

The Bench: Then your contention is that the Marine Board, by repealing section 6 of part 7 and not substituting any in its place should show any man who had never seen a ship to go and take charge of engine?

Mr Simmons: Yes I could go down and take charge under existing regulations.

Mr Allport contended that was reducing the argument to an absurdity. Taylor should have applied for permission to be examined, but had not done so.

The Bench: It appears to us that there being no [illegible ?] regulations under which a man in defendant’s position could apply for a certificate his remedy was to apply for a mandamus [i.e. a judicial writ] compelling the Marine Board to frame such a regulation.

After a retirement of a few minutes the Bench returned and said they found the defendant guilty and fined him the minimum penalty of £25 and costs.

Mr Simmons asked that proceedings might be stayed for 10 days to allow of him appealing to the Supreme Court as to the reading that section of the Act.

Source: Tasmanian News (Hobart, Tas. : 1883 – 1911), Thursday 20 August 1896, page 2

Athol Eaton Morrison No. 147
Item Number: MB2/31/1/136
Marine Board of Hobart (TA71)

This qualification, a Certificate of Competency achieved by Athol Eaton Morrison in 1896, is the document which William Taylor did not possess while in charge of the engines of the Kangaroo.

1896, October: alleged manslaughter – the verdict
James Staines Taylor was declared not guilty.


SECOND COURT, . . Before His Honor Mr. Justice DODDS.


The trial of James Staines Taylor, master of the steam ferry Kangaroo, running between Hobart and Bellerive, for the alleged manslaughter of Arthur A. Lambert, by running down a boat in which the deceased was fishing in Kangaroo Bay, River Derwent on July 16 last, was continued at the sitting of the Court.

The Solicitor General (the Hon. A. Dobson) appealed for the Crown to prosecute, and Mr. M. W Simmons (Simmons, Crisp and Simmons) and Mr. W. W. Perkins (Perkins and Dean) for the defence.

The case for the Crown was continued,

Superintendent Hedberg stated that he inspected the boat immediately after the accident, and found three or four marks on each gunwale, which seemed to have been made by the paddle of the steamer. They had been partially rubbed off since the accident.

This closed the case for the Crown.

Mr. Simmons then opened the defence to the jury. He said that in order to convict the defendant the jury must be satisfied that he was guilty of absolute negligence, as distinguished from an error of judgement. The case for the defence was, that the boat was 200 yards from the Rosny shore when the collision took place, and that, at that distance, it could not have anchored, with a line 4 1/2 fathoms in the water, which was the length of the deceased’s kellick line, let down at the time of the occurrence. That the boat changed its position as the steamer approached it, the tide running out at the time, and that there was also a current running in an easterly direction, within 200yds. from Rosny, ran 1½miles an hour ; and, in addition, a slight north westerly breeze was blowing. That the defendant endeavoured to clear the boat, and if he failed through an error of judgment, that was not sufficient to warrant the jury convicting him. That the defendant believed that the boat was at anchor, and was not guilty of any, much less gross negligence. That the steam must have been shut off when the collision took place, otherwise more damage must have been done to the boat, and that it was clear the defendant took proper steps to prevent the accident, but without success.

His Honor said that three degrees of negligence were mentioned in the text books and reported cases, but it was difficult to draw any distinction whatever. “Gross negligence” was said to be “negligence with an epithet.”

Evidence was then called for the defence. Edward Wheeler, labourer, examined by Mr. Perkins, deposed that he picked up the injured boat about six minutes after the accident, 50yds. from the Kangaroo, and more to Bellerive, towards which shore it was moving. The kellick line was down, but not touching the bottom : 4½ fathoms of it, was in true water. The boat was 300yds. from the Rosny shore. There was always a current 200yds. out from there.

Cross-examined by the Solicitor-General : He saw marks on the boat which he regarded as having been made by the paddle wheel.

To Mr. Perkins : If the wheel had been in motion when the collision occurred, the boat must have been smashed.

Alfred B. Robinson, master, mariner, of 18 years experience stated he had made soundings in Rosny Bay, marked on a chart produced. At 100 yrds. the depth was 4 ½ fathoms: at 150yds., 7 fathoms; at 200yds., 8 fathoms and at 200yds., 9 fathoms. He had fished in Kangaroo Bay, and always felt a knot current 100yds to 150yds. from Rosny jetty ; inside of 100yds. It was not felt much. If the Kangaroo was steaming at the time of the collision, and struck the boat amidships, the boat must have been stove in.

To the Solicitor-General : He did not think the damage to the boat could have been done by a single blow from the paddle. He believed the steamer had nearly stopped when the accident occurred.

To Mr. Simmons : If a boat were drifting with a current it would be hard to observe it, one’s own bearings would so alter.

To His Honor: He could not say, from looking at the boat, whether the tuck was stove in or torn away. The suction was an element that had to be considered in the collision.

This closed the evidence for the defence.

Mr. PERKINS addressed the jury on behalf of the accused. He contended that the death of the deceased, Lambert, was the result of accident. There were some matters which the jury ought at once to dismiss from their minds. In the first place, they ought not to consider whether the defendant should have put down his boat to rescue Lambert when the collision had taken place. The defendant thought that to put back the steamer was the quickest thing to do. Then, as to the stopping of the engine, he submitted that the question as to when it was stopped had nothing to do with the case as the jury had to consider it. The whole question was, what was Taylor doing to prevent the collision when it took place. He (counsel) contended that the accident was produced by the unconscious contributory negligence of the deceased, who misled the accused into, perhaps, committing an error of judgment. The evidence showed that the boat could not have been anchored, considering the depth of the water, length of the kellick line, and the weight of the stone attached to it. The boat was moving in wind and current when the accident occurred, but the deceased gave the defendant the impression that it was anchored, and so misled him. Counsel cited to the jury several reported cases, which he contended were analogous to this ; and applied the principles laid down in them to the present case, and contended, that unless they could say that the defendant had been guilty of gross negligence or recklessness of conduct, they could not convict him. The evidence negatived such an assumption, and the defendant was entitled to an acquittal.

The Solicitor General replied on the whole case on behalf of the Crown. He said that, even on the case for the defence, the defendant merely ported the helm of the steamer, and then did not see that his orders were obeyed, or keep a look-out, and did not know what was going on till he heard women’s screams at the time of the collision. If he had kept a constant look-out the accident ought to have been avoided. The marks of the paddle on the boat showed that the stoppage of the engine was almost simultaneous with the impact ; that the paddle was in motion but feebly, and was about to stop.

His Honor told the jury he did not intend to sum up on the facts of the case, but to direct them on the principles of law involved. He explained the difference between murder and manslaughter ; in the former there must be malice, in the latter there was an utter absence of it. In this case he thought the chief question they had to consider was this – whether the accused had been guilty of such negligence as, in their opinion, contributed to the death of the deceased ? The general instruction he gave them was: If they were of opinion there was negligence on the part of the accused to such an extent as to contribute to the accident, then the accused was guilty of the offence of manslaughter. He illustrated what negligence was, under given circumstances, and told them they must dismiss from their minds the subject of contributory negligence on the part of the deceased, which did not arise here, though it might in a Civil action. The foundation of the prosecution was negligence of such a character as to make the accused liable. There was evidence which they might fairly consider on the point as to whether the boat was drifting; but the question did not essentially arise here. He thought it must be obvious that, if there had been a man stationed at the bow of the steamer, who had to do nothing else but keep a look- out, the only possibility of the accident occurring was the steamer’s getting so close to the boat as to make it impossible for it to alter its course. It seemed to him a case which must be thought out without a slavish adherence to the phraseology of the witnesses.

The jury at 1.10 p.m. retired to consider their verdict, having, some time previously, inspected the wrecked boat, when Constable Ward pointed out the marks which he attributed to the paddle of the steamer.

At 2.10 p m. the jury returned into court, when the foreman said they were agreed that the boat was drifting when the accident happened, and that the defendant committed an error of judgement.

His Honor said he could take that finding, but he would have to direct that a verdict of not guilty be entered. If the jury found that the accused committed only an error of judgment they ought to find him not guilty of manslaughter. If they found he had been guilty of negligence contributing to the death of the deceased, they ought to find him guilty of manslaughter.

The jury again retired, and in a few minutes returned a verdict of not guilty, which was received with applause from the body of the Court, that was, of course, at once suppressed.

His Honor, addressing Captain Taylor, said that, in discharging him, he would like to say it was to be extremely regretted that this accident took place. Probably, Taylor, himself, greatly regretted it, and the inconvenience and expense which he had suffered would be sufficient punishment, but he (the Judge) did stay this : Taylor was in a position of very great responsibility, he had in his hands the power to do a great deal of mischief, or avoid it, according as he exercised care or not ; and that being so, it behoved him to be especially careful in the way he managed such an unwieldy steamer as the Kangaroo. The jury had taken a lenient view of the case, and he hoped that their clemency, and Taylor’s own sad experience, would be a guarantee that he would exercise more care in the future.

Captain Taylor said he would give half of what he possessed to be able to restore Mr. Lambert to life. He thanked His Honor for his remarks, and the jury for their verdict.

Source: Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Thursday 1 October 1896, page 4

1910: death at Cawarra
Captain James Staines Taylor sold the Kangaroo to the O’May Bros in 1903. Henry O’May (1872-1962) skippered it. James Staines Taylor died at his home in New Town seven years later.TRANSCRIPT

TAYLOR.—Passed peacefully away on February 28, 1910, at his late residence, Cawarra, Risdon-road, New Town, James Staines Taylor (Master Mariner), dearly beloved husband of Rosina Taylor, and for many years Captain of twin-steamer Kangaroo. Funeral private. No flowers. (English and colonial papers please copy.)

Source: Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Tuesday 1 March 1910, page 1

‘Cawarra’, 52 Risdon Rd, New Town, Hobart, Tasmania
Designed by William Porden Kay, c.1840.
Home of Captain James Staines Taylor 1910
Permanently registered on Heritage List. id no. 2733
Photo copyright ⓒ KLW NFC Imprint 2012

Given the exceptional length of service (70 years), it is no surpise that many photographs were taken of the Kangaroo in its various stages of modification. These photographs are from issues of the Illustrated Tasmanian Mail:

The Kangaroo on the Domain slip, Captain Harry O’May in front
Illustrated Tasmanian Mail, 10 November 1910, p.24. W. J. Little, photo.

School children’s picnic at Bellerive. On board the Kangaroo (top left and right)
Illustrated Tasmanian Mail, 3 May 1923, pp 42-43. D.I.C. Photographs

The vehicular steam ferry Kangaroo, built by Elizabeth Rachel Nevin’s uncle Captain Edward Goldsmith in 1854-1855, was sold to Askin Morrison in 1857, then to James Staines Taylor in 1864 who operated it for the next 40 years. It was still in operation well into the first decades of the 20th century. Bought by the O’May Bros in 1903, its service was terminated in 1925 and replaced by the Lurgerena in 1926.

Maritime Museum of Tasmania
SS Lurgurena, underway River Derwent Tasmania, vehicular ferry
built by J Crichton and Company Ltd Saltney England for the Tasmanian Government in 1925,
sold to the New South Wales Government in 1945, ran aground and wrecked off Trial Bay New South Wales in 1972.
Object number P_Sle_15_43

2014: Not a mention at the Maritime Museum of Tasmania
The Maritime Museum of Tasmania has a small exhibit of photographs taken of the vehicular ferry Kangaroo and an introductory panel of its history from its launch in 1855 to its disposal in 1928. All credit is given to Sir William Denison but no mention of Captain Edward Goldsmith who carried the responsibility for its construction and launch, and at considerable cost to himself.

Below: Maritime Museum of Tasmania display boards featuring the vehicular ferry Kangaroo (photos taken in March 2014)


technical successcommercial failure
After many years of agitation for a steam vehicular ferry service, Governor Sir William Denison (a formal Royal Engineer) designed a double-ended, twin-hulled ferry for the Kangaroo Point-Hobart service. Kangaroo, fitted with a two-cylinder steam engine made by Seaward and Capel of London, was launched in 1855.

A technical success, the Kangaroo was a commercial failure, perhaps because she was so slow and awkward. Costing 18,000 pounds to build, she was sold to merchant Askin Morrison for 1,800 pounds in 1857. Resold in 1864 to Captain James ‘Top Hat’ Taylor, owner-master for the next 40 years, he supplemented the ferry service with towage and other operations to make her pay.

In 1903,Kangaroo was sold to the O’May Bros who made a number of improvements. Because of the poor tiller arrangement, the helmsman could not see and commands were shouted from a lookout. The O’Mays solved this by installing a wheel at either end under the top deckhouse.

Kangaroo remained in service until 1925 when the new Government-owned vehicular ferry Lurgerena (‘to follow the Kangaroo‘) was delivered from England.

Kangaroo was dismantled at Bellerive and the machinery sold for scrap. She sank at her moorings in 1928 and was later blown up with explosives.

Introductory and exhibition panels at the Maritime Museum of Tasmania for the vehicular ferry Kangaroo
Built in 1854 by Captain Edward Goldsmith at his slipyard, Queens Domain, Hobart
Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014

2014 – 2017: Publications
However, a book published in the same year, 2014, titled Ships of Hobart Harbour by Rex Cox and G.W. Cox (Mount Stuart, Tasmania: Ron Withington, 2014) clearly states on page 56:

The paddle steamer KANGAROO (189.1855), built at the Hobart Domain by Captain Goldsmith with design input from the Governor, Sir William Denison, maintained the Bellerive vehicular ferry service for 70 years.

Yet, in 2017, another large tome on a similar subject, this time titled River and coastal vessels trading out of Hobart, 1832-2015 by A. J. (Tony) Coen (Hobart, Tasmania : Forty South Publishing Pty Ltd., 2017) fails to mention Captain Edward Goldsmith at all in relation to the paddle steamer Kangaroo (1855). The name they put forward on page 27 is the shipwright Duncan McInnis [sic – McInnes]:

The most renowned and possibly infamous of all River Derwent local craft was built at the Domain Slipyard in 1885 by Duncan McInnis [sic] for the Van Diemen’s Land Colonial Government.

Mystifying, that Captain Goldsmith’s name should be ignored completely, since he was operating his slipyard at the “Paddock”, Queen’s Domain by 1849, according to the Director of Public Works, W. Porden Kay, and was universally acknowledged as the contractor in the press. More mystifying still, is that Duncan McInnes, shipwright, and his wife Sarah McColl gave their address as residents of the “Government Paddock” when she gave birth to a son on 9th June 1852 . There must have been a dwelling constructed on site for them by Captain Goldsmith which was included in his transfer of the lease, including the sale of all machinery, buildings and wharves, to Askin Morrison and Alexander McGregor in August 1855.

This attractive volume, to the author’s credit, at least devotes quite a lot of attention to the technical aspects of the vessel Kangaroo (2) if not to its contractor. Further, there is rarely mentioned information on the first paddle steamer on the Derwent, also called the P. S. Kangaroo (1) which was purchased from the NSW government in 1847. It serviced the developing region of the upper Derwent as agricultural industries grew, and was sold off in 1851, eventually transferring to Melbourne as a tug (Coen, pp 20-21).

The Kangaroo, p.27.
River and coastal vessels trading out of Hobart, 1832-2015 by A. J. (Tony) Coen
(Hobart, Tasmania : Forty South Publishing Pty Ltd., 2017)

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