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TSS Earnslaw Celebrates 100th Birthday With Voyage Repeat

TSS Earnslaw Celebrates 100th Birthday With A Re-enactment of Maiden Passenger Voyage From Kingston to Queenstown

Descendants of shipwright, Jimmy Alcorn, who worked as a foreman builder constructing the TSS Earnslaw at Kingston in 1912, will be among those making a nostalgic journey during the heritage steamship’s centenary celebrations, when they sail on the re-enactment maiden passenger voyage from Kingston to Queenstown on October 18.
Real Journeys, who took over the operation of the vintage steamer from New Zealand Railways in December 1969, is planning a week of centenary celebrations from October 14 –22 highlighting the TSS Earnslaw’s significance as the oldest remaining passenger steamship in the Southern Hemisphere. The re-enactment voyage marks the Lady of the Lake’s official birthday, one hundred years to the day after she was commissioned and made her debut passenger excursion, from Kingston to Queenstown.
“We have put together an extensive programme which reflects the diverse roles the TSS Earnslaw has played during her century of service on Lake Wakatipu,” said Real Journeys Operations Manager, Tracey Maclaren. “As well as the re-enactment of the first sailing we will run a special high country station cruise (October 21) tracing the mail and freight routes taken by the steamer for almost 70 years. The cruise will stop over at Glenorchy where there will also be a special Glenorchy residents’ excursion which highlights the steamers’ part in the lives of Glenorchy people over the years.”
Frankton Arm cruises, including a seniors’ cruise, with music, entertainment and historians on board are planned. A woolshed party at Mount Nicholas Station on the far shores of Lake Wakatipu, a family fun day at Walter Peak and a TSS Earnslaw staff reunion are also expected to attract widespread interest.
“We hope that everyone who has an affinity with the TSS Earnslaw, both past and present, will join in the centenary celebrations, and dress in period costume to mark the occasion,” said Ms Maclaren. “The vintage steamship has been such an integral part of both Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown during her first 100 years and it is important that we celebrate that.”
Ms Maclaren said it is exciting that families such as those of Jimmy Alcorn recognise the significance of the event and are travelling from all over New Zealand to take part.
Family spokesman and grandson of Jimmy Alcorn, Jim Sands, said several of the direct descendants plan to be on board the TSS Earnslaw when she leaves Kingston for Queenstown on October 18.
“We have always been aware of my grandfather’s involvement with the construction of the TSS Earnslaw and it has been a strong link for our family. Jimmy came from Barrow in Furness from a long line of Clydeside shipbuilders and when he went to sea as a ship’s carpenter and ended up in New Zealand he decided to settle in Dunedin. He was employed by John McGregor & Son who built the Earnslaw and was sent to Kingston as a foreman builder. The family went with him and my mother, Bessie, who was just a few months old was the youngest person to go on the steamer after its launch in Lake Wakatipu on February 24 1912.”
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