Abermain Seaham Collieries Ltd

Began by James and Alexander Brown, brothers & owners of the Minmi Mine (Richmond Main and Pelaw Main) Newcastle New South Wales transhipping coal to Sydney
James, the more active within the partnership, took on the Australian Agricultural Society who enjoyed a monopoly on the coal distribution in a 'limited' mining for maximum sale price situation. After several attempts, James won thus, enabled greater allowable tonnage of coal to be mined and enabling the demand to be met, especially at a time when the California Gold Rushes and their need for coal for industry there saw Newcastle Australia as the nearest available source as well as having high quality coal in itself.
J & A Brown
Newcastle, New South Wales
James son John (Baron) Brown took over the management and expanded operations and personal interests, especially in thoroghbred horse racing
In 1930 the firm had an ocean-going collier, 5 coastal colliers, a schooner and 10 tugs, including the Rollicker, one of the most powerful in the world
John Brown died 1930. His brother Stephen, following John's death sold the firm's interest in tugboats to the Waratah Tug & Salvage Co., and from 1931 Stephen was a partner in and a director of J & A Brown & Abermain Seaham Collieries Ltd after its amalgamation 1931 became J & A Brown & Abermain Seaham Collieries
taken over by Coal and Allied Industries Limited 1960

Note: Not all vessels listed, more added as further information comes to light

Vessels listed in chronological order

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No images available
HUNTRESS 55.3 tons approx. Lbd: 89'1" x 16'2" x 7'6". Wooden steamship completed October 1853 by Newton & Malcolm, Manning River, NSW for J & A Brown, Newcastle. One deck, single mast cutter equiped with 2 cylinder steam engine of 60 nhp as built by G Russell & Co, Sydney. Some problem caused the vessel to be initially enrolled under the engine builder's name on behalf of J & A Brown. Design of vessel saw American style sponsons full length of ship enabling extensive saloon for passengers. Intended for service between Morpeth and Newcastle in passenger capacity and barge towing duties as practible. Saw very little work on the Hunter River, being diverted for excursionist work between Wiseman's Ferry and Windsor on the Hawkesbury River in 1855. 1856 re-measured as 86 gross tons 54 net, serviced the Cremorne ferry run and following year in June resumed on the Hawkesbury when owned by T S Rountree, shipbuilder and Dock owner, Sydney. Listed for sale, March 1860 owned by T W Fitzgerald. June 1860 owned by the Government of Hawkes Bay Province, New Zealand, registered Napier. She had endured a 21 day voyage to Wellington from Sydney, arriving with a view to converting her into a dredge. 1864 owned by Donald McLean. 1866 owned by G E Reid, registered at Auckland. Since arrival was converted (date unknown) into a lighter. 1867 owned by WIlliam Souter. 1868 re-measured at 75 gross tons when engine removed and converted into a 2 masted (fore & aft) schooner. 1871 owned by J S MacFarlane. 15 March 1872 wrecked at Cape Brett Bay of Islands
BUNGAREE 163 gross tons, 85 net. Lbd: 121'5" x 22'5" x 9'4". Iron Paddle steamer/Steam Tug, schooner rigged built by Barclay, Curle & Co., Glasgow. Designed as a tug for the Newcastle Australia trade, with side lever paddles and 150 horsepower (grasshopper) steam engine. Possibly used as limited capacity passenger vessel early upon her arrival. Sold March 1963 to R Napier (Minmi Colliery Co Ltd ). June 1964 sold to G R Dibbs. September 1864 sold to Alex Brown and sunk one year later, 5th October 1865 in the Hunter River after a collision with the vessel named 'City of Newcastle'. Whilst underwater, sold to the Newcastle Co-Operative Tug Co., salvaged and served in tugboat capacity until 1978 when sold to J & A Brown, Newcastle. Laid up at Hexham during the 1920's, converted into a lighter and serviced the area until sold to P Callen 1933. Demolished at Newcastle for scrap 1933-5
PIONEER 22 gross tons, 4 net. Lb: 41 x 11 6 feet. Wooden steamship built by 'unknown' at Newcastle NSW for Thomas Adam, Newcastle. Held no official number being unregistered at the onset of her vague career. Her size indicates at best - tugboat otherwise tender/lighter. Held a steam engine of 16 nautical horsepower. July 1864 owned by J & A Brown, registered Sydney but doesn't seem to have entered that port. No further details known
RAPID 96 gross tons, 61 net. Lbd: 86'3" x 16'7" x 9'1". ON32075. Wooden steamship built as the Derwent 1840 by D Hoy, Port Arthur Tasmania. Held a 40 horsepower steam engine as constructed at Napier Glasgow. Schooner rigged of two masts. S J Lindsay, Hobart probably first owner. It is known she plied the Port Arthur trade until 1859 when sent to Sydney for selling purpose. Thomas Hale of Bellambi recorded as owner from May 1859 with vessel registered Sydney. August 1860 owned by Charles Solomon, sent to Nelson New Zealand for selling purposes and she arriving there 24 September 1860. No buyer and she made one New Zealand coastal voyage whereupon 21 March 1861 departed for Sydney under ballast. March 1861 owned by S Clarke. May 1861 purchased by John B Bingle, Newcastle (Bingle & Co) and intended for their Newcastle Towing business. June 1865 owned by G R Dibbs. June 1865 owned by T A Dibbs. January 1867 co-owned by T A Dibbs & Stephen Foyle. At this juncture of ownership and in 1868 the Melbourner Tug Operators of James Deane & H Reid advertised the Rapid as 'their' tug operating in Newcastle, all this based upon good business connections with Stephen Foyle who was related to the Brown family. August 1874 co-owned by G R Dibbs (32%) and J & A Brown. May 1877 co-owned by James Brown (32%) with John Russell and George Pringle. At this point in time the ownership was in dispute between George Dibbs and J & A Brown who forcibly seized the vessel on or about 16th May 1877 and, had her towed to Minmi. September 1879 owned by John Brown. 1881 co-owned by James, Alexander & John Brown, registered Newcastle. Register on vessel closed 1883 as stating she was broken up however, another Rapid was built same year by the Callen Brothers, Stockton, NSW and is believed to be a refit of the original 'rapid'. Given a new ON (Official Number) as 83883, she was fitted with side lever steam engine of 40 horsepower. Lb almost identical being recorded as 92 x 16 x 9 feet. Rigged as a single masted sloop, she was owned by John & Alexander Brown. 10 year rebirth lifespan until April 1893 when engine removed and vessel broken up

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PHOEBE image (Looking very much like the Duckenfield & probably is) was courtesy State Library Queensland
GOOLWA 191 gross tons, 116 net. Lbd: 130' x 21'1" x 10'3". Iron hulled tug- paddle steamship built by Palmer Bros at Jarrow-on-Tyne England. Held 2 cylinder steam engine built by J Thompson & Co, Newcastle-On-Tyne. Also rigged as a 2 masted brig, (one mast later removed). ON 48675. Owner recorded as F Levi, registered London, may have been the South Australian connection of Levi's Wharf at Port Adelaide. May 1867 owned by J W Smith & T Hesselton, vessel registered Port Adelaide. August 1870 under sole ownership of T Hesselton, registered Sydney, having arrived 29 July from Adelaide. She was employed mainly as a tug but held certificate to carry 600 excursionists/ferry passengers. Found unsuitable and in January 1874 registered Newcastle NSW under ownership of H Finch & Others. January 1876 owned by Newcastle Co-Operative Steam Tug Co Ltd. June 1878 owned by John Brown of J & A Brown. June 1905 owned by J O'Connor, here it presumed she was demolished or stripped of her fittings. Circa 1919 sank at her moorings, raised and ran aground at a bank near Hexham where traces of her can still be found
LEO 95 gross tons, 21 net. Lbd: 88'3" x 16'9" x 8'9". Iron tug built 1871 by J Payne, Bristol England. Held side lever steam engine of 50 nhp as built by Wingate & Co, Glasgow. Reported at Cape Town South Africa January 1874. Recorded owner January 1876 as R B Wallace, Newcastle NSW. Same month and year recorded owner as Newcastle Co-Operative Steam Tug Co Ltd. June 1878 owned by J Brown of J & A Brown. Always employed in tug duties upon Australian waters with registry finally closed 1917
PHOEBE 585 gross tons, 391 net. (Later measured at 613 gross, 417 net). Lbd: 172'8" x 26' x 15'6". ON 14943 Iron hulled single screw Passenger Cargo steamship built (completed 11 September 1851) by Alexander Denny & Brother, Dumbarton, Glasgow. Yard No 17. Engine as Steam fired 2 cylinder jet-condensing supplied by Tulloch & Denny. Built for Preston & Co, Liverpool she serviced as the Liverpool-Dublin/Cork ferry. 1856 owned by P Brennan, Waterford. 1857 owned by Union Steamship Co, Southampton. 1861 owned by Zachariah Pearson, London. 1862 owned by Intercolonial Royal Mail Steam Packet Co Ltd, London. 1864 owned by Panama, New Zealand & Australia Royal Mail Steam Packet Co, London. 1869 owned by Thomas Henderson (Circular Saw Line), Auckland. 1869 owned by John Martin (New Zealand Steam Shipping Co), Wellington. 1876 taken over (along with John Martin's fleet) by Union Steamship Co of New Zealand Ltd 1878 owned by by J & A Brown, Newcastle NSW. 1901 Einerson & Jorgensen, Sydney and converted into a hulk. Scrapped at Sydney 1904
PRINCE ALFRED145 gross tons, 83 net. Lbd: 100'2" x 21'2" x 10'1". Iron hulled tug/steamship built by Simpson & Co, Poplar London for J Cawood, London. Held 2 cylinder oscillating engine - by builders. ON 45768. Sent to South Africa with a view to selling her. No takers and so 27 September 1864 departed Cape Town for Sydney, arriving 4th December 1864, under canvas as she was also schooner rigged with two masts. May 1865 owned by J Broomfield, Sydney & Charles Clark of Newcastle NSW whilst vessel registered at Sydney. September 1867 owned by Henry Rouse and Henry Finch, Newcastle NSW. October 1867 owned by Newcastle Co-Operative Steam Tug Co, Newcastle. June 1878 owned by J Brown. December 1881 owned by A & J Brown. 1917 registered closed as 'broken up'.

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TAMAR image (67522p) courtesy State Library Queensland, OCEAN image as the Gambier courtesy State Library Victoria
DUCKENFIELD (11) art image courtesy State Library Victoria, real photo image courtesyState Library New South Wales
TAMAR 88 gross tons, 130 net. Lb: 96'3" x 17'8". Wooden paddle steamer, built by James McMillan & John Wood, Greenock Glasgow in 1833 for D & J Bryan (loosely the Tamar Steam Nav Co, Australia), based in Launceston Tasmania. Carried passengers from Launceston to Twofold Bay, New South Wales until 1834 when sold to J T S Wilson & T Burdekin, Sydney. They placed her on the Hunter River trade only to find she was too deep for that service. 1835 J T S Wilson sole owner. 1836 lengthened to reduce draught by Russell at Pyrmont, Sydney becoming 200 gross tons & 130 net. Lb:124'0" x 16'. Stated a passenger capacity of 140 with cabin space for about 70. 1840 General Steam Navigation Co, Sydney, 1842 Hunter River S N Co. 1850 traded to Moreton Bay Queensland without success and placed upon the Clarence River service. 1851 Australasian S N Co. 1852 rebuilt by L Corcoran, Sydney. 1860 engaged by the Queensland Government mail contract, the first ever awarded, and steamed from Brisbane to Gladstone via Maryborough. 1861 J & A Brown, Sydney. At times (1862) placed on passenger runs from Sydney to Brisbane in opposition to Australasian S N Co but mostly employed as a tug. 1866 William Farthing, 1866 Stephen Foyle, Newcastle New South Wales. Wrecked Cabbage Tree Bay Norah Head, 11 January 1873 (sources - Clydebuilt Shipping, R Parsons & N L McKellar)
OCEAN 1,577 gross tons, 1,030 net. Lbd: 280'1" x 31'9" x 23'9". 2 masted schooner rigged iron steamship, compounded engine making 155 horsepower. Built as a passenger-cargo vessel under the name of Ocean by J & R Swan at Woodyard, Dumbarton, for Mories Monroe & Co Glasgow. Owned since by P Denny (pre 1874). 1874 Australasian S N Co., who intended her for potential Australia - China trade. Undetailed misfortune struck on her return from Hong Kong and she was towed to Cooktown Queensland. Court proceedings re: salvage caused Australasian S N Co to transfer ownership to a Mr Buckland, who was also involved in the 'Far-East" venture. September 1883 sold to J & A Brown of Newcastle and employed as a collier only. October 1884 acquired by William Howard Smith & Sons Ltd., who set about refitting her for increased passenger accomodation and general upgrading. February 1885 she was renamed Gambier and worked the Melbourne - Sydney - Newcastle (New South Wales) route. Sank after a collision with the steamer Easby off Pope's Eye Shoal, Port Phillip Heads Victoria on the night of August 7th 1891. A loss of 21 lives
DUCKENFIELD (1) 368 gross tons, 251 net. Lbd: 161' x 24' x 12'. (49.1 x 7.3 metres) Iron hulled single screw steamship, built John & William Dudgeon at Poplar, London May 1885 for A Brown, Newcastle, NSW. Held simple compound engine. Ran on to Long Reef, near Sydney Heads, then slid off and sank in deep water soon after being abandoned, 24th May 1889
DUCKENFIELD (11) 912 gross tons, 552 net. Lb: 220' x 31'. Twin screw steamship built by Fleming & Ferguson Paisley. Engines - 2 compound twin cylinder, 2 scr (surface condensing) of 170 nhp also constructed by builder. Launched: Tuesday, 8th April 1890, completed same year for J & A Brown, Newcastle New South Wales. 1931 J & A Brown & Abermain Seaham Collieries, Newcastle New South Wales. 1933 N E A Moller, Shanghai & renamed Ethel Moller. 1935 owned by Moller's Towages, Shanghai and converted to salvage vessel. 25 November 1942 deliberately scuttled in Hong Kong harbour. Captured - salvaged by Japanese government & renamed Gyoun Maru. 12th October 1944 sunk by US naval aircraft in the China Sea, SW of Taiwan

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CHAMPION image (gr001368) courtesy State Library Victoria, PELAW MAIN real photo postcard personal collection, art image (bs000918) courtesy State Library Victoria
CHAMPION 307 gross tons. 41.3 x 7.4 metres. Tugboat launched 4 November 1895 Completed December 1895 by J P Rennoldson, South Shields England. Single screw, triple expansion steam engine. Built for J & A Brown Newcastle NSW. 25 February 1954 foundered at anchor, Newcastle, NSW
COMMODORE 187 gross tons, 84 net. Lbd: 120'9" x 20'7" x 10'3". Iron Paddle steamer/Excursion vessel/Tug, schooner rigged 3 masts, twin funnels, abreast (later reduced to one) as built by J T Ettrickham, South Shields. Two side lever paddles, surface condensing engine of 95 horsepower. Engine also built by J P Rennoldson, South Shields. ON 74986. Arrived Sydney under sail after an 88 day voyage for owners Port Jackson Steam Boat Co Ltd, registered Sydney (T Hesselton founder). Employed mainly as a ferry. September 1881 owners Port Jackson Steam Ship Co, Ltd, registered Sydney. September 1898 owned by J & A Brown and employed mainly on towage services in Sydney and Newcastle. Late 1920's withdrawn from active service. Records state 'hulk' scuttled off Newcastle at 12.30 pm, September 8th, 1931. Reputedly the last active steam paddle tug working on Australian waters
PELAW MAIN 1,221 gross tons. 584 net. Lbd: 235.1 x 34.6 x 17 feet. (71.7 x 10.5 metres) Twin screw steamship built by Hall, Russell & Co Ltd., Aberdeen for J & A Brown & Abermain-Seaham Colleries Ltd. Rated 12 knots. Worked coal transport on the Parramatta River. Scapped at Hong Kong 2nd quarter of 1956

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Rollicker image (gr000523) courtesy State Library Victoria, Hexham image (r001129) courtesy State Library Victoria, St Giles 2nd image (gr000512) courtesy State Library Victoria
HEXHAM 2931 gross tons, 1885 net. Lb: 331.4 x 45.6 feet. (101 x 13.9 metres) Propulsion: steam, single screw, triple expansion, 3 cylinders making 287nhp. Launched: Tuesday, 31 January 1911. Cargo vessel built by Campbeltown Shipbuilding Co., Glasgow as the Amphion for J & P Hutchison, Glasgow. 1911 J Gaff & Co, Newcastle. 1913 J & A Brown, Newcastle New South Wales and renamed Hexham in 1914. This was their ocean going collier that exported coal to New Zealand and Singapore as well as various Pacific Islands. 1932 sold Moller & Co, Shanghai and renamed Hannah Moller. Status: Sunk by aircraft bombing at Benghazi while serving as petrol carrier - 15th December 1942
ROLLICKER 817 gross tons. Lb: 175'0" x 34'2". Tug-steamship built by Ferguson Shipbuilders Port Glasgow. Engines by Ferguson Bros, Port Glasgow. Propulsion: 2 x Triple expansion 3 cylinder engines of 231nhp 2400ihp 13.75 knots. 2x surface condensing. Twin funnels. Owner History: British Admiralty 1922 John Brown, Newcastle New South Wales. 1925 Government of Nigeria. 1933 British Admiralty. Scrapped - June 1952 broken up by Clayton & Davie at Blyth
ST GILESTugboat built by Ferguson Shipbuilders Port Glasgow, Yard No 244 for The Admiralty, London. Propulsion: Triple expansion 3 cylinder making 208nhp, rated 12.5 knots. Engines by Builders. Launched: Wednesday, 14/05/1919 completed 1919. 465 gross tons (later 380 gross). Lb: 135.4 x 29.0 feet. 1921 owned by The Shipping Controller (Alexandra Towing Co) England. 1922 owned by J & A Brown, Sydney NSW. 1931 owned by Waratah Tug & Salvage Co Ltd, Sydney NSW. 1956 owned by Manners Engineering Co Ltd, Hong Kong. Arrived Hong Kong in tow of mv Kini 9/1956. Broken up July 1957 by Shun Fung Ironworks Ltd at Hong Kong (Reports of renaming as Khalifa are erroneous)
MINMI 1455 gross tons. Lbd 250 x 37.1 x 15.3 feet. Steamship, collier built by D & W Henderson Ltd at Meadowside Glasgow 1927 for J & A Brown, Newcastle NSW. Triple expansion engine of 241 nhp. Main serice route was between Newcastle and Melbourne, carrying coal on the southward trip and returning empty. 1931 ownership as J & A Brown & Abermain Seaham Collieries, Newcastle NSW. Departed Melbourne 8th May 1937, northward bound. South of Sydney she encountered heavy seas, dense fog 13th May 1937 struck reef outside of Cape Banks, the outer northern headland of Botany Bay, and split in two. Although shore rescue parties made valiant attempts at rescuing crew 6 souls were lost

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STEPHEN BROWN image courtesy State Library New South Wales
WALLARAH 1,448 gross tons, 1,585 net. Lbd: 73.3 x 11.6 metres. Single screw steamship, triple expansion engine making 10 knots. Built as a cargo-collier by S P Austin & Son at Wear Dock, Sunderland for Wallarah Coal Co Ltd, Sydney. 1956 owned by J & A Brown & Abermain Seaham Collieries Ltd, Sydney. 1971 renamed Sorana Del Mar when owned by Emile Savoie of Noumea (France registry). 5th July 1974 capsized in tow 12nm off Cape Brett, New Zealand when bound Noumea-Auckland with cargo of scrap iron
STEPHEN BROWN 1,464 gross tons, 1800 net. Lb: 77.3 x 12.2 metres. Cargo vessel, collier built by Hall & Russell, Aberdeen for J & A Brown & Abermain Seaham Collieries Ltd, Sydney. Single screw, diesel powered. 1984 owned by Australian Maritime College. 1990 converted into a training ship. Current - 2010 moored permanently at Beauty Point, Tasmania where she has been renovated for use as a stationary training ship

Coal and Allied Industries Limited from 1960
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CONARA image courtesy of Mattmar Marine
CONARA 2,851 gross tons, 3450 dwt. Lb: 86 x 14.1 metres. Single screw, diesel engine making 14,5 knots, Purpose built by Ube Dockyard Co. Ltd, Ube, Japan for J & A Brown & Seaham Collieries. Placed on their '60 miler' run from Newcastle (Catherine Bay) to Sydney with a service speed of 12.5-14 knots. 1986 - 1988 of Coal and Allied Industries Limited and managed by Howard Smith Industries. 1988 sold to Austrian connections (managment - Ostereichischer Lloyd/Krohn Shipping ) renamed Innsbruck. 2002 renamed Sider Inn. Still in service
CAMIRA 2,792 gross tons, 3453 dwt. Lb: 86 x 14.1 metres. Single screw, diesel engine. 12.5 knots. Built at Ube Dockyards, Ube as a coastal cargo vessel with container carrying capability for Coal and Allied Industries Ltd. Managed by Howard Smith Industries Pty Ltd. 1993 sold to Labroy Marine Ltd, Singapore. 1994 converted into a livestock carrier, 3246 gt, 4186dwt. 1994 Renamed Kerry Express. Gained notoriety as 'Ship of Shame' sheep carrier when taking live stock from Fremantle to the Persian Gulf. 2004 under ownership name of Vroon. Still in service

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PATERSON 326 gross tons, 219 net. Lbd: 155' x 20'8" x 10'2". Iron Paddle steamer, 2 decks and schooner rigged built by Scott & Co., Greenock Glasgow for Hunter River New S N Co., Sydney. Engines - 2 cylinder oscillating of 60 horsepower as built by McNab & Clark, Greenock. Worked the Sydney - Hunter river trades as a passenger vessel until sold in July 1871 to William Summerbell & Others. Converted into a collier and managed by J & A Brown, Coal Mine owner & Shipowner, Newcastle. Sold November 1872 to A Kennedy who refitted her back into passenger status with tonnage increase to 410 gross and 260 net. Her Lbd became 156'8" x 23'2" x 10'7". Sold January 1874 to John Billings, registered Wellington New Zealand. July 13th 1874 wrecked at the Waitara River entrance, New Zealand
JERFALCON Sailing vessel schooner rigged iron hull. ON 62075 Launched Wednesday, 2nd December 1868 as built by Laurence Hill & Co, Port Glasgow, Yard No 64 for J M Crawford & Co, Greenock. 1872 owned by R Singlehurst & Co, Liverpool. 1875 owned by James V Bentley, Melbourne. Tonnage re-measured as 298 gross. 1885 owned by Grice Sumner & Co, Melbourne. 1903 owned by H McLennan, Melbourne and converted to coal hulk. 1908 Managed by J & A Brown, Melbourne. 1920 owned by Howard Smith Ltd, Melbourne. 1927 owned by The Victorian Lighterage Pty Ltd, Melbourne. 1957 scrapped by Gilbert's (Australasian) Agency (Victoria) Pty Ltd at Melbourne
Note: not strictly a steam powered vessel but listed here for historical posterity where a diversity of owners and their operations requires attention


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