Ink and water-colour technical drawing showing a longitudinal cross-sectional elevation of the fourth and final experimental paddlesteamer built under the direction of the Scottish engineer and inventor, William Symington, C.E.. The vessel depicted is the second of two steam-powered paddleboats designed by Symington for the Forth and Clyde Navigation Company at the instigation of Lord Dundas (Sir Thomas Dundas, 1741-1820), and was constructed between June 1800 and March 1803. It incorporates Symington's improved double-acting condensing horizontal steam engine design, patented in April 1801 (see Patent Deed at ST 017853).

The drawing shows the 22-inch (559 mm) bore x 4 feet (1219 mm) stroke horizontal double-acting cylinder of the engine mounted on a wooden frame amidship, with a condenser and air pump within a water well in the hold below. To the aft of the engine is a single paddlewheel mounted near the stern of the vessel in the centre of the hull. The engine crosshead is supported by a roller running on the engine frame and is connected by a bell crank to a plug rod operating the valve gear and air pump and by a connecting rod directly to a crank on the paddleshaft. Behind the engine a steam boiler and iron chimney can be partially seen. The general arrangement of the machinery and direct drive to the paddleshaft crank is similar to that depicted in a circa 1820s model of the Charlotte Dundas (ST 017851) also held by Museum Victoria, even though other historical documents suggest that the vessel originally had a set of reduction gears between the crank and paddleshaft.

The wooden hull of the second Charlotte Dundas, measuring 58 feet (17.7 m) long by 18 feet (5.5 m) beam, was built by John Hall, of Grangemouth, between July and September 1802. Castings and other metal components for the engine, boiler and rolled iron chimney were supplied by the Carron Ironworks situated on the banks of the Carron River near Falkirk, a few miles upstream of the port. Work on the engine commenced in March 1801, well before the construction of the hull. Symington had a well-established relationship with the Carron Company, using them as a source of components for many of his steam engines dating back to the 1780s.

The vessel had its public debut Tuesday 4th January 1803, when it steamed through the Forth and Clyde Canal to Glasgow where it took a sloop in tow from Stockingfield to Port Dundas, watched by 'a large concourse of people' along the banks and a party of official guests aboard, including Lord Dundas himself. After modifications, a further trial was made on Monday 28th March 1803, when the Charlotte Dundas towed two sloops against a strong headwind over 18½ miles (29.8 km) in 9 hours 15 minutes, travelling almost the entire length of the canal. The events are generally regarded as the world's first demonstration of a practical steam-powered tug boat, however, concerns about potential damage to banks of the canal caused by the wash of the paddlewheels and the expense of the experiments led to a decision to abandon further development. The vessel was laid up beside the banks of the canal near Falkirk, until 1808, when it converted to a dredger and later abandoned with the hull left to rot. Over the following decade the first commercial steam-powered passenger services were introduced in sheltered Scottish coastal waters, but it would be 25 years before further trials of steam tugs and steam passenger ferries were made on the canal in the late 1820s.

The drawing is believed to have been executed from memory by the inventor, around 1828, as an illustration to accompany the pamphlet 'A Brief History of Steam Navigation', which William Symington published in 1829, seeking to secure belated recognition for his role in pioneering steam-powered water transport. The original drawing was brought to Australia by the inventor's son, William Symington Jnr. (c.1802-1867), who emigrated to Victoria in 1855 and settled with his family at Bacchus Marsh. It was donated to Museum Victoria by a descendant of the Symington family.

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Physical Description

Unscaled coloured (black, grey, yellow, blue) technical line drawing with handwritten text underneath. The drawing shows a longitudinal cross-sectional elevation (side view) of a steam powered vessel, with a single stern-mounted paddlewheel and direct-coupled horiztonal steam engine. There is a steam boiler and chimney behind the engine. Both the engine and boiler are situated partially below and partially the boat deck.

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