This shipbuilder's model of the TSS 'Antleon' represents the first sand dredger to be constructed to deepen sea bars submerged by only 5 feet (1.5 metres). As the model shows, it is equipped with the latest improvements in boiler engines, pumps and steel shipbuilding, enabling the ship to carry up to 250 tonnes of sand on a rough bar and steam slowly over it. In fact, the 'Antleon' was the first Australian steamer to be fitted with Babcock & Wilcox boilers (the best known of watertube types first produced for marine vessels in 1889). Despite these improvements, however, the 'Antleon' is unique for its hand-fired coal burner, of which dredges appear to have been the last commercial vessels in Australia to use this antiquated form of fuelling system before the adoption of oil burning.
Sand dredging was done to either aid in the construction or deepening of existing canals, rivers or harbours. Over a period of more than 40 years in operation for the New South Wales Department of Public Works (1899 - 1960), the 'Antleon' dredged more than 14 rivers and regions in New South Wales including Bellinger, Byron Bay, Camden Haven, Clarence, Macleay, Manning, Moruya, Newcastle, Port Hacking, Port Macquarie, Richmond, Shoalhaven, Tweed and Wollongong.
Jobs in dredging were hard to come by. Most who worked with the New South Wales Public Works dredging plant were ex-merchant seamen. Jack Campbell was a Master of the Antleon for two months in the early 1960s in Wollongong. He recalls dredging out the port and being warned that the ship was very old and past its prime.
This particular model was constructed by William Simons & Co Ltd in Renfrew, Scotland and is representative of the type of specialist maritime machinery they were producing at the time. Models such as these were made for ship builder's, particularly to assist in their full-scale construction.
Campbell, J., "The New South Wales Public Works Dredge Service" in Australian Sea Heritage (No 41, Summer 1994) pp.10-15
Glasgow University Archives, http://www.archives.gla.ac.uk/collects/catalog/ugd/101-150/ugd114.html (Downloaded 28/3/07)
Maunsell, M., Chief Engineers' Division, New South Wales Public Works Department (Sydney)