Official Number
Yard Number: 239
Official Number: 54680
Launched November 1866

Described as one of the finest sailing ships ever built, not only one of the fastest but by far the largest ship to be composite built (of iron frames and teak planking). SOBRAON was a very popular passenger ship because of her speed and comfort.

Many crew stayed with the vessel for her entire seagoing career, 1866 to 1891, and her equally popular second Captain, J. A. Emslie, served on her for 24 years from 1867 to 1891. The crew consisted of captain, 4 officers, 8 apprentices, carpenter, sailmaker, boatswain, engineer, 2 boatswain's mates, 26 able-bodied seamen, 4 ordinary seamen, 2 boys, 16 stewards and 2 stewardesses - 69 crew in total.

Built for Shaw, Lowther, Maxton & Co. who also owned the famous tea clippers ARIEL and TITANIA she was in fact loaded as a Devitt & Moore ship and they eventually bought her in 1870. SOBRAON traded between London and Sydney (her route between 1866 - 1871) then later Melbourne (route from 1872 - 1891), carrying ninety first class and forty second class passengers, plus crew and sailing once a year leaving in September for the best of the weather.

Her fastest trip to Sydney was 73 days, to Melbourne in 68 days, always returning via the Cape of Good Hope instead of the Horn. She usually stopped at Cape Town on her return voyage and at St Helena, a break which was popular with passengers.

Her popularity as a passenger ship is proven by the clientele which chose to travel on her; Lord & Lady Belmore on their way to assume the Governorship of New South Wales and Mr Ducane, the Govenor of Tasmania all sailed on her. The Duke of Edinburgh had her made the flagship at the Sydney Regatta and was entertained onboard.

She was sold to the New South Wales Government in December 1891 as a reformatory ship and lay at anchor in Sydney harbour for the next twenty years. In 1911 she became a training ship for boys run by the federal government.

Commissioned as HMAS TINGIRA on 25th April 1912. Decommissioned 30th June 1927. Laid up at Kerosene Bay, Sydney and eventually broken up in 1941.

See Basil Lubbock's book 'The Colonial Clippers' for further details on this vessel's heyday.

Scrapped Sydney, 1936.

From article by George H. Johnston, 21/3/1936, Australian Newspapers Online:

"Alexander Hall's greatest creation was undoubtedly the Sobraon, of 2,131 tons, her house flag at the main truck floated nearly 200 feet above the water and under full sail she spread more than 2 acres of canvas. She was decked and planked with almost imperishable teak from forests of Burma. When it is recalled that Sobraon was originally designed as a steamer, it is curious to note than she became one of the fastest and most seaworthy of the clippers.

On each voyage 3 bullocks, 3 cows, 90 sheep, 50 pigs and 300 geese and fowls were carried to provide fresh food for passengers. Out of consideration for the passengers, Sobraon was never "pushed". Had Capt. Emslie decided to "crack on" canvas as the other wool clipper captains did, the records of the Cutty Sark, Thermopylae and Lightning would have fallen before the deeds of the Sobraon. She often ran 2,000 nautical miles in a week and speeds of 16 knots were not uncommon to her. Once she travelled equivalent of 392 land miles in a day. She was once off Cape Otway light when only 60 days out from London, but calms and head winds then spoilt what would have been the fastest voyage ever made by a sailing ship between England and Australia,

It is a testimony to her strength that she suffered little damage in her career. She encountered one severe storm when running her easting down in 1889, passengers were battened below for 3 days. Bulwarks, lifeboats, deck fittings, galley and a deckhouse were washed away. A terrific wave smashed the galley salloon skylight and tons of water poured below, washing the terrified passengers from their feet.

On 2 occasions Sobraon was almost put ashore in English Channel in heavy fogs. Twice she caught fire, but flames were quelled before any great damage was done. In her service from 1866 to 1891, only one person was lost overboard, and that was ascribed to suicide.

Now in Sydney Harbour, the shipbreakers' hammers are battering in her staunch old planks."

South Australian Advertiser, 23/03/1867:
Sydney, 22 March - 500 ladies and gentlemen attended ball last night on board ship SOBRAON, Captain Kylie. It was a splendid affair.

Sydney Empire, 17/12/1868:
Ship SOBRAON, from Plymouth to Sydney, passing Cape Otway, all well.

Sydney Morning Herald, 29/01/1869:
SOBRAON, Emslie, loading at Sydney for London.

Sydney Empire, 26/02/1869:
John Wilson, cook on board ship SOBRAON, charged with disorderly conduct aboard (fined 10 shillings or 2 days jail) and for absenting himself without leave (7 days jail).

Sydney Morning Herald, 09/02/1871:
Thomas Day, storeman aboard SOBRAON (lying at Circular Quay) was proceeding along tween decks when he stepped on plank which gave way under him and he fell 30 ft. into hold and onto keelson and died later same day in infirmary. He was well known in rowing circles in England and Australia and universally respected and esteemed.

Sydney Morning Herald, 03/01/1881:
SOBRAON arrived Melbourne 2 Jan. from London.

South Australian Register (Adelaide), 27/05/1882:
SOBRAON arrived London 25 May from Melbourne 6 Feb.

Sydney Evening News, 24/12/1884:
18 sheep, part of stores of ship SOBRAON, recently arrived, were discovered to be suffering from scab - all immediatley destroyed and skins, pens, etc. burned.

Adelaide Advertister, 10/07/1889:
SOBRAON arrived London 8 July from Capetown 27 April and Melbourne 3 March.

Melbourne Argus, 07/02/1890:
Able seaman Edmund Burke charged with stealing tobacco, brandy, claret, port, sherry, hams, sardines and condensed milk from stores and cargo of ship SOBRAON, lying at Port Melbourne.

Hobart Mercury, 04/06/1890:
Ship SOBRAON, which left Melbourne 16 Feb. and Capetown 8 April, calling also at St. Helena, arrived London today.

A. HALL & Co.
length between perpendiculars 272' x breadth 40' x depth 27'
gross tonnage 2131 tons

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