William the Fourth
When the penal settlement first commenced at Newcastle in 1801, ships were the only form of transport. Within 30 years the growing coal trade - Australia’s first significant export industry, enabled the era of steam ships. In 1831 - when the Australian Agricultural Company began to have a profound impact on Newcastle, a shipyard was established at Clarencetown to construct Australia’s first steam powered ocean-going ship – William the Fourth. There were almost no roads, and the graveyard of shipwrecks at the harbour entrance is testimony to the many hazards our local pioneers faced. It’s hard for us to imagine the hardships they faced, but their enterprise and determination developed the characteristics that are still in our blood today.
By its very unique nature William the Fourth still serves as a faithful testimony to that tough maritime and industrial heritage.
The replica paddlewheel steamship William the Fourth was launched at Raymond Terrace on 26 September 1987 by Mrs Hazel Hawke. During construction hundreds of people purchased engraved copper nails – still in the ship’s hull, and since then thousands more have enjoyed the experience of the ship whilst learning of our maritime heritage.
Newcastle is improving and growing and we need to look to the future. Fort Scratchley will promote our convict, coal and military heritage. The Maritime Centre at Honeysuckle will provide a showcase of our special maritime heritage. The redeveloped Regional Museum at Honeysuckle has an exciting steelmaking heritage interpretation. Add to this FighterWorld, the Wetland Centre,
Botanical Gardens, the ‘old city’ around Watt St, and future coal and railway
interpretations. Soon we will have a package of attractions and a real reason for a tourism boom in the city. William the Fourth will be an important part of this, as it provides the ideal platform to showcase the beauty of the city from the harbour.
Community based organisation – William the Fourth Inc. has taken ownership from Newcastle City Council and will return the ship to its role as an icon of our maritime heritage. As part of a full refurbishment with commercial registration we will install a diesel engine with propeller to maximise availability and overcome the issues that steam propulsion presented (whilst retaining and simulating the steam experience). The ship will come back into service in first class condition.
The ship will have a prominent place in the Honeysuckle Maritime Precinct, (Development application is approved) complimenting and adding value to the Maritime Centre. It will be available to the public as a floating display, a venue for on-board refreshments and functions, and will undertake corporate and tourist charters. This will provide a regular income, ensuring its long-term viability.
To implement these plans we invite community minded organisations and individuals to renew their connection to William the Fourth, and to join us to raise the balance of funds needed to re-launch the ship.
More details are available by contacting us on 0419241731 or email
For more details contact:
William the Fourth Inc.
PO Box 2312
Last Updated Monday, August 13 2018 @ 10:52 PM|3,935 Hits