Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village
Photograph, Mrs. A. Dawson, February 1907 - June 1910
This black and white photograph in Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village’s collection is of the steamboat “Lady Loch” towing 5 rowing boats on the Hopkins River, Warrnambool. Both the “Lady Loch” and the rowing boats carry many passengers. The Lady Loch is travelling from the riverbank near Jubilee Park downriver towards Warrnambool and the river mouth.
Rowing on the Hopkins River was a very popular sport and recreational pastime in the late 19th and early 20th century. People would travel a long way to spend their weekends and holidays at Warrnambool.
The photograph was taken between February 1907 and June 1910. It was taken by Mrs. A. G. Dawson from the Hopkins River Bank at “Allandale”, which was leased to her. At the time of the photograph, the Lady Loch was operated by boatshed owners Mr James Flett & Sons. The photograph is one of a pair that was taken by Mrs. Dawson and published in the Warrnambool Standard 24th March 1973.
An item a few years earlier in the Warrnambool Standard of 1899 promoted an evening excursion to aid in a fund-raising event for the Warrnambool Hospital. The excursion on the steamer Lady Loch, towing boats, would leave Flett and Son's boatshed on the Hopkins River at 7:30pm travelling towards Jubilee Park. It can be presumed that both the Lady Loch and the rowing boats in tow were all from Mr James Flett & Son’s boating establishment.
The Lady Loch was described as “a fine little steamer with capacity for about 70 passengers.” She was a screw-driven steamboat so hardly disturbed the waters of the Hopkins River, dismissing the fears of local mullet fishermen, as there was almost no wash from the steamer. She measured 52 feet in length, a beam of 9 feet and weighed about 7 tons.
HISTORY OF “LADY LOCH”
Mr. Mark Hooper purchased a new steamboat for his pleasure boating business in Colac. The boat, “Lady of the Lake”, was possibly made by one of the boatbuilders at Lake Wendouree, a very popular recreational venue in the 1880s. The little launch arrived at Lake Colac by road from Ballarat on 21st November 1887; her boiler and engine had been transported by rail the day before. On at least one occasion she was chartered for the entertainment of ladies and gentlemen on a moonlight excursion on Lack Colac.
The steamboat was renamed the “Lady Loch” by her new owner Mrs. Fanny Nelson who purchased her in June 1888 for her business “Nelson’s Boating Establishment” on the Hopkins River, Warrnambool. Some people have wondered whether Mrs. Nelson re-named the boat in honour of the wife of the then-current Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Loch, Governor from 1884 – 1889. It was stated by one of the local papers that the Lady Loch flew the Governor’s colours of yellow, black and blue on her first trip under Mrs. Nelson’s ownership, Sunday 12th August 1888.
HISTORY ASSOCIATED WITH MRS. FANNY NELSON’S BOATING ESTABLISHMENT
Frances (Fanny) Maria Mann was born in 1828, at Gloustershire, England. She married Andrew Abernethy II Nelson of County Downs, Ireland (born 1831) in July 1848. Their eldest child of six was born there in 1854. They emigrated to Australia in May 1855. The second child was born in 1856, the following children in 1859 and 1862 (both in Wangoom) 1866 and 1870 (both in Warrnambool).
Mr. Andrew Nelson and his wife Fanny lived near the mouth of the Hopkins River from the late 1850’s. Andrew was a keen fisherman and also operated a boat hire business on the lower Hopkins River. He was mentioned in the local Warrnambool Examiner for a notably sized kingfish that he and his mate caught in the Hopkins River in 1859. Fanny was also well known for ‘hearty meals’
There were another boatshed and boat hire business on the Hopkins River, on the corner of Simpson and Bostock Sts., near the cemetery. It was owned by Joseph Aberline in 1871. Aberline’s boat business was taken over by Mr Charles Everett by August 1872. Mr Everett obtained a Colonial Wine Licence in October 1872 for ‘a house situated at the Hopkins’. In 1873 he sold the land and boating business to Mr Peter McGennan, who was granted the Colonial Wine Licence transfer in September 1873. He built a large boatshed in which the Warrnambool Rowing Club stored its boats. In October 1876 the main boatshed and a workshop nearby burnt down but the house, (known later as Hopkins Hotel) was saved. Mr. McGennan rebuilt the boatshed and continued with his businesses.
Andrew Nelson passed away from a heart aneurism, June 21st 1875 aged 44. Fanny took over the McGennan business to support herself and her 6 children. It was now “Mrs. Nelson’s Boating and Fishing Establishment”. In 1877 the Hopkins Colonial Wine Licence was transferred to Mrs. Fanny M. Nelson. In 1878 she advertised that the renovated establishment now had boats, fishing gear and accommodation available at moderate prices. She renewed the Colonial Wine Licence for the Hopkins Hotel in December 1883. In 1884 she purchased four new clinker-built rowing boats, two of which were outriggers with sliding seats, to join her sculling boat. Her premises also included the local Post Office.
In August 1885 Mrs. Fanny Nelson called for tenders for a boathouse to be built on the Hopkins River closer to the river bank and near the Nelson house. It would be “specially built for housing of eight-oared boats, with dressing room and bath for the rowers. There will be a platform on one side and two jetties into the river.” It became known as The Nelson’s Boathouse.
In December 1885 Fanny Nelson was granted a Hotel Licence for Hopkins Hotel; this was her home but also had six rooms that were separate from the Nelson family’s rooms. She was now proprietress of both the Hopkins Hotel and the Nelson’s Boating Establishment. Fanny Nelson, the proprietress of the Hopkins Hotel, received a very favourable mention in the esteemed book ‘Victoria and its Metropolis” in1888, one of the very few women mentioned.
Andrew Nelson (the third), son of Fanny and Andrew Nelson, was by trade a baker and confectioner. He was also a keen member of the Warrnambool Rowing Club and was a member of the team that won the Colac Regatta in 1887. He occasionally helped his mother and brother with the boats and later with a ‘small steamer’.
Mrs. Nelson was looking for a suitable steam launch to run on the Hopkins River in conjunction with her “Nelson’s Boating Establishment” business. It was Messers St. Quintin and M. McDonald of Warrnambool who then sold Mr. Mark Hooper’s steamboat “Lady of the Lake” to Mrs. Fanny Nelson of the Hopkins. She had it transported overland from Colac to Warrnambool by Messrs. Stansmore Bros.. The following day, Sunday 5th August 1888, a large crowd of people were on the Hopkins River to have a look at the steamer, which was still to have her fittings, such as the boiler, installed. This was done by the former owner (Mr Hooper) and Lady Loch was ready for a trial run on Saturday 11th August 1888.
Lady Loch’s first trip took place the following day to Jubilee Park and the ‘islands’ at Allansford. Mr Hooper was on board, along with John Steel, her future engineer, Mr. T.H. Osborne at the wheel and there were over 70 passengers. She made the trip back to Mrs. Nelson’s boatshed at an “easy steam of six miles an hour. The whole trip took one and three-quarters of an hour”.
Mrs. Nelson sold her complete business “Hopkins Hotel and Boat Establishment” in 1890 to Mr E.S.V. (Edward Samuel Vincent) Chapman. She moved to Melbourne and in 1896 was living in Napier St. South Melbourne, where she catered for her daughter Clara’s wedding. Later her address was Mills St, Albert Park. On 26th May 1900 she died from a burns accident and was buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery.
[A photograph in the State Library of Victoria; ID 7022, 1889 - “Hopkins River” shows a picture of the Nelson’s Boatsheds, with Fanny Nelson holding her granddaughter Ruby’s hand.
Another photograph shows the boathouse taken from the river. Its title is “Chapman’s on Hopkins (River)” c. 1890, Image No: b22487 and shows what the boathouse looked like around the time that it changed hands from Fanny Nelson to Mr Chapman. .]
Mr. Chapman ran advertisements in the Colac Herald for Sunday afternoon Excursions on the Hopkins River from his boatsheds to Jubilee Park, where participants disembarked on the landing and walked up the steps to enjoy a picnic before returning to Chapman’s boatsheds at the end of about a one and a half hour journey. In February 1892 the Hotel was transferred to Mrs. Chapman, Edward’s wife.
In July 1893 Mr George Coate received the transfer of the Hotel Licence and ran it for nine years. It was then purchased by Arthur Hyde in 1903. During this year there were two separate earth tremours, in which the Hopkins Hotel suffered some damage, but the embankment behind the boatshed was torn away. The Hopkins Hotel changed hands again in July 1907, the new owner being Thomas David Lindsay. The hotel closed its doors in June 1911 after a fire. The building was re-erected but never again became a hotel. The boatsheds, owned at this time by Mr Flett, were unharmed.
Hopkins Hotel changed owners and the accommodation was then called Hopkins House. It changed hands several times until it was purchased by the Warrnambool City Council and demolished in 1974 and became part of the Hopkins River Recreation Reserve now King Park.
On New Years Day 1895 a newspaper item announced that the Lady Loch would run from Chapmsn’s Jetty at 10:30am and 3pm. [Warrnambool and District Historical Society have a photograph in their collection showing Chapman’s Boat House on the Hopkins River with the Hotel on the hillside in the background.]
Mr. James Flett & Sons purchased the boating business from Mr. Chapman in January 1897. James Flett had already been involved in boating. In 1875 he had “erected a large blackwood lighter on the Jetty Flat for Spencer Smith & Co. All the lighters owned by Mr John Young were built by him at the jetty some years before”.
A tragedy occurred on Jan 7th 1899 when William Grayson drowned after he had been boating on Hopkins River with a companion, a jockey named Style. William had fallen into the river and his companion was unable to save him. The boat had been hired from Flett’s shed.
In 1904 the Camperdown Chronicle advertised excursions to Warrnambool including a trip on the “Lady Loch”. [There is a photograph in the State Library of Victoria titled “Jubilee Park Landing Stage and S.S. “Lady Loch” Warrnambool”, taken circa 1908. It shows a group of 4 ladies on the landing beside the “Lady Loch” and other people still on the boat.]
[The website “Picture Victoria” displays a photograph “Mouth of the Hopkins” that shows the Hopkins River mouth, bridge, Proudfoot’s boathouse and the rear of [the former] Mrs Nelson’s Hopkins Hotel, [once] occupied by Frances Maria (Fanny) and Andrew Abernathy Nelson Snr. ]. (narration for the photo on the website incorrect, in that it was the former’ home of Fanny and Andrew Nelson, and it dates approximately 1910-1915.)
Sunday 12th November 1911 it was reported as ‘one of the busiest days of the season’ in Warrnambool. A special train, for the ‘Camperdown Church of England Sunday School’, was run from Camperdown to Warrnambool and Port Fairy, returning in the evening. It was ‘largely availed by all denominations, and the general public from Camperdown district, fully 600 adults and children and about half that number spent the day in Warrnambool. A large number of boats were on the river and the Lady Loch was well patronised.
Flett’s boating business was still in operation until Mr. Flett advertised everything for sale in January 1916, including the boatshed and the steam launch “Lady Loch”. Until that time, both the Flett’s boatsheds and Proudfoot’s boathouse operated boat hire businesses alongside each other.
In 1921 there was a new passenger boat on the Hopkins River; the motor launch “Nestor”. This new boat was owned and built by Mr. Edward Geary himself and completed on 23rd December 1920. She was licenced to carry up to 80 passengers. Unfortunately “Nestor” met with disaster when she sank in the Hopkins River on 9th January 1921. She was on her way from the Jetty near the Rowing Club to Jubilee Park on a fine and calm Sunday afternoon when, 10 minutes into the journey, she sprung a leak. There were about 80 adults and children on board, resulting in the loss of 10 lives. Dr. Henderson (Koroit St. Warrnambool) attended the scene and resuscitated some of the passengers. The survivors were taken to Flett’s boatshed where a large number of people had gathered. (Perhaps the name ‘Flett’ was still in use as a local name for the boatshed, as Mr. Flett had sold it in 1916.)
The boatsheds erected by Mrs Fanny Nelson became the headquarters for the Warrnambool Ski Club but was demolished in 2004 when a new club building was erected nearby.
(NOTE: In 1885, Thomas Proudfoot also began building his boathouse, at the same time as Fanny Nelson’s new boathouse. In 1886 Proudfoot’s started offering afternoon teas as well as operating their fishing and boating business. Proudfoods boathouse was closer to the mouth of the Hopkins Rive than Fanny Nelson’s. In 1893 he added other buildings.)
[References; The Warrnambool Standard; Colac Herald; Mann Family Tree website; Warrnambool Past and Present, Vidler; State Library of Victoria; Warrnambool Hotels, E. O'Callaghan; 140 years on the Hopkins River, Warrnambool Rowing Club; Warrnambool Examiner; The Australasian; Trove, National Library of Australia; Fanny M. Nelson's great-great-granddaughter LC; The Age; South West Genealogist; Camperdown Chronicle; John Lindsay; Australian Postal History and Social Philately website]The photograph of Lady Loch pleasure steamer represents the social and recreational activities of late 19th century people from Warrnambool and the local district. It shows and example of pleasure craft of that era. The history of the Lady Loch includes the history of fishing and boat hire businesses of that period.Photograph, black and white, of the river steam boat “Lady Loch”. The “Lady Loch” is towing five rowing boats on the Hopkins River from Jubilee Park towards the river mouth and carrying many ladies and gentlemen. It was taken from the south river bank, from a property called “Allandale” by Mrs. A. G. Dawson between February 1907 and June 1910. During these years the “Lady Loch” was owned by Mr James Flett & Sons. Her previous owner was Mrs. Fanny Nelson.flagstaff hill, warrnambool, shipwrecked-coast, flagstaff-hill, flagstaff-hill-maritime-museum, maritime-museum, shipwreck-coast, flagstaff-hill-maritime-village, lady of the lake, lady loch photograph, lady of the lake steamer, lady loch steamer, lake colac steamer, hopkins river warrnambool, jubilee park warrnambool, proudfood's boat house, francis maria mann, andrew abernathy nelson iiird, hopkins hotel, nelson's boathouse, chapman's boathouse, flett's boathouse, proudfoot's boathouse, fanny (francis) nelson, james flett & sons, nestor, ferry