Historical information

Andy Clapham owned and operated a boat yard on the Maribyrnong River in Footscray, Victoria. The river runs into Port Phillip Bay (sometimes known as Hobson’s bay) at Williamstown, an area with a history of trades associated with the shipping and construction industry. Andy Clapham’s photographs include those of the Reginald M and one of Polly Woodside, another vessel restored and used as a maritime exhibition.

Andy Clapham’s letter of 1972 was posted in a and envelope with an early Australian decimal currency stamp showing the profile portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, and valued at 7 cent.

Andy offered invaluable advice to the Flagstaff Hill Historic Park Planning Board regarding the purchase a vessel suitable for use as an exhibit once Flagstaff Hill was opened. The Planning Board was set up by the Warrnambool Chamber of Commerce and approved by the City Council and State Government. Flagstaff Hill was investigating vessels in Adelaide and Tasmania as well as Melbourne.

Andy looked at several vessels in 1972-1973. He also serviced the Reginald M among other vessels belonging to Captain Julian Dyson of Yarra Ferries, who had casually offered the vessel to Flagstaff Hill as a price that was unattainable at the time. Flagstaff Hill later requested photographs of the hull to discern the dimensions and also the condition of the timbers as well as wanting advice on its seafaring capability.

In 1972 the Flagstaff Hill Historic Park Planning Board – Chairman J. (John) S. Lindsay (1972-1980), Secretary J. (James) Mark – wrote a letter of appreciation to Mr A. (Andy) Clapham of 3 Charles Street Footscray ...

“Dear Mr. Clapham,
The Board has asked me to write to you to express our appreciation for the assistance you have offered us through our Chairman John Lindsay.
The information you have already given us has been invaluable, in that is shows us that we have not been setting out to do something that is impossible.
We look forward to receiving further information from you as it becomes available and we appreciate that you must be busy enough without our problems. Members of our Board hope to call and see you on a trip to Melbourne in the near future.
The Board is optimistic about the future of Flagstaff Hill as a Maritime Museum and look forward to you visiting Warrnambool to examine what we believe will be an ideal site.
Yours faithfully, James Mark.”

ABOUT the vessel “Reginald M”

The vessel “Reginald M” was a two-masted, timber coastal vessel built by John Henry Murch in Birkenhead, Port of Adelaide, South Australia. It was named after Reginald Murch. (It was occasionally referred to as the Reginald “Emm”). Its construction took approximately 6 months using many materials and fittings from salvage yards. It is believed that the keep was hewn from two telegraph poles! Reginald M was launched at Largs Bay in 1922.

Reginald M was approximately 30 metres long and was fore-to-aft ketch rigged with an ‘auxiliary’ motor to support any loss of sail power.

The Reginald M was built to service the coastal ports of South Australia to Port Victoria on the York Peninsular, Spencer Gulf. It freighted cargo from port to port cheaply and efficiently. It had a very shallow draft and a flat bottom, enabling it to come close to shore and sit high and dry at low tide, or to be beached on the sand. It could easily skim over reefs due to its flat bottom. Wagons could be loaded and unloaded directly from the side of the vessel. Over the years her cargo included guano, barley, wool, horses, cattle, timber, explosives, potatoes, shell grit and gypsum.

The Murch brothers from Port Adelaide were owners of the Reginald M and Richard Murch as the Captain.

On April 9, 1931, Reginald M weathered a large storm in St. Vincents Gulf, SA, suffering much damage; the mast snapped and the crew laboured for four hours to free it up by severing the mast and rigging. The crew patched it up and slowly returned to Port Adelaide with only a portion of the insured cargo being damaged. The crew members at that time were owner Mr John Henry Murch of Wells Street Largs Bay, Skipper Mr R Murch – John’s brother, Murray – son of Captain Murch and Seaman John Smith.

At some stage it seems that the Reginald M was used as a Customs vessel “H.M.C. No. 3, Pt Adelaide” as shown in a photograph in Flagstaff Hill’s collection.

In 1969 Reginald M’s last freight trip left Marion Bay, carrying grain, wool and explosives. In late 1970 it was sold to the Mount Lyall Mining and Railway Clompany and used as a barge to carry explosives. In 1972 The Navy League of Strahan, Tasmania, purchased the vessel for use by the Strahan Sea Cadet Unit at Macquarie Harbour; it was renamed “T.S. Macquarie”. (This plan did not come to pass.)

In 1974 Mr Andrew Rennie of East Brighton, Melbourne, brought Reginald M for shipping purposes, He sailed it from Strahan to Melbourne, planning to use it for pleasure sailing. The Reginald M was later sold at auction to Captain Julian Dyson, owner of Yarra Passenger Ferries in Melbourne.

Later in 1975 funds became available to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village to purchase the Reginald M. It was then restored and used as an exhibit here for many hears.

Flagstaff Hill’s collection also includes various objects related to the Reginald M:
- Photographs of Reginald M over the years in various aspects of its use
- a life buoy with the inscription of “Pt. Adelaide”
- helm section that was removed and replaced during restoration
- a bullet found in pieces of timber during the 1979 restoration

On the bow in the Polly Woodside's photograph is the word "RONA". the Polly Woodside was built at Belfast in 1885. In 1904 the vessel was sold to A.H. Turnbull of New Zealand and renamed "RONA".


The letter and photographs are significant for their association with the Reginald M, an Australian built coastal trader now on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels (number HV000562).
The letter and photographs are also significant as part of both the history of Flagstaff Hill and the history of the vessel “Reginald M” that has been on display in the lake for many years. Objects retained from this boat are included in Flagstaff Hill’s collection of maritime history.

Physical description

Packet with photographs and negatives in a KODAK envelope. The photographs are of two sail and steam vessels; twelve (12) black and white photographs of the 'Reginald M', and one (1) colour photograph of the Polly Woodside, plus six (6) negative strips. Included int he packet is a letter in stamped and postmarked envelope addressed to Mr A Clapham of Footscray.
The envelope postmarked 9 Dec 1972, with the Warrnambool postcode 3280, A 7c Australian postage stamp in attached to the envelope.
They are associated with Flagstaff Hill’s acquisition of the vessel “Reginald M”.

Inscriptions & markings

Envelope "9 DEC 1972 / 3280" Postage stamp "7c" "Australia"
Inscriptions on one Reginald M;; "REGINALD M" and "Pt ADELAIDE H.M.C. No. 3"
Inscriptions of the Polly Woodside; "RONA / MSC" "MHI / NO. 1"
Ball point ink, reverse of photograph "POLLY WOODSIDE"