Historical information

The ship's steering gear was used for steering and navigation of a vessel - it was a very important part of the ship's equipment. This steering gear was part of the original vessel 'Reginald M', which became part of the exhibitions at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. The steering gear was manufactured by the Carron Company.


The Carron Company established its ironworks on the banks of the River Carron in Stirlingshire, Scotland, in 1759, and became an incorporated company in 1773. One of the notable items produced by the company was the Carronade, a short-barrelled naval cannon, being produced until the 1850s. The company was the largest ironworks in Europe during the 19th century. It supplied ammunition and armaments, steamboat engines, pig iron, cast iron goods such as balustrades fire grates and bath tugs, pillar boxes and telephone boxes, and even cast iron rings for underground tunnels. In 1982 it became insolvent and was taken over by the Franke Corporation, using the brand Carron Phoenix.


The Reginald M’s purpose was to serve the coastal trade of South Australia, to carry cargo cheaply and efficiently. It is believed that the keel was in fact hewn from two telegraph poles! Its builder frequented all the salvage yards for materials and fittings.

The vessel “Reginald M” was a two-masted coastal ketch, owned and built by Mr. Jack (John) Murch of Birkenhead, Port of Adelaide, South Australia. Its construction took approximately 6 months and it was launched at Largs Bay in 1922.

Reginald M had a very shallow draft and a flat bottom that enabled it to come close to shore and to sit high and dry at low tide or to be beached on sand. The flat bottom was also to make the ship able to skim over reefs. Wagons could load and unload direct from her side. Her cargo included Guano, Barley, Wool, Horses, Cattle, Timber, Explosives, Potatoes, Shell Grit and Gypsum.

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

Reg Webb purchased Carribie Station, at Marion in the Warooka District, south of Adelaide, in 1921. He cleared the land and farmed sheep and grain. In 1923 he shipped his own wool and grain from Marion Bay, having first carted 300 bags of the barley grain, 12 bags at a time, along the unmade track to the jetty.

A photograph donated to Flagstaff Hill, dating about 1929 - 1942, shows two men on the Reginald M, holding between them their fishing catch of a large hammer shark. The photograph is stamped “GRENFELL STUDIO PORT LINCOLN PRINT” and titled “hammer shark caught on Reginald Emm”. The donor’s family lived on the Your Peninsular and despatched their grain from a chute at Gleeson’s Landing to the awaiting transport vessel.

Reg knew the Murch Brothers from Port Adelaide. The brothers had been using their ketch REGINALD M to ship Guano from the Islands, led by Captain Richard Murch. Reg approached them in 1934 about shipping grain from Marion Bay. The brothers visited the bay and thought it was an ideal place. They showed Reg where to stack his grain and they measured up the cliffs. When Reg was ready, they brought down and installed a ninety foot wooden chute. The bags of grain were then individually sent down the chute, landing in a waiting small boat then rowed to REGINALD M, 14 bags at a time. After 10 hours REGINALD M would be fully loaded with 1300 bags of grain and shipped to waiting ports. At one time a wild storm destroyed the chute but it was rebuilt and strengthened. REGINALD M was involved in shipping the grain from there until 1938.

In 1940 Able Seaman Allan H Lucas served on Reginald M between September and December, being engaged and discharged from Port of Adelaide. His Certificate of Discharge was signed by ship’s Master W S Murch.

It seems that at some stage Reginald M was used as a Customs vessel, as one photograph in Flagstaff Hill’s collection shows “H.M.C. No. 3, Pt Adelaide” on the bow.

In 1969 the last freight left Marion Bay on the ketch REGINALD M carrying grain, wool and explosives.

In late 1970 she was sold to the Mt. Lyell Mining and Railway Company and was used by them as a barge to carry explosives.

In 1972 the Navy League of Strahan, Tasmania, purchased her for use by the Strahan Sea Cadet Unit to use at Macquarie Harbour and renamed her T.S. Macquarie. However this plan for use of Reginald M did not come to pass.

In 1974 Mr. Andrew Rennie, of East Brighton, Melbourne, bought her for a similar purpose. , paying $5,000 and donating a ‘Cadet of the Year” trophy to the Sea Cadets. He sailed her from Strahan to Melbourne, planning to use her for pleasure sailing.

Also in 1975 Reginald M was sold to Melbourne Ferry Company at auction.

Later in 1975 the Reginald M was bought by Flagstaff Maritime Museum for $20,000 . She has been restored and is now one of the exhibits in the Village lagoon or lake. It was restored in 2006 using funds from a $4,000 government grant.

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village’s Collection holds several other artefacts associated with Reginald M. They include photographs of the Reginald M, including one photograph of her in Outer Harbour, S.A. dated 1947, with Skipper- R.F. Dale and Owner- John Murch. Another shows her docked at Port Adelaide, with the lettering H.M.C. No. 3 Pt ADEL (standing for His/Her Majesty’s Customs). There is a black and white photo of her at a wharf and another showing a person on board.


The steering gear is significant through its association with the Carron Company, the largest ironworks in Europe in the 19th century, and the manufacture of the short barrel, lightweight naval gun - the Carronade.
The steering gear is significant for its association with the vessel REGINALD M is a coastal trading ketch from South Australia built in 1922. It is one of very few sailing coastal trading vessels still extant, and its flat bottom, single chine shape illustrates a very simple but robust method of construction, compared to other round bilged examples of trading vessels.

She is now listed on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels (ARHV Number: HV000562.)

Physical description

Ship's steering gear that was part of the original vessel 'Reginald M', which was constructed in 1922. Inscription on both sides. Made by the Carron Company, UK.

Inscriptions & markings