Historical information

This set of pairs of pintles and gudgeons was recovered from the wreck of the sailing ship Schomberg and was part of its rudder steering system. A reconstruction that includes four pairs is currently on display at Flagstaff Hill. The rudder installation of the Schomberg was almost seven metres tall.

A pintle and gudgeon pair is a mechanical fitting that works like a pair of door hinges. One of the uses for this type of fitting is for ships’ rudders. On a ship, one or several gudgeons would be attached to the vertical rudder stempost on the rear of the ship’s hull. On the ship's rudder, an equal number of pintles would be fitted onto it. The rudder assembly would then fit down into the gudgeons on the ship and would be connected to its steering mechanism, allowing it to be moved from side to side and steer the vessel.


The three-masted clipper ship Schomberg was built in 1855 by Alexander Hall and Co in Aberdeen, Scotland, for James Baines' famous Black Ball line. It measured 288 feet (88 meters) in length, with a beam of 45 feet (14 meters), a depth of 29.5 feet (8.99 meters) and 2,284 tons. The mainmast was 210 feet (64 meters) high and the ship carried 3.3 acres of sail. The wooden vessel was constructed with three skins; one planked fore and aft, and two diagonally planked. All skins were fastened together with screw-threaded trunnels (wooden rails).

The Schomberg was one of only three clippers wrecked in Victorian waters that operated the England-to-Australia run. It was built to outrun Donald MacKay’s two American-built ships, the Empress of the Sea and the Lightning. It was hoped that Schomberg would make Liverpool to Melbourne voyage in sixty days, setting a record for the voyage.

The Schomberg sailed from Liverpool on 6 October 1855 on her maiden voyage, under the command of Captain James Forbes. Her general cargo for Australia included jewellery, spirits, machinery, and 2,000 tons of iron rails and equipment for building the Melbourne to Geelong Railway and a bridge over the Yarra from Melbourne to Hawthorn, and17,000 letters and 31,800 newspapers. She also carried a cow for fresh milk, pens for fowls and pigs, plus 90,000 gallons of water for washing and drinking on board. There were approximately 473 passengers, including migrants for Australia, and a crew of 105.

Light winds encountered at the equator dashed the expectations of a record-breaking voyage. On Christmas day the ship sighted Moonlight Head in southwest Victoria and even though there was a deadly combination of wind, currents and unmarked sand spits, the vessel continued on. Then the next day, December 26th 1855, the huge ship gently ran aground on a spit that juts into Newfield Bay, east of Curdies Inlet and the present town of Peterborough. Fortunately, the coastal trader, SS Queen, was nearby and managed to save all passengers and crew.

In 1975 Flagstaff Hill’s former Director Peter Ronald and the team of divers recovered many objects and artefacts from the wreck of the Schomberg such as the ship’s fittings, equipment and personal effects including a diamond hidden for years in a communion set.


This set of pintles and gudgeons is an example of steering equipment used on ships over 150 years ago, equipment that is still in use in today's shipping industry as well as many other everyday hardware applications..
The equipment is significant for its association with the ill-fated vessel Schomberg, which was wrecked in the local water in 1855 on its maiden voyage. The ship was built for speed and luxury, to sail on journeys with passengers, including migrants, travelling from Liverpool to Melbourne.

Physical description

Pintles and gudgeons, six pairs, plus one single pintle, from the wreck of the SCHOMBERG. Cast iron horse-shoe-shaped fittings with tapered ends. each with metal bars between the long sides. One piece of each pair has a round hollow cylinder and the other has a round solid shank. The single pintle has a tall shank with a pintle hook through it. Some pieces have remnants of grey paint.