Hulk Beatrice

The hulk Beatrice (circled in red) moored upstream of the Victoria Bridge in 1895 when being used by the Commercial Rowing Club. In the foreground is the steamer Pearl.

The barque Beatrice finished its journeys as a hulk in the river near Queen’s Wharf. In November 1884, following a six-month journey from New York that the Brisbane Courier described as a ‘boisterous passage’, the Beatrice was towed up the Brisbane River and condemned. Built in 1858 at Newcastle-on-Tyne, the oak and teak vessel was moored in the river adjacent to Queen’s Wharf and offered for sale.

The Beatrice had had a chequered career. In 1863, on a voyage transporting coal to Hong Kong, two lives were lost in a failed mutiny. Four seamen involved in the mutiny were convicted and hanged. Following sale to a German firm, many more voyages were undertaken. After being condemned, the Beatrice was purchased initially by shipwrights Campbell and Dunlop. She was sold to the Queensland Government in November 1888 for £800.

One of the retired barque’s first tasks was to act as a flagship for the Anniversary Rowing Regatta on the South Brisbane and Milton reaches of the river in December 1888. By 1891 the Beatrice was being referred to in the newspapers as a ‘health hulk’, a vessel used for quarantine purposes in the event of outbreaks of diseases such as smallpox. Towing the hulk to Peel Island was debated by the Central Board of Health but this did not eventuate.

Along with the considerable other damage which occurred, the flood peaks of February 1893 caused the Beatrice to drift down river. She was re-moored near the Naval Stores at Kangaroo Point. As their boat sheds had been swept away in the flood, the Commercial Rowing Club purchased the Beatrice to serve as both boat shed and headquarters, a function performed until 1896 when, according to one report, ‘the barque, strangely altered from her smart appearance of 1858, settled down quietly on the river bed. Her usefulness was over and she became a danger’. The Beatrice was later broken up for scrap.