The firm to which the contract to build the new Huddart Parker steamer was a well-known and prolific shipbuilder located on the Clyde in Scotland – Caird & Co.

On the 3rd of September 1903 a Memorandum of Agreement was entered into by Messrs Caird & Company Limited, Greenock, shipbuilders and engineers, and Messrs  Huddart, Parker & Company, Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne, Victoria, shipowners.

The Agreement stated that the builders agreed to build and sell and the purchasers agreed to purchase a new steel screw steam ship to be designated as Number 304 in the builder’s yard.

The Agreement also laid out the general terms in regard to both the vessel as well as her engines and boilers. Her Deadweight Carrying Capacity was specified at ‘two thousand eight hundred tons (2800) cargo, fuel and stores on a mean draught not exceeding 21′ 5 1/2 “, and to have a speed of thirteen (13) knots when so laden on a Trial Trip or Trips of six hours continuous run.’

The Builders’ undertook to

“…deliver the said Vessel complete in all respects and ready for sea to the said Purchasers not later than Twelve Months after the signature thereof, and after Purchasers approval of general arrangement plan and model. Should the Builders’ not meet the deadline, they would pay the Purchasers for every working day beyond that time, with the exceptions of ‘strikes or lock-outs of workmen in the employ of the Builders, or of the workmen in the employ of makers of machinery and boilers, or in the coal, steel, machinery, iron, or other trades affecting the material required for the construction of the Vessel, or fire, or other causes beyond the control of the Builders…”

Huddart Parker agreed to pay the Builders for the Vessel built, equipped and engined in accordance with the specifications for the ship and engines, the price or sum of £71,500 ¹ to be paid in five equal allotments. The first payment of £14,300 was to be paid in cash when the keel was laid (December 1903). The second payment of £14,300 was to be paid in cash on the framing of vessel and when beams where practicable were fixed, the Decks cut and the engines ‘proportionally advanced.’ (March 1904). The third payment of £14,300 was again, to be paid in cash on plating the vessel, and main part of decks laid, and heavy part of engines erected, and the boilers and furnaces in the vessel’s shell. (June 1904). The fourth payment of £14,300 was to paid in cash on the launching of the vessel; and the fifth and final payment of £14,300 was to be paid in cash on the vessel’s completion and transfer.

Additional stipulations were also recorded in the Agreement which was signed by Caird, Managing Director, on behalf of the Builders, and by John Webb, for Huddart Parker.

William Cumming was appointed to act as the local superintendent for Huddart Parker and was responsible for supervising her construction. He was despatched to England in July 1903 not long after the departure of J.L. Webb. Captain Free went to London in February 1904, Thomas William Miles (formerly of the Coogee) in May 1904 & James Cocks in June – all in association with the construction and delivery of the new steamer.

¹ 2014 value is approximately AU$10,486,615 based on the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Pre-Decimal Inflation Calculator

Feature image above: Caird & Co’s SS Mooltan at the fitting-out dock, Greenock. Alongside is the Royal Navy’s Devonshire-class armoured cruiser HMS Argyle. ca1905.

© Ralph L. Sanderson 2009-2021