15 October 2012
The TSS Earnslaw centenary celebrations were officially launched on Sunday (October 14), during a night of nostalgia, when more than a hundred past and present staff members gathered on board the heritage steamer to mark her century of service.
The steamship celebrates her 100th official birthday on October 18 with a re-enactment of her maiden voyage from Kingston to Queenstown and people are gathering from all over New Zealand, as well as overseas, to join the celebrations.
Speaking at the staff function Real Journeys’ TSS Earnslaw Centenary Celebrations Manager Tracey Maclaren paid tribute to the commitment of staff over the years.
“It is wonderful that so many of us can be here and say we have celebrated the Lady of the Lake’s 100th birthday. This is a very special event and a great opportunity for everyone to reminisce and exchange memories.”
Real Journeys Director Tony McQuilkin said staff who had worked on the steamer over the years, along with current employees, had played a vital role in her history.
“We want to keep the TSS Earnslaw going for another 100 years but we do need support to make that happen. We want people to be boat riders not boat watchers and the message is that no visit to Queenstown is complete without a ride on the steamship.”
Some of the former staff attending worked on the TSS Earnslaw as early as the 1940s.
Bett Pittaway (nee Grant) was an office junior for New Zealand Railways which operated the TSS Earnslaw for almost 60 years before private enterprise took over while George Clephane was a wharf porter in 1943 and Russ Grigg ran the ship to shore radio for the vessel from 1953-59. (see image).
Among the former skippers at the function was long serving captain Maru Bradshaw who worked for Fiordland Travel Ltd (rebranded real Journeys 2002) skippering the TSS Earnslaw for 21 years from 1970-1991.
He says he will always have an affinity with the old steamer and has fond memories of his time at the helm.
“She could be cantankerous at times and sometimes sprang a few surprises but she was always reliable and I am sure she will be around for a lot more years to come.”
Special centenary cruises began operating in Frankton Arm today leading up to the re-enactment cruise on Thursday October 18 and a high country cruise to Glenorchy on Sunday October 21 which will trace the original freight route taken by the TSS Earnslaw.
Image: Bett Pittaway former office junior NZ Railways, George Clephane former wharf porter and Russ Grigg former ship-to-shore radio operator pictured on Steamer Wharf.
For the TSS Earnslaw Centenary programme of events (14 - 22 October 2012): www.tssearnslaw.co.nz
For further information:
Lenksa Papich - Real Journeys Marketing Communications Manager
Mob: +64 21 523 899