Our history’s just steaming along


An engine from one of Queenstown’s oldest steamships is being restored – despite the boat being 183m under water.

The engine was salvaged from the 80-year-old Ben Lomond steamship which transported general freight, cargo and passengers around Lake Wakatipu before it was sunk in Kingston Bay in 1952. 

The engine was stored at Arrowtown’s Lakes District Museum before it was passed onto the Canterbury Steam Preservation Trust to be preserved. 

Now, after 60 years of the engine being in limbo, it will be put back into working order at a cost of $20,000. 

Restorers and trust members Peter Boyes and John Newlands aim to have the engine, built in 1886, producing steam in time for the centenary of Queenstown’s Earnslaw steamship in October. 

“It’s got to be saved, it’s got to be preserved and it’s got to be got going again and that’s what we’re doing,” Boyes, an engineer, says. 

“It’s something that has a lot of history in New Zealand as far as steam shipping goes; it’s unique as it was made here.”

Boyes and Newlands have been working on the engine since October but in order to finish the restoration, the pair is in search of finance. 

“We’re trying to get finance for it but it’s drying up around the country, especially in Christchurch after the earthquakes,” Boyes says. 

Up to 20 hours a week are spent working on the engine and Boyes says his engineering background is keeping the restoration afloat as there are a large number of missing parts that need to be manufactured from scratch. 

After the Earnslaw centenary, the steam engine will be put on display for the public at the preservation trust’s Steam Museum at McLean’s Island in Christchurch.