SS TOROA - The Only Survivor

Posted by on 20 September 2013 | Comments

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The Toroa is the only steam-powered survivor in Auckland, New Zealand of the fleet of Waitemata Harbour double-ended steam ferries that used to run between Auckland City and the North Shore. She is a tangible piece of the history and development of Auckland and she is absolutely irreplaceable. Her restoration to authentic, seaworthy condition is well underway.

Toroa was the last of the eight Albatross-type steam passenger ferries to be built for the Waitemata. She was built at George Niccol's yard at St. Mary's Bay, Auckland for the Devonport Steam Ferry Company Ltd. and was launched on Tuesday 28th April, 1925. Until her retirement in 1980 she served the North Shore, mainly on the Auckland to Devonport run with Makora, carrying 20,000 or more passengers a day between them at the peak of the passenger service before the opening of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959.

Toroa still has her original Scottish-built triple-expansion steam engine and boiler, both in reasonably sound condition. The composite-construction hull (timber planking and backbone; steel framing and bulkheads) and the timber superstructure require much work, and full advantage is being taken of this opportunity to train new people in vessel and machinery conservation work.

Toroa is hauled out at Selwood Road, Henderson, Waitakere City to restore her to authentic and seaworthy condition. This major restoration, beginning with the hull and the engine, is has made major progress and will in due course return her to the Harbour as an authentic double-ended steam ferry, preserving the history of the ferries, and presenting the story and the phenomenon of steam propulsion to new generations of Aucklanders and visitors.

The Toroa Preservation Society Inc. is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the restoration, preservation and maintenance of the Toroa. New members are most welcome to actively assist and/or support the Society's efforts.

Top:  The Devonport Steam Ferry Co double-ended steam ferry Toroa departs Devonport Wharf some time in the 1950s. © David Frith, Toroa Collection