May Queen

Aboard the May Queen, Christmas Day 1895 (W.L. Crowther Library, SLT)

May Queen, oldest surviving Tasmanian trading ketch, was built in 1867 at Franklin, Huon River, by Alexander Lawson for William Thorpe. In 1873 the vessel was purchased by Hobart timber merchant Henry Chesterman and remained in the hands of his firm or its business partners for over a century. In 1975 the vessel was donated to the Marine Board of Hobart for preservation, but after falling into disrepair, was transferred to the May Queen Trust and is currently under full restoration. At 36 tons gross and 20 metres in length, May Queen is a typical example of the hundreds of small trading craft built in Tasmania between the 1830s and 1940s that maintained commerce around the river systems and coastal areas, or were exported to surrounding colonies and states.

Graeme Broxam