TSS Earnslaw celebrates 100 years

The Lady of the Lake celebrates 100 years

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 12:47 18/10/2012

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Shoeshiners, banjo players and newspaper delivery boys lined the docks in Queenstown as a re-enactment of the TSS Earnslaw's maiden 1912 voyage left the shores of Lake Wakatipu.

The oldest coal-fired passenger steamship in the southern hemisphere is celebrating 100 years with a week of centenary voyages.

Jack Robbie, 10, and Jakob Newell, 11, were the official shoeshiners as passengers boarded.

The actors are part of a large group hired to be different characters, including farmers, merchant bankers and policemen.

Mixed among them are crew and former staff.

Jim Young, who was invited as a special guest, was the ship's head engineer for 26 years.

Young, who travelled from Christchurch for today's cruise, said the boat was in better shape today than it was 50 years ago.

"Given sufficient money and resources, you can keep it going forever just about," he said.

The TSS Earnslaw, known as The Lady of the Lake, was commissioned in 1910 after increasing public apprehension about the existing lake steamers.

On October 18, 1912, the Earnslaw made its first official passenger voyage from Kingston to Queenstown.

In 1970, Fiordland Travel, now Real Journeys, committed to running the steamship in as close to original condition as possible.

These days it runs daily trips across Lake Wakatipu to the Walter Peak high-country resort, carrying more than 150,000 people every year.

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- The Press

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