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Old Convict Hulk "Success" / photographer unknown
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Old Convict Hulk "Success" / photographer unknown
stereograph : b & w ; 9 x 17.7 cm.
The 'old convict hulk Success' was not a convict hulk but a very successful hoax. The ship was built in 1840, just as the convict system was coming to an end. She sailed on her first voyage to Australia in 1843 carrying emigrants to Fremantle. She made several further voyages to Australia carrying free emigrants before being bought by the Victorian government in 1852 and converted into a prison hulk with cells to accommodate 120 prisoners and moored off Williamstown in Port Phillip Bay. She served as a prison hulk until 1858, and subsequently as a reformatory and dormitory for boys, and then as an explosives hulk.
About 1890 the Success was sold to speculators who fitted her up as a convict ship with wax effigies of convicts and examples of prison paraphenalia such as whips and balls and chains. She was exhibited in Melbourne as a grim relic of the convict days before being towed to Sydney in 1891 and exhibited there for several months until a fire caused her to be towed to Berry's Bay on the north shore, where she sank. She was refloated and was then shown in Brisbane, Adelaide and New Zealand. In 1895 she was taken to England and was exhibited until 1912, when she was purchased by an American and moved to New York. She was displayed at various American ports until the shortage of cargo ships in World War I caused her to be fitted with an engine and converted for cargo work in 1917. She was sunk by ice in the Ohio River, but was raised again and once more resumed her old job as an exhibition ship. She was shown all around the coastal areas of America, and was a star attraction at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. During World War II she was laid up on Lake Erie. In 1946 fire broke out on board and she was burned to the waterline and sank. [reference: Neil Radford: 'The convict ship 'Success": a very successful hoax" August 2012]
Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection ; CSL&RC PIC : small picture file : stereographs
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