San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park
Lower Fort Mason, Bldg. E
San Francisco, CA 94123
WELCOME to Eppleton
The Eppleton Hall is a steel tug built in 1914 in England,
and powered by two steam engines.
- Length: 100.6 feet
- Beam: 21.1 feet
- Depth: 10.8 feet
- Gross tonnage: 166
- Engines: 2-sided lever
The Eppleton Hall was built in 1914 in an English Shipyard
She is a steam-powered sidewheeler (a paddle wheel on each side
of the ship)
Her two large side lever engines, also called grasshopper
engines, operated the paddle wheels independently
She towed coal barges (colliers) on the River Wear
A working crew consisted of a skipper, mate, engineer, fireman
and an apprentice
In 1969-70 she made an epic six month journey steaming from
England through the Panama Canal to San Francisco
Eppleton Hall History
Eppleton Hall was built in 1914 by the Hepple and Company of
South Shields, England, for the Lambton and Hetton Collieries, Ltd.
The vessel, named after the Lambton family's ancestral home, was
designed to tow ocean-going colliers (coal-carrying vessels) to and
from the port of Newcastle on the River Tyne.
Coal was a booming business, and days of transit time were saved
by towing the sailing vessels upriver to load. The vessel was also
used to tow newly-built ships out to sea.
Eppleton Hall, a steam sidewheeler with side-lever engines,
is the only remaining intact example of a Tyne paddle tug. A direct
descendent of the first craft to go into commercial service as
harbor tugs, the vessel was engaged on the Wear and Tyne rivers of
northeast England from 1914-1967.
In 1946, she was purchased by France Fenwick, Wear and Tyne Ltd.,
which operated her in the Wear River until 1964 (she is being
restored to this period today).
The Eppleton Hall's steam engines are descended from a
type first developed in England in 1828. The two large side lever
engines, often referred to as grasshopper engines, operate the
paddle wheels independently, making the tug especially maneuverable
in tight spots.
Another unusual feature of the Eppleton Hall are its
hand-forged boilers designed to use seawater. Every six weeks the
accumulated salt had to be chiped out of the boilers and rinsed
away. The advantage was that large freshwater tanks did not have to
In 1952, the tug was modified slightly to obtain a Passenger
Certificate, so that she could transport officials from
newly-launched steamers. Her last commerial owner was the Seaham
Harbour Dock Board, which operated her from 1964 to 1967.
She was sold for scrap in 1967 and, while sitting on a mud bank,
fire, (part of the scrapping process) destroyed her wooden afterdeck
and interior. From 1969-1979 Eppleton Hall served as a
private yacht, during which time she was modified for an epic steam
(via the Panama Canal) to San Francisco, passing through the Golden
Gate in March of 1970.
The vessel was donated to the National Park Service in 1979. She
is now berthed at Hyde Street Pier.
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