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San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

Eppleton Hall - San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park - BEST Places to Picnic

Lower Fort Mason, Bldg. E
San Francisco, CA 94123

Phone
Visitor Information
(415) 447-5000
Administration
(415) 561-7000

WELCOME to Eppleton Hall

The Eppleton Hall is a steel tug built in 1914 in England, and powered by two steam engines.

STATS

  • 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 carried aboard.

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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