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Eppleton Hall

The Eppleton Hall is a paddle wheel tugboat built in England in 1914. This is the only remaining intact example of a River Tyne paddle tug. She is one of only 2 surviving British-built paddle tugs (the other being John H. Amos), and is currently preserved at the San Francisco Maritime Historical National Park in California. O.J. is based on the Eppleton Hall.


Eppleton Hall was built in 1914 by Hepple and Company of South Shields, for the Lambton and Hetton Collieries Ltd. She was designed to tow seagoing colliers from sea to wharf and back again. The tug started operation in 1914 by the Lambton & Hetton Collieries Ltd, which later merged with the Joicey Collieries in 1924 to form the Lambton, Hetton & Joicey Collieries Ltd. In 1952, she obtained a passenger certificate so she could transport officials after sea trials.

In November 1964, France, Fenwick Tyne & Wear disposed of their last paddle tugs, Houghton and Eppleton Hall. The latter was sold to the Seaham Harbour Dock Company, where she worked alongside Reliant. Eppleton was then sold to Clayton and Davie Ltd, a shipbreaker company, for scrap in 1967. Her wooden afterdeck and interior were destroyed due to part of the scrapping process. She was left sitting on a mud bank in Dunston and remained there for two years.

News of the sale of the last steam paddle tug still in service anywhere in the world, the Reliant, reached Karl Kortum, then director of the San Francisco Maritime Museum. Kortum informed museum trustee Scott Newhall, who proceeded to Newcastle to purchase the ship. Rebuilt at Bill Quay in 1969, the tug was modified with modern navigational aids, radio, a new wheelhouse and was converted from coal to diesel oil. On September 18th, 1969, the tug sailed to San Francisco and passed by the Panama Canal and the Golden Gate bridge.

Newhall subsequently wrote the book The Eppleton Hall. It tells the story of both the discovery and restoration of the ship, the events surrounding Reliant, and the eleven thousand mile journey from the Tyne to San Francisco.

In 1979, Kortum donated Eppleton Hall to the National Park Service. She is now stationed at Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco and has been restored to resemble her 1946 post-War condition.


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