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NEW ZEALAND’S OLDEST

This is the oldest steam engine in New Zealand, built in 1869, and purchased by Colin Stevenson in the early 1970s. The Wellington Patent slip was constructed between 1871 and 1873. It has an interesting history. There are at least two versions of its origin - traditional and factual. The traditional relates to the engineer de Lesseps and the Panama Canal. The Suez Canal was nearing completion in 1869. De Lesseps and ship owners in England were aware that a canal at Panama would make the route between England and New Zealand much shorter. They proposed to build a fleet of steam ships to carry a mail service between England and New Zealand. The steamers were to be of 2000 tons, and fitted with sails in the event of engine failure. In NZ it would be desirable to have easy access to a slipway to carry out any necessary repairs. This does not agree with the historical records, and probably the correct version is contained in the reports of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

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