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Frederic Logghe
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Success


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The full rigged ship Success is best known as a travelling museum purporting to represent the horrors of penal transportation in Great Britain and the United States of America between the 1890s and the 1930s.

The Success was a former merchant ship of 621 tons, 117 feet 3 inches x 26 feet 8 inches x 22 feet 5 inches depth of hold, built in Natmoo, Tenasserim, Burma in 1840. After initially trading around the Indian subcontinent, she was sold to London owners and made three voyages with emigrants to Australia during the 1840s

On 31 May 1852 the Success arrived at Melbourne with emigrants, and the crew deserted to the gold-fields, this being the height of the Victorian gold rush. Due to an increase in crime, prisons were overflowing and the Government of Victoria purchased large sailing ships to be employed as prison hulks. These included the Success, Deborah, Sacramento and President. In 1857 prisoners from the Success murdered the Superintendent of Prisons John Price, the inspiration for the character Maurice Frere in Marcus Clarke's novel For the Term of His Natural Life.

When no longer needed as a prison ship as such, the Success was used as a detention vessel for runaway seamen and later as an explosives hulk.

When the Victorian Government decided to sell the last of its redundant hulks, Success was purchased by a group of entrepreneurs to be refitted as a museum ship to travel the world advertising the perceived horrors of the convict era. Although never a convict ship, the Success was billed as one, her earlier history being amalgamated with those other ships of the same name including HMS Success that had been used in the original European settlement of Western Australia. This may have led to the claim that she was launched in 1790. In any event, she was promoted as the oldest ship afloat ahead of the 1797 USS Constitution.[1]

A former prisoner, bushranger Harry Power, was employed as a guide. The initial display in Sydney was not a commercial success, and the vessel was laid up and sank at her moorings in 1892. She was then sold to a second group with more ambitious plans.

After a thorough refit the Success toured Australian ports and then headed for England, arriving at Dungeness on 12 September 1895 and was exhibited in many ports over several years. In 1912 she crossed the Atlantic and spent more than two decades doing the same thing around the eastern seaboard of the United States of America and later in ports on the Great Lakes. In 1918 she was briefly returned to commercial service with an auxiliary engine being fitted, but sank after being holed by ice. The Success was again refloated and returned to use as a travelling museum ship. Her presence in the United States caused acute embarrassment to many people in Australia ashamed of the convict stain, but calls to have the Australian Government purchase the ship and have it destroyed were not acted upon.

The Success fell into disrepair during the late 1930s and was destroyed by fire at Lake Erie Cove, Cleveland, Ohio, while being dismantled for her teak on 4 July 1946. (Source: WIkipedia)

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