SS Xantho (1848-1872)


WAM 30


This collection includes the engine from the SS Xantho which sank at Port Gregory in 1872 as well items relating to life of Charles Edward Broadhurst and his family.

Former paddle-steamer converted in Glasgow to screw propulsion using an ex -RN gunboat horizontal trunk engine designed by John Penn and Son for the Crimean war. The type were the first mass-produced, high-revolution, high-pressure engines made for use at sea. The schooner-rigged SS Xantho was purchased by Charles Edward Broadhurst, a Manchester-born entrepreneur, initially for use as a transport and mother vessel for pearling operations and for use as a 'tramp steamer'. Overloaded in lead ore from the Geraldine Mine Xantho sank at Port Gregory, Western Australia in November 1872. In 1983 the attempt to understand the anomalous features of the wreck led to the study of Broadhurst and the recovery of the engine from the wreck in 1985. The only known example of its type, the engine was successfully conserved by the Museum and it can now be turned over by hand. All its threads were found to be of the Whitworth Standard. Broadhurst joined his brother as 'squatters' at Kilmore near Melbourne and was involved in many colonial ventures in north-west Australia, including the Denison Plains Pastoral Company, pearling out of Nickol Bay and Shark Bay, fish canning, guano mining. He is now recognized as one of Western Australia's 100 most influential citizens of all time. Further studies highlighted his remarkably talented wife, the feminist Eliza Broadhurst and their suffragette daughter Katherine, one of the founders of the Karakatta Club which helped WA women obtain the vote ahead of most of the world. As a result the museum's exhibition on the SS Xantho is entitled 'Steamships to Suffragettes' focusing as much on the people involved (including the Broadhurst's) as it does on the engine and its conservation. Xantho impacted both visually and socially on indigenous groups who lived in the hinterland of Nickol Bay. Aboriginal rock carvings at Inthanoona Station inland from Cossack identified as the SS Xantho. Rock art at Walga Rock is also believed to depict the vessel.


Aboriginal art; Aboriginal peoples (Australians); Shipwreck artefacts; Shipwrecks; Vessels (watercraft)

Aboriginal art; Aboriginal peoples; Marine archaeology; Maritime history; Ships; Shipwrecks; Water transport

Broadhurst; Indigenous depictions; Maritime archaeology; Suffragette; Trunk engine

Charles Edward Broadhurst; Denison Plains Pastoral Company; Eliza Broadhurst; John Penn and Son; Karakatta Club; Katherine Broadhurst

Ships; Watercraft

Coverage Spatial

Port Gregory, Western Australia; Kilmore, Victoria; Nickol Bay; Inthanoona Station; Cossack; Walga Rock

Coverage Temporal



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