Paddle Steamer Celebrates 150 Anniversary

By Keith Henderson at August 30, 2011 17:25
Filed Under: General

It was the year of 1861 when a Danish paper factory owner commissioned the good ship Hjejlen
to be built by Baumgarten & Burmeister in Copenhagen, the predecessors of world famous Burmeister & Wain (B & W). The ship, a coal fired paddle steamer with yard number 15 was only the second steamship to be built by the yard, her dimensions were LOA 84 ft (25.7 m), beam 12.5 ft (3.8 m) and draft 5.6 ft (1.7 m).

PS Hjejlen on her maiden voyage, sailing across the Kattegat on her way to Silkeborg. Reproduced in Illustrated Journal 16th June 1861

Image credit: Hjejlen ApS

On 11 June 1861 her maiden voyage from the Copenhagen builders across open sea commenced. Her destination and service for the next 150 years would be to carry passengers on the picturesque freshwater Silkeborg Lakes in central Jutland, Denmark. Connecting the lakes with the sea, the ship had to negoitiate the shallow Guden River and this required stripping the vessels of all unnecessary weight. To overcome the final hurdle, the ship had to be pulled over an embankment using rollers.

Hjejlen still has her original steam engine that continues to perform as well as the day it was built. After 86 years loyal service however, a fault did appear with the crankshaft that required replacing. Other than that the twin cylinder single expansion engine with oscillating cylinders of 260 mm bore and 420 mm stroke continues to produce 24 hp (18 kW) at 116 psi (8 Bar), propelling the ship up to 8 kn. The hand stoked, coal boiler consumes about three quarters of a ton of coal per day, sufficient for around 8 hours steaming, but does requires firing to be started up to five hours before departure.

The Hjejlen is now the world’s oldest paddle steamer and is still carrying passenger on the Silkeborg Lakes from May through September.

Now the world’s oldest paddle steamer, PS Hjejlen is still cruising the Silkeborg Lakes from May through September.
Image credit: Hjejlen ApS

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