Creating a 3D Model of Edwin Fox, a very old merchant ship
The Edwin Fox is likely the oldest surviving merchant ship in the world. We are creating a high resolution 3D digital model of the ship
About this project
The Edwin Fox Project
- Bringing an old ship back to life
3D modelling is the ideal technique for safeguarding important artefacts. We can preserve their external visual appearance and accurate dimensions, allowing for reconstruction through both traditional and high tech methods.
The possibilities for collaboration, re-creation and advanced study are limitless. Artefacts can be recreated for display around the world while being kept safe in storage. Students can see and explore items in greater detail than they would from behind a glass barrier. Creators can return items to life through digital re-enactment. The potential to deepen our understanding of the past is limitless, and your donation will be part of making that happen!
We are using cutting-edge technology to literally turn back the clock of time for the Edwin Fox, the oldest surviving merchant ship that transported both passengers and cargo throughout the world.
On the 16th December 2016 the 3D Scans team effectively shielded the Edwin Fox from the ravages of time by completing a 3 dimensional digital scan of the vessel using laser scanning supplemented by over 7700 digital photographs.
We now need your help to complete this process by creating a digital alter-ego of the vessel using the above data.
We have contributed in excess of 10 000 NZ$ and 600 man hours to date and the creation of a very high resolution digital 3D model is about halfway to completion.
For detailed images of progress to date please see our video above. Our extended goal is to actually turn back the clock by digitally restoring the vessel to its original sailing state using state of the art CGI, VFX and VR techniques.
- Digital Preservation – Saving our Past to Enrich the Future
With every passing year, the world’s physical history is decaying. Museums around the world strive to preserve the past, but they can only do so much. By digitally preserving the Edwin Fox, we aim to demonstrate how today’s cutting edge technology is an essential tool for preserving, restoring and studying the rich relics of human history,
After being abandoned and almost lost to the elements, an epic effort saved the physical remains of the vessel, but it is again at risk, this time by natural disaster in the form of a devastating earthquake. It is ironic that she survived all the mighty ocean forces unleashed on her and the subsequent neglect only to be once more threatened in her final resting place.
Our ultimate goal is to build the capacity within New Zealand to provide a comprehensive scanning service to museums and other institutions in this country. The ambition is to establish New Zealand as a world player in this practice, and build a specialised industry around it. However, the first step is the successful completion of the Edwin Fox preservation project, which relies on the help of generous donors such as yourself.
A few links to interesting articles relating to the use of 3D models in heritage preservation follows at the end.
- Why the Edwin Fox – A ship with a rich history
Currently in dry dock at the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum at Picton, New Zealand, the Edwin Fox is a vessel of great international cultural and historical value. 48 metres long, with a 9 metre beam, she has played a role in significant international events. The sturdy vessel plied the seas for decades and worked tirelessly, before being abandoned to a slow demise.
Originally launched from Sulkea, India in 1853 by shipbuilder Thomas Reeves, her maiden voyage with 10 passengers and general cargo was to England.
In 1854 she was commandeered as a troop transport for the Crimean War. On her first troop voyage, after being waved off by Napoleon Bonaparte, she carried 15 officers and 481 men from Calais to Bomarsund in the Baltic Sea. It was on one of her return voyages in this conflict that the Edwin Fox likely carried the Lady with the Lamp herself, Florence Nightingale.
Following the war, she was refitted to carry general cargo and passengers in 1856.
The Edwin Fox is the only surviving ship that transported convicts to Australia and settlers to Australia and New Zealand.
Records show she left Gravesend, England, on 11 August 1858 bound for Australia. She carried 280 prisoners, 67 prison guards and their families and, upon arrival at the Swan River in Australia on 22 November, she had added 3 babies, born to wives of the guards.
She was also at times known as a ‘booze barge’. On 14 February 1860 she set sail from London, carrying a general cargo to Bombay which included a substantial quantity of Taylor Walker’s India Pale Ale.
Later in life, she carried early migrants to New Zealand. The Edwin Fox departed London’s Blackwall Depot on 25 January 1873 with 95 passengers bound for Otago and a similar number bound for Canterbury. A severe storm forced her to lay over in Brest, France, where 23 passengers decided they were done with ocean travel. She eventually arrived in Lyttelton Harbour on 27 June 1873.
With the advent of steam and the decline of sail, the Edwin Fox was converted to a refrigeration vessel in London. From 1885 she served in many ports as a refrigeration vessel before she was finally towed to Picton in January 1897. Here she served for 3 years, setting a new record by freezing 12000 export carcasses in 43 days.
Upon the completion of a freezing works just west of Picton, she was stripped of the refrigeration plant and turned into a coal hulk to store coal for the new works. She served in this role for the next 50 years and was finally de-registered on 29 October 1953.
The Edwin Fox Restoration Society was formed in May 1965. Their initial campaign to have the vessel restored ultimately failed but they were the driving force behind a local effort to have her cleaned out, re-floated and finally towed to Shakespeare Bay where she remained for 19 years and was effectively shipwrecked.
In 1980, volunteers managed to re-float and tow her into Picton Harbour where a mooring was found. The current Edwin Fox Museum was opened in 1990 facilitated by grants of $50 000 from both the NZ Government as well as the Picton Pakeke Lions. In 1993 the centre won an award for Historic/Cultural/Arts and Crafts Visitor attraction and attracts around 10 000 visitors a year. More recently the Museum has won the World Ship Trust Award and been highly commended in the Westpac Marlborough Chamber of Commerce ‘Adding Value to Marlborough’ Award. It also received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence every year since 2012.
All efforts to rebuild the vessel eventually petered out and there was concern that she would not stay afloat indefinitely. On the 18 May 1999 the Edwin Fox was pushed into a custom built dry-dock with financial assistance from various sources such as The Lotteries Board, Marlborough District Council, Canterbury Community Trust, Port Marlborough and the Picton Lions.
- Benefits of 3D Modelling
The possibilities for collaboration, re-creation and advanced study are limitless. Artefacts can be recreated for display around the world while being kept safe in storage. Students can see and explore items in greater detail than they would from behind a glass barrier. Creators can return items to life through digital re-enactment.
- The November 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake
Photo credit Geoff Lang The seabed lifted by about a meter in Kaikoura after the earthquake.
- The Edwin Fox Pictorial history
The Fox lashed to a steamer unloading frozen carcasses.
Costley, N. (2014). Teak and tide : the ebbs and eddies of the Edwin Fox : from the Ganges to Picton, New Zealand : the changing fortunes of the last surviving 19th century merchantman. Nelson, New Zealand: Nikau Press.
Contribution by Mark Easterbrook @ http://www.easterbrook.co.nz
Risks and challenges
The vessel was scanned in December 2016 resulting in high quality digital data collected. Approximately 50% of the work has already been done to complete the model and if our funding goal is reached there is no risk to completion on due date as we would be able to dedicate resources to this task.
Some of the awards are 3D printed by specialists from our data and there could be minor production delays affecting delivery times of these awards.