#TheLastGrainRace 19


To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the last great square rigged sailing ship, Abraham Rydberg. That docked in Ipswich to discharge her cargo of 3750 tons of Australian wheat in June 1939 shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.


The so called Grain Races took place mainly between the two World Wars when the only trade left to the last of the great steel square rigged ships was in the carriage of wheat from Spencer Gulf near Adelaide in South Australia to ports in the UK or near continent. The ship that covered the distance in the shortest time was deemed to be the winner of that years’ race.


The window features a map of the world showing the route the ships followed using the Trade Winds sailing out from Europe in the autumn and returning the following summer. The backdrop shows Abraham Rydberg towing through the lock and discharging into sailing barges in the wet dock. Models of the barque Lady Helen, the five mast barque Potosi and the four mast barque Herzogin Cecilie give some idea of the complex rigging of these vessels. Panels tell the history of the Abraham Rydberg, Potosi, Pommern, Herzogin Cecilie and many more of the ships that discharged in Ipswich in the 1930’s with their photographs. Other large photographs show Pommern discharging and a crew member on the yardarm of Moshulu under way in the Southern Ocean. The story of the Grain Races is told with mention of the importance of Buttermans Bay in the lightening of ships before they could enter the Wet Dock to complete unloading.


A model of the 4 masted Barque the Herzogin Cecilie is displayed with a brightly painted white hull, it was kindly donated by the National Maritime Museum. Herzogin Cecilie was the most triumphant vessel during the Grain Races recording 6 victories.


  • Model of Potosi on loan from Giles Large
  • Model of Lady Helen on loan from The Nottage Institute
  • Model of Herzogin Cecilie from IMT Collection
  • World Map designed and built by Colin Waters and Ben Bendall
  • House Flags made by Pam Glasspool
  • Photographs from IMT Image Archive and the Richard Smith Collection sourced by Stuart Grimwade
  • Photograph of Moshulu from Learning the Ropes by Eric Newby
  • Text and Panels by Doug Nicholls and Richard Watkinson


Des Pawson, Doug Nicholls, Richard Watkinson, Stuart Harris, Pam Glasspool, Stuart Grimwade, Ben Bendall, Colin Waters