Paddling on at 80 – PS Lepcha of 1938

Eric Yeoh of Penang, Malaysia, has kindly provided a selection of pictures of Lepcha which operates in Bangladesh. The vessel was originally a steamer but was converted to diesel in 1983. 

Eric boarded the ‘Rocket’ service at Bagerhat and travelled overnight to Dhaka, calling at Barisal and Chandpur on route. The ship was originally built by William Denny & Bros, Dumbarton. She was first owned by the River Steam Navigation Co. but has witnessed several changes of ownership over her 80 year career.

Lepcha is one of four 'Rocket' paddle wheel vessels, she is 190 feet in length.

Some basic details of the vessel which are displayed on board. As can be seen Lepcha offers first, second and third class accommodation.

Lepcha operating on the 'Rocket' service.

A paddle wheel shot. The paddle wheel carries 8 floats.

The diesel plant aboard Lepcha which was fitted in 1983.

Passengers on board Lepcha.

A well stocked stall on board the elderly vessel.

Additional information kindly supplied by Stuart Cameron.

PS Lepcha was built by the Dumbation-based firm of William Denny & Brothers, being their Yard Number 1318. As she was shipped to India in parts no launch date is given. Her length as built is given as 190.0 feet with a breadth of 25.0 feet.

As originally built she had a triple expansion steam reciprocating engine, built by Denny & Co, in which the cylinder diameters were 18, 25.5 and 41 inches. The stroke of the engine was 54 inches. She was fitted with a single-ended Scotch boiler supplied by James Howden & Company from their Scotland Street Works in Glasgow. The Engine Number of the steam engine was 1073.

PS Lepcha was originally built for the Rivers Navigation Company of Calcutta, India. In 1959 she was sold to Pakistan River Steamers Ltd who retained her until 1972 when her ownership was changed to Bangladesh River Steamers Ltd. At a later date ownership changed to Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation.

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