The DERWENT was a great example of a big full rigged ship. She had great sea-going qualities, good speed and an ample carrying ability. She worked the Sydney trade for twenty years for her owners, Messrs. Devitt & Moore. She was built by McMillan, of Dumbarton in 1884. As a general rule during these twenty years, she carried general cargo and a few passengers to Sydney and wool back to London.

Her statistics were as follows: Tonnage - 1,970 tons gross; 275 feet in length; 40 feet 2 inches breadth; 23 feet 7 inches depth. During the twenty years, her heaviest general cargo was 3,845 tons and she loaded about 8,000 bales of wool for her return trips. Captain J. R. Andrews supervised her building and commanded the ship for the first ten years of her life. Due to his supervision of the construction, this ship had many new innovations. She was the first ship to cross steel topgallant yards and adopted rigging screws instead of deadeyes. She had a donkey boiler with winch barrels, a messenger connecting with the windlass, and a condenser of the latest type. She did not differ in appearance from the regular Clyde type of her date but she was a London ship and as such was run in true Blackwall fashion. Her crew always took a special pride in the painting of her fully carved lion figurehead with a great yellow main. She carried a crew of captain, three certified mates, eight midshipmen or cadets, twelve apprentices, bosun, sail maker, carpenter, donkey man, and fourteen hands in the fo’c’sle.

The start of her career was not very good. She was sent from Glasgow on Christmas Eve and wound up anchoring in the worst of weather at the Tail of the Bank. She promptly dragged her anchors and the crew refused to do their duty! Captain Andrews could not be stopped by crew or weather and the DERWENT got underway three times, all three resulting in passing Tory Island and then being driven back. She was at last forced to shelter in Queenstown, where the men who refused duty were given sentences of from one to three months imprisonment. She finally left Queenstown on January 14, 1885 and reached Sydney on April 17, 93 days out with no trouble. Her return passage was also not to great, taking 111 days to get home. She was never one of the crack wool clipper ships of her day, but she was always very steady. She was also a favorite ship with the shippers due to the perfect way in which she was operated and the splendid state in which her cargoes were delivered - and she was never very far behind the crack clippers - she always made the January sales.

Her best wool passage was 79 days in 1892-3. She had many other creditable runs - in 1897 DERWENT reached port on the same day as the very fast THESSALUS, although she had left Sydney five days earlier. Her best outward passage was 69 days to Port Phillip in 1892. Captain Andrews commanded until 1897 and kept her almost totally free of accidents. The most serious accident and the only one worth mentioning was when DERWENT was on her way down channel in May of 1897 and was involved in a collision with a French trawler, which forced her to put into Plymouth for repairs to her bows and starboard side.

Captain Andrews was succeeded in turn by Captains W. W. Smith, H. de C. Wetherall and H. N. Forbes, the last of whom had her until she was sold to Chr. Nielson & Co. of Larvik, Norway, in 1904. The DERWENT survived the first world war and continued to carry cargo into the early 1920’s. In 1925 she shipped guano at Lobos de Tierra. Leaving Callao on July 3rd, she reached the island at noon on the 7th, where she loaded for Charleston, South Carolina.

She began her last passage under sail on August 31st. She proceeded by way of the Panama Canal, arriving in Charleston on October 10th, 1925. She could not pick up a cargo at this port and had little prospect of making her way financially in the future. Therefore, her owners reluctantly sold her to a Charleston firm for the sum of $10, 250.00 and the ship was stripped and converted into a barge for coastal use.