The Thornycroft Torpedo Boat Museum

Opening hours:
Summer: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday 1pm - 3pm
Winter: Saturday Sunday 1 - 3pm

A 36 minute documentary film is shown on request

The film sets out the political context of the Russian scare as it affected New Zealand and Australia and relates the history of torpedo boats in general with specific regard to No.168. It displays historic photographs of the vessel, her crews, exercises and shows graphics of how the spar operated. The 1999 recovery of the Torpedo boat and its subsequent restoration as well as the general history of Magazine Bay as a military reserve are also covered.

The Thornycroft Torpedo Boat Museum

As well as the partly re-constructed bow and stern of the Lyttelton torpedo boat, the museum features a scale model of the vessel and an example of the steam engine that once powered it; in pristine working order obtained from one of its long scrapped sister ships.

Thornycroft Torpedo Boat No.168 - A brief  History

One of four Torpedo boats purchased by the NZ Government in 1883 in response to the possibility of an invasion by Russian forces.

1883 Built in Chiswick, London by John I Thornycroft & Co
1884 Commissioned at Lyttelton.
1899 Decommissioned and sold.
1900 Towed to Purau.
1909 Pulled into sandhills by Mount Herbert County Council traction engine and broken in two.
1958 Remains Buried.
1999 Excavated and remains conserved for display.

Particulars of No 168 -Thornycroft Spar Torpedo Boat

Length 63'
Beam 7'6"
Draught 3'4"
Crew 5
Armaments 30' Spar torpedo
35lbs gun cotton charge
Hull Constructed of 1/16inch galvanised high tensile steel.
Powered By Coal fired steam engine giving a maximum speed of 17.5 knots; 650rpm
All Dimensions are in Feet / Inches



The Thornycroft Torpedo Boat Museum

Housed in the category 1 powder magazine building (1874) at Magazine Bay, Lyttelton, this museum primarily exhibits the remains of Thornycroft Torpedo Boat No. 168.

Magazine Bay is situated within a former 5 acre Military Reserve, which was gazetted in 1885 at the time of Russian expansionist threats in the Pacific. The torpedo boat formed part of the coastal defence system for Lyttelton Harbour which included strategically placed gun batteries.

The gun emplacement at Fort Erskine above Magazine Bay
A gun was established on the headland above the magazine building. A slipway and shed for the torpedo boat was built in the bay and also caretaker's and gunner's cottages. The reserve reverted to local Council control in 1984. Interpretative signs are provided.
The sandy beach and reserve are popular places for swimming and picnics in summer and the area has good all season walking tracks.

Adult: $5.00 / Child: $1 / Family Group maximum $10
Group Tours: - by arrangement, refer to the Lyttelton Information Centre

Lyttelton Information Centre

20 Oxford Street
Lyttelton 8082
Phone: 328 9093
Open 9am-5pm daily