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The Timaru Disasters.

That the disaster of yesterday, following so quickly that of the preceding week, will gain the port of Timaru an unenviable notoriety in the shipping and maritime trade, is self evident. Only a short time back one of the best constructed of vessels (the City of Cashmere) was wrecked during beautiful weather and in broad daylight; her valuable cargo was completely spoilt, and about LIOO worth of fittings and gear only saved. This loss, we believe, could have been averted had a tug boat of sufficient power been stationed in the roadstead. As it happened there was nothing of the kind; the Harbour Board were taught the lesson, and one would naturally have thought that before anything else was done, in order to maintain the facilities of the port and its safely to vessels’ trading there, a steam tug would have been provided. The terrible consequences of the dilatoriness of the Harbor Board in this matter are now, we are sorry to say, fully exemplified. Yesterday two noble ships, during a heavy swell, parted their cables, and in a short time were wrecked, and—worst of all—a terrible oss of life has, in this instance, to be added to the loss of property. The ships Benvenue and City of Perth are now wrecked, and some seven lives are lost, amongst them some brave sailors and watermen, not the least brave amongst them being the Harbor Master, Mr Mills, who died from exhaustion shortly after coming ashore. This intrepid sailor and faithful public servant did his duty to the last, determined, no doubt, that no personal risk should prevent him from doing everything in his power to save life and property, in the interests of the port, and to show the public that he did not shirk his duty even at the peril of his life. In this determination it must be mentioned that Captain Mills did not act in a foolhardy manner, but doubtless he thought that certain imputations were hanging over him still, and Ins reputation as a man and an officer were at stake, and come what might, no chance should be given to the Board to impute blame to him on this occasion. For the friends of the other brave fellows who lost their lives during yesterday in their gallant attempt to rescue their comrades, we have to record outdeepest sympathy. They, like the Harbor Master, died in the interests of their port, as four out of the six belonged to Timaru. Sad indeed are all the circumstances connected with the event of yesterday, when we consider the causes. Property has been wrecked at Timaru to the tune of 1.50,000 during the first six months of this year, through, it is said, the bad management of the Harbor Board. This body has been again and again warned of the consequences likely to ensue if a steam tug was not obtained for the port, or a quicker despatch given to the vessels trading in such a dangerous roadstead. But, deaf to all remonstrances and warnings, the members of the Timaru

Harbor Board sought to shield themselves by paltry excuses, such as “ want of nerve ” on the part of their Harbor Master, or unseaworthiness of the vessels wrecked. '1 hese theories are in themselves as rotten as the Harbor Board has proved itself to be. We shall predict a total wreck of the Board as the next providential work, for we can see no earthly reason why they should remain in office any longer, to increase the danger of what should be a comparatively safe port. The Timaru Herald says that “it is comforting to know that they (the Board) will soon be relieved of all their troubles, for the simple reason that before long there will be no shipping here to trouble them. The third large English ship wrecked here this season went ashore calmly and comfortably yesterday, not suddenly or through special stress of weather, but solely through the want of proper provision for the security of vessels in the roadstead." We quite agree with our contemporary that the loss of these large ships in the course of a for.night is quite enough to stop all shipping of any consequence to Timaru for some time. The tact is that the poit has been ruined, and the people of Timaru are alone to blame in the matter. They have a public body called a Harbor Board to carry out the business of the shipping in its most important bearings, and if they do not do so, who can remedy it ? Evidently the Timaru people want an agitation of some kind to liven them up, as a simple grumble or a growl will hardly effect a change of management in their Harbor Board, nor will they bring trade lo their port after the disasters of yesterday.

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Bibliographic details

The Timaru Disasters., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 636, 15 May 1882

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The Timaru Disasters. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 636, 15 May 1882

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