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ANCIENT WRECKS.

THE GREATEST SHIPPING DISASTER INNEW ZEALAND

TOTAL LOSS OF THE STEAMER

CITY OF DUNEDIN

The recent wreck of tho Union Steamship Company's old and useful screw-steamer Penguin recalls to memory the terrible calamity which befel the Dunectin-owned paddlesteamer City of Dunedin, it was supposed, in or about the locality in Cook Strait where lies tho hull, or so : much of it as is now left, of the Penguin. It happened in tho year 1865, at the time and at the height of the rush to the newly-cliscovered goldfields .on the West Coast of the South Island. - Though not attended with such painful scenes and heart-rending Jesuits which the passengers and crews and their relatives and friends experienced by the wrecks of the steamers Penguin, Tararua, Wairarapa, and others we may mention in New Zealand waters, the little steamer City of Dunedin—originally brought out from Glasgow for use as a ferry steamer in Dunedin harbour—is said to have had on board when she left Wellington for Nelson and Hokitika four to six hundred passengers, and, whether she struck a rock and foundered, or blew up, not a soul escaped to tell the story of what did really happen to her: neither was there a single body gashed ashore! Hence no inquest .. v could h& held; and, as the hull of the vessel was nerer found or located, there was consequently no inquiry into the cause of her disappearance. , Who could give evidence in either case? Nevertheless, it occasioned, without doubt, the most appalling loss of human life which has ever occurred •in New Zealand or Australian waters; and; eclipsed even in this respect the loss of , life which resulted by the wreck and foundering respectively at sea of two of the most noted of Australian passenger ships, the Royal Charter and the London, both many years ago. t. The p.s. City of Dunedin, 327 tons, j. P. Boyd, master, left Dunedin for 'Lyttelton and Wellington on the 15th May, 1865, with the object, principally, of conveying as many prospectors, miners, speculators, and others as practicable, who were eager to reach ■ the new El Dorado at Hokitika, on the West Coast, in the shortest possible time. She arrived at Lyttelton on tfie 17th, and sailed the same day, ' reaching Wellington on the 18th. A few cabin passengers had booked at Dunedin and Lyttelton to proceed by iher to Wellington, Nelson, and Hokitika; but as voyagers were in the ! habit in those days of going on board coasting steamers without boolfcag themselves at the agents' office, it was ■ not possible to ascertain the actual number who went on board at the various ports of call, so it could only be known, as in the case of other ferry boats, by the captain or steward of the vessel. At Wellington the boat was literally rushed by passengers; I an eye-witness states that "the people went on board like flocks of sheep." ' Other living witnesses estimate the number on board to have been "250 to 280,"' "400," and the late Mr Thomas Dwan, sen.,' proprietor and editor of the Wellington Weekly Press, replying on April 21st. 1888, to a correspondent, ■ stated: "Six hundred passengers were on board, none of whom were ever heard of." On Saturday, 20th May, at four o'clock in the afternoon—the time given by. the agents, Messrs Bethune ' and Hunter—the City, of Dunedin took her departure from the Queen's Wharf, Wellington j for Nelson and Hokitika, the captain stating that he ' 'intended having his Sunday dinner in Nelson." "It was fine when she left," the agents state, "the little wind that there was being from the south-east; but there was a heavy swell, also from the south-east, in the Strait." The boat never reached Nelson, and the steamers Wellington, and Tararua, which respectively arrived at Wellington from Nelson on the Tuesday and Wednesday following, reported having seen nothing of her. There was', no cable or telegraphic communication between the various ports in Cook Strait at that time. The first intimation of the supposed wreck of the City of Dunedin was given by Pilot Davis, of Wellington, who reported on Monday, 22nd May, that he had picked up a quantity of , timber on the beach supposed to be part of a skylight of a vessel. About 200 yards from the Pilot Station (Wellington Heads) he found a desk, smashed open, and lying beside it a letter, written eight years previously, signed "T. Ryan," also part of a I bulk-head. Another account stated \ the letter was signed "T. Keogh." \ 'As a green cushion and some small fragments of maple-coloured cabin fittings were also picked up near Sinclair Head, at the instance of Messrs * Bethune and Hunter, Wellington ■ agents for the ship, Captain Blair, of . the Sea Serpent, Captain Campbell, of the Esther, and. Alex. Weir, the master of another coaster, who had been second officer of the City of Dunedin for more than nine months, searched the coast from the Heads around by Terawhiti. They reported having found a binnacle, a skylight, and a boat rudder. Mr Weir recognised these three articles as belonging to the City of Dunedin. Captains Blair and Campbell were of opinion, that the City of Dunedin had struck one of the outlying rocks off the Heads or off Cape Terawhiti. ■A day or two afterwards other portions of a wreck were washed up on the same beach,, and a half cask of pitch was discovered, addressed {on a parchment label) to the captain of ' the steamer Favourite, Hokitika. A ,Mr McGill, the owner of the Favourite, stated that he himself had shipped the pitch on board the City of i Dunedin, at Dunedin. This was re- ! garded at the time as the most conclusive proof of the loss of the illfated vessel. Mr P. R. Russell, a settler, also 'wrote stating that a quantity of ■wreckage had been washed ashore in Pallisef Bay, amongst which was the figure-head of a vessel, which he described as being a bust of a female, painted Jwhite, with a gilt rural crpwn on her head, her hand resting on a : shield painted blue. Other articles j consisted of some staging. j On Tuesday, 30th May, Captain ! Holliday, harbour master, Welling- ! ton, proceeded in the schooner Sarah to the Heads. On arrival there he obtained the pilot's boat, and proceeded in the direction of Terawhiti, and went within a mile of that place. Between Island Bay and Sinclair Head some cabin fittings, painted stone-colour, and a deal plank 20ft. long, used by steamers as a gangway, and other planks were found; but, westward of Sinclair Head, he reported, there was no sign of wreck of any kind. The majority of the relics of the wreck were found between the JPilot Station and Sinclair Head. The late Mrs John Dunn—a sister

of Mr James McMenamen (who lately rendered such valuable relief and. assistance to the passengers and crew of the Penguin who were fortunate enough to reach the shore alive)—left Wellington on horseback on the same day that the City of Dunedin sailed from Wellington, and rode round the coast-to her home at Terawhiti. She saw a steamer, apparently in distress, and, shortly afterwards, it disappeared from view. Reference similar to the foregoing statement was made in the of Representatives in the month of September following, when. Major (after--I\vards Sir John) Richardson, in reply to a question, said that ue received information that a young girl, living at Terawhiti, had seen a steamer near the 'Karori Rock on the very night that the City of Dunedin left Wellington, and apparently the steamer was in great distress, the crew running about as if in great difficulties. There appeared very strong evidence, it must be admitted, which led to the supposition that the City of Dunedin met with her end near the Karori Rock, There were two instances of persons having stated that they had seen a steamer in very great dis-» tress." _ _ •■•■■■■•,: Mr Philip Jenkins, a retired, mariner now living in Wellington, in reply to interrogations, states:—"l had a fore-and-aft schooner named Kate, 27 tons, running at that time, occasionally to the Wairau and sometimes to the Manawatu River. I sailed through Wellington Jtieads on Saturday, 20th May, 1865, bound for the Wairau River., The City of Dunedin l passed <me off Sinclair Head. The night was fine and clear;'the moon did not rise till very late at, night. There was a little wind, from the south-east: I wished the.re had been more.. Shortly after the steamer passed me, the dense smoke from her funnel obscured her lights; and, then in a few minutes, smoke and lights suddenly disappeared, and I saw no more of her;.this would probably be when the boat was abreast of Tom's Rock." The letter picked up by Pilot Davis no doubt belonged to the Rev. Father Driscoll, who went on board the City of Dunedin at Wellington. it was dated "St. Edmund's College .(England), 1856.—My dear Michael,"— that being the- Christian name of the Rev Father Diiscoll. It related to the time "and place when and where the rev. gentleman was completing his clerical education. Customs' department records . which might have thrown more light upon this subject were unfortunately destroyed by a fire which occurred in the Government storehouse' on Lambton Quay, Wellington, many years ago. The only other article of personal property found was a shirt belonging to the chief engineer of the vessel, whose name, D. Macdonald, was marked on it. The late Mr James Whisker, who, with his brother John (a passenger) were butchers on Thorndon Flat, Wellington, in that year, offered a reward for the finding of any body from the wreck; he also searched the coastj but found only a small piece of wreckage supposed to belong to the illfated vessel. It has been stated that Mr James Whisker had intended going with his brother John, but missed : his passage. The Wellington Independent, 30tfe May. reported:—"Some experienced mariners of the day are of opinion that, taking into consideration the hour of her departure from the wharf, the City of Dunedin must have passed the dangers of Terawhiti, and that the catastrophe took place on the other side of the Strait, most probably on Cook's Rock, from whence the buoyant fittings found would float with the tide and north-west winds to where they were found."

Another supposition was that the ill-fated vessel blew up, though in such case many bodies and much more wreckage would have been cast ashore.

But this article is not written with any idea of opening up the questions where the City of Dunedin went down, or the time of day at which she disappeared from human sight. The object is simply to state that by the foundering of the City of Dunedin the greatest loss of life occurred which ever took place in any disaster at sea or on land in New Zealand.

Unfortunately the lists of passengers whose names were published were very brief, those' who booked mostly in first cabin, namely:—From Dunedin, Miss Baxter, Misses Blundell (2), Messrs McCarthy, Cole, J. Blundell, and Barron. From Lyttelton: Dr Levy. Messrs John Beswick, McLaren, Valericej B. Bishop, Francis John Morris, and J. Rump. From Wellington: Miss Radlev. Rev. Michael Driscoll ', in the steerage, Mesdames Briggs, Moody, McLaren, Messrs D, Monkay, ii. Dawson, J. Barbell, Moody, J. McLean, John Whisker, J. Rowe, and R. Crawford. Mr John Blundell and his two sisters from Dunedin, landed at Wellington. The following is a lest' of the officers and crew of the City of : Dunedin as entered on the shipping ; books of the owners, at Dunedin:— j James Parker Boyd, captain; George McWilliam, mate; Neil Natash, I second mate; Daniel McDonald, first I engineer; Robert Douglas, second enJ gineer; W. Anderson,Ephraim Burns, t Hugh Graham, firemen; Ronald Mcj Intyre, John Harper, Alexander Mcj Donald, trimmers; Alexander Campl bell, carpenter; John King, Neil , j Thomas Wilson, stewards; Thomas • , Richard Hoskins. cooks; Miss j Mackay, stewardess; Nicholas Cowbray, Joe-.—, John Garratt, Alex. i Trellis, Alex. oibson,-Daniel Lamont, George Johnston, seamen. It was reported that the- crew, who numbered in all twenty-five, "left i fourteen widows, twenty (at least) | children, and two mothers, without , means of support; alt6gether apart . from the families of passengers." j A City of Dunedin Wreck Fund j Committee was formed in Dunedin, I and subscription lists were opened in j Christchurch, Lyttelton, Wellington, I and Nelson, with the result that the sum of about £3000 was raised to relieve the sufferers by the calamity. DESCRIPTION OF THE VESSEL. The paddle-steamer City of Dunedin had only been in New Zealand waters j about eighteen months when she met ; her fate. She arrived at Port Chalj mers fresh from the stocks in the Clyde on the 24th November, 1863, sailing from Glasgow, under comj mand of Captain McFarlane, on the 9th of July. Her regular speed was 10 knots; draught 6£ft., with full cargo of coal; length 167 ft., beam 23ft, depth 15ft, registered tonnage 327. "On proceeding alongside of her," wrote the shipping reporter of the Otago Daily Times, the City of I Dunedin does not strike one as having been built with a view to much elegance of appearance; but her j generally handsome proportions, and | her thorough adaptation for the trade j in which she is to be employed mdi- ) cate her to be a most creditable pro- j duct of her builders, the Messrs

TSenny, of Dumbarton, who have a name as shipbuilders and engineers second to none in the United Kingdom. On board, the visitor is first pleased with the fine open spar-deck, which extends the full length of the vessel, and forms a pleasant promenade for the largest number of passengers she is likely to be required to carry. . . . Seven feet'below this deck is the main deck of the vessel, where access is obtained to the fore and aft holds, and to the engine-room, and where no small freight of vgoods, wool, or stock may be conveniently stowed. The fine pair of engines by •which the vessel is propelled is a pair of diagonal engines, nominally of 100 horse-power, but capable, of course, of working up to a much higher mark, the pistons having a stroke of 4ft. 6in. m cylinders of 38 inches diameter. There is a simplicity and accuracy in the working of the safety valves, perfect communication- being had with these from the engineer s station in the engine-room, where he has also before him, in a remarkably concentrated form, the means of directing the progress of the speed ot the boat according to the instructions of the captain as communicated to him from deck by telegraph. The steam is produced by two bouere, heated by four furnaces each, and fed by a donkey engine. The accommodation provided for passengers onboard is very superior. Out of her length of 160 feet and her beam of 23 feet, the saloon and its accessories! of iadies' cabins, gantries, etc., occupy an extensive space, the saloon particularly being a spacious apartment. Including the staterooms, which are large and well-provided, there are 28 berths, which are exclusive of 12 m 'the ladies' cabin; and, in the fore part of the vessel there is a spacious steerage, 16 comfortable berths, etc." Of course it must be remembered that this account was written over fortyfive years ago. • v THE CHARYBDIS OF COOK STRAIT. Referring to the' navigation ofCook Strait, the New Zealand Pilot states:—"Although the dangers in the Strait are few, gales of wind are frequent, blowing right through, «ither from a north-west or southeast direction; and as the tidal streams run with great strength (more especially off Terawhiti, where at springs their rate is five knots and upwards) with the wind opposing the tidal stream a turbulent sea is raised, which with very heavy gales may be dangerous even to large vessels. Hence it is Necessary, particularly ■with the flood stream, to give the coast a wide berth, as, unless.great attention is paid to the steerage, vessels are in danger of being set too close to the detached rocks." Several vessels have^been wrecked here. The vicinity of Terawhiti might appropriately be termed the Charybdis of Cook Strait. THE RUSH TO ■ HOKITIKA. The rush to Hokitika set v jn some ■months after the discovery of gold at the Wakamarina, Marlborough, m 1864. - The following items, gleaned from files of newspapers in 1865, will enable readers to comprehend the intense excitement which the news from Hokitika created in all parts of this and the Australian Colonies. In, addition to the finding of several nuggets, Mr Revell wrote men were getting as much as £50 a week at alluvial mining, and .wages as miners £2 to £2 5s a day. ",'.■'■ \. , . The first 'steamship advertised in Dunedin for the West Coast divings was the Airedale, 400 tons, R. H. Ferguson, commander. This boat left Port Chalmers for Lyttelton, Welhng--fcon, and Nelson—"the nearest port to fthe new Oakatoka diggings, between the/Buller and Grey River." (!) on IViday, 24th .February. The p.s. City of Dunedin made two or'three successful voyages'to Nelson and Hokitika during the few weeks prior to her disappearance. The first time she left Dunedin, via Lyttelton, Wellington;, and Nelson for Hokitika, was on the Ist of March, 1860. On that occasion she took 169 passengers from Dunedin; the iarf £8.. On the 15th of the same month, she leit. Port Chalmers for Nelson and Hokitika, with 500 passengers (350 in the steerage). She returned to Port Chalmers on the 26th "with no return passengers" (the Otago Daily Times remarked), a* contrast to the condition in which she sailed from Port Chalmers, when, she was crowded to an extent which made the passage one ot little comfort to the passengers, and of no small trouble and responsibility to Captain Boyd." g Many people were conveyed rrom ports of the Colony and Australia to Nelson by intercolonial and interprovincial steamers—the Alhambra, Gothenburg, Hero, Prince Alfred, Lord Ashley, Wellington, Titania, etc.—from whence they were conveyed by the smaller coasters, the Nelson, Wallaby, Bruce, and others to the Hokitika 'River and over the '' tar.' *■* A message from Lyttelton, dated 13th March, stated:—"There are between 700 and 800 passengers waiting at Nelson to proceed to Hokitika, the steamers Wallaby and Nelson are quite inadequate to the demands for passages.." ' '~'-, About the same date the p.s. Bruce returned to Hokitika from Nelson with a second freight of 60 passengers, at £6 a head. From the s.s. Alhambra and City of Dunedin, then in the roadstead off Hokitika, the Bruce landed 900 passengers, and next day took off from " the s.s. Gothenburg 350 more—all at £1 a head. On another occasion, it is stated, the Bruce took off from steamers in the roadstead 1132 passengers, at £1 a head, in four hours. A correspondent writing from Hokitika on 23rd March stated: "Something like 3000 landed in two days." Although in 1864 Hokitika was practically a terra incognita, by April, 1865, 8000 to 10,000 people had arrived there. -.'-,. The fares advertised m "Dunedin papers on the 15th April were:—To lyttelton, cabin £4, steerage £2; to "Wellington, cabin £5 ss, steerage £3; to Nelson, cabin £7, steerage £4; to Jlokitika, cabin £10, steerage £6.

OTHER NOTABLE MARINE DISASTERS.

Tn comparison with, the great loss of life occasioned by the foundering ni the City of Dunedin, it may be interesting to mention some of the disae/ters which have occurred to vessels - running between Great Britain, Australia and the coasts of New Zealand within the last forty or fifty years the remembrance of some or which will be familiar to* many readers. Dunbar, ship, wrecked on the rocks near Sydney Heads, on 20th August, • 1857. 121 persons were drowned. One man only, named Johnson, escaped, and he was on the rocks

I under a cliff for 30 hours befoMbeI ing rescued. I Royal Charter, steamship, on the Homeward voyage from Melbourne to Liverpool, was wrecked off Moelfra, Coast of Anglesea, on the night or October 25-26, 1859. 446 lives were lost. The vessel contained gold amounting in value to Sween £700,000 and £800,000, though much of it was recovered. It was remarkable that the man Johnson; ihe only person who escaped froffithe Dunbar, was a passenger Homewards by the Royal Charter, and he succeeded in swimming ashore with a life-line, by which means over thirty people managed to reach the shore. London, steamship, on her way from London, to Melbourne, foundered m the Bay of Biscay on 11th January, 1866. 220 persons perished, including Captain, Martin, Dr Woolley (Principal of the University of Sydney), Rev. D. J. Draper (President of the Australian Wesleyan Methodist Conference), and G. V. Brooke (the eminent tragedian). This news created a profound, sensation throughout the Colonies. Orpheus, H.M. steamer, 1700 tons. Commodore Burnett, was wrecked on-Manukau Bar, Auckland, on ,/th February, 1863. She was bringing British troops to Auckland. 185 lives were lost; 70 were saved. Admella, steamer, on the passage from Adelaide to Melbourne, struck* on Carpenter's Reef, 25 miles north-west of Cape Northumberland, South Australia, on, Saturday, 6th August, 1859. The vessel broke into four pieces, the after-part (the hold of .which contained a large quantity of copper ore) becoming firmly fixed on the reef. Out 01 109 persons on board when the vessel left Adelaide, only 23 survived. These were huddled .together on the after-deck for eight days, when 19 (including one woman) were rescued by the s.s. Ladybird, with the assistance of the crew of a lifeboat and a whaleboat from Portland Bay, under direction of Capt. Fawthorp, harbour master of Portland. The captain of the Ademella, with three of the passengers, managed the same day to reach the shore in a, boat, though a fourth was drowned in. the attempt. The Ladybird has been till very recently a coal-hulk m Wellington harbour. General Grant, ship, on the voyage from Melbourne to London, wreck- , ed off the Auckland Isles, in May, 1866. Only 13 out of about 100 people on board escaped drowning. Northfieet, a vessel having many navvies on board, and laden with railway iron, for Tasmania, was run into by the Spanish steamer Munllo, off Dungeness, on 23rd January, 1873. About 300 lives were lost.; The Murillo was captured near Dover on the 22nd September_following, and condemned by the British Court of Admiralty to be sold. The officers were severely censured. Strathmore, emigrant vessel, on her way to New Zealand, wrecked in a fog near the Cfozet Isles, South Indian Ocean, on Ist July, 1875. Out of 89 Twrsons on board 45 perished. Some of the survivors reached Dunedin. ' . . Cospatrick, Captain Elmslie, emigrant vessel, on her way to Auckland, N;Z. took' fire at midnight on November 17-18, 1874. Out of the large number of 476 people on board only five or six escaped. Great Queensland, ship, with impure patent gunpowder and ordinary 'gunpowder on board, sailed for Melbourne on the sth August, 1876. 569 persons were on board. She was supposed to have exploded, pieces of wreck beine found near Cape Finisterre, West Coast of Spain, after 12th August. ~ T3""-ua, wrecked at Waipapapa Point, south-east coast of Otago, on 29th At>ril, 1881. ,130 lives were lost. The vessel was on her way from Dunedin to the Bluff and Melbourne —the usual round trip. Wairarapa, on the voyage from Sydney to Auckland, wrecked at the Great Barrier Island, shortly after midnight of Sunday, 28th October, 1894. 115 passengers and 20 of the crew were drowned. 136 . were S3>VGQ.» Penguin, on her way from Nelson and Picton to Wellington wrecked off Cape Terawhiti, on Friday, 12th February, 1909. Out of about 100 passengers and crew on board, seventy were drownecl.

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Bibliographic details

ANCIENT WRECKS., Marlborough Express, Volume XLIII, Issue 174, 21 July 1909

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ANCIENT WRECKS. Marlborough Express, Volume XLIII, Issue 174, 21 July 1909

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