29/05/1874 - 24/08/1874

Ship Summary



Depart Date

Thursday, May 28, 1874


Arrive Date

Sunday, August 23, 1874

Journey Notes

STRANDING OF THE CITY OF ADELAIDE -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- We are sorry at having to report that, driven by the severe westerly gale, which lasted during Sunday night, Messrs. Devitt & Moore’s register liner, the fine favourite ship City of Adelaide, 791 tons, has gone ashore on Kircaldy Beach, between Henley Beach and Semaphore. The vessel was built with an iron frame, planked at Sunderland under special survey in 1864, for her present London owners, specially with a view to her regular employment in the Australian trade, and she has made excellent passages, well loaded with cargo, and she has invariably had a good complement of passengers. On Monday morning we dispatched a Special Reporter to the vessel, whose distance from Adelaide is about five miles, and part of the subjoined information appeared in Monday’s Journal. The spot where she lies is on Kircaldy Beach, about a quarter of a mile on the Semaphore side of the opening of Leason’s Road. At first sight the vessel, which had all her sails furled, and appeared in perfect order, seemed to be quite motionless, but a closer view showed that she was gradually working herself into the sand. The male passengers thronged the deck, but the distance was just too far for speaking communication in such a high wind, being about 150 or 200 yards. The starboard anchor was in its place, but, from the absence off the anchor on the other side and the broken tackle hanging from her bows, it is supposed the vessel while riding at anchor broke her cable and was driven ashore by the violence of the gale. The first intimation of the disaster appears to have been noticed in Queenstown, where some residents saw rockets about 4 o’clock a.m. At daylight of course the stranded vessel was seen from the Semaphore, and her masts from all the surrounding locality. A number of persons hastened to the beach, and later the day there were several hundreds, including the friends of the passengers. John Thomas, a lumper, very pluckily swam off to the vessel, and would have boarded her but that he was forbidden, being informed that there was fever on board. No further particulars were given, and so Thomas, who had performed the feat with great bravery, returned to the shore. Police –constable Allchurch thereupon dispatched a trooper to Port Adelaide for Dr. Duncan, the Health Officer. In the meantime there was no means of communication between the people on shore and those in the vessel, except when the latter send missives, as they did, by means of bottles, and in the latter part of the day these came pretty fast. One of the first was as follows:- Ship City of Adelaide left London May 29, 1874; left Plymouth June 6, with immigrants to the number of about 300 souls. Has had a favourable passage. We leave the readers to judge our present position. Tonnage 791 tons.” Messages were also sent in the same way intimating that Patrick Fitzgerald and Chas. Pate were quite well. Another message intimated that Michael Mullins and his mother were quite well, and wished that information to be conveyed to Mr. John Mullins of Kensington. In the afternoon several other documents were floated ashore. Amongst them were the following:- From Thomas Holley to John Searle or James Trip (Moonta Mines), saying that he (Holley) with his wife and five children, in company with the wife’s brother and eldest sister’s son and wife were on board; also for John Phillips, from his wife and child; for R. Burton, Port Adelaide, from his wife, saying she was quite well; from Annie Dorin, to her mother and friends; from Pat Guning (County Meath) to Mr. Pulford, Port Railway Station, saying his niece was safe; also messages to William Harris, William Roe, and sealed letters addressed to J. Bryant, boot maker, Union Street; and Mr. Williamson (care of Mr. Campbell), Crompton Street, off Gouger Street. Mr. William Roe, or Thomas A. Peake, of Rundle Street, were informed that E. P. is quite well, and the steamers are coming tomorrow to tow us off.” The last message opened ran thus – “My dear friends – We wish we could get to you, but we cannot. Our ship is in the sand six feet, and they cannot move it. We cast anchor last night, but the wind blew so that it broke the chain and we lost the anchor, and we were forced to go, but we hope we shall get safely to Adelaide now, so we bid you good night, and hope we shall see you to-morrow so as we can speak to you.” There were numbers of people on the beach during the whole day gathered from all quarters. The ship was almost broadside on, and the faces were discernable through a glass. One or two passengers and their friends on shore recognised each other; but as messages could only be transmitted from the ship to shore, but not vice versa, no satisfactory communication could be had, and those who were most interested were looking anxiously for the report of the Harbour-Master and Health Officer, who started in the Eleanor for Port Adelaide at about 3 o’clock. The ship’s crew were engaged during the afternoon in taking down sails and tackling. The main deck of the vessel was thronged with the assisted immigrants, who watched with interest the picking up of the various bottle missives. These were as far as possible, taken care of by the agent of Messrs. Harrold Brothers, who was down at the beach both morning and afternoon. The messages and letters may be seen at their office by those to whom they are of interest. The police troopers who were dispatched by Chief Inspector Searcy have made arrangements to stay on the beach during the night in case anything should require their services. Owing to the continuance of the high wind the tide recede very little on Monday, but it is said the if the weather were calm a person could walk out to the vessel. She is in about five feet or six feet of water at high tide and something like an equal depth of sand. The following is from our Shipping Reporter – When Monday morning broke there was a heavy gale sweeping over the Gulf, and the sea which rolled in on the eastern shore was rather too heavy for prudent men to venture boats afloat. As the day dawned it was seen that a large ship was ashore below the Stations. The President of the Marine Board and the agent of the ship were soon apprised of the fact, and the result was the early charter of the Eleanor to proceed thither to render all possible assistance. Outside the bar the heavy seas from the westward scattered the spray over the tug, and everybody sought the shelter of the o??case. Down the Gulf at half speed wetted the steamer’s decks considerably; but even after passing the Craigendarroch at anchor the sea became positively ugly, as heavy rollers from the westward showed that the beach boats would be of little service in such a sea. The nautical talent on board the Eleanor arranged to anchor and drop down for a line, to follow which a good hawser would have assisted in towing the vessel off. It was very nearly high water, and there then arose a question of salvage or not, but the agents’ representative being on board this difficulty was soon got over. A matter of more real difficulty was how to get the hawser across. Fortunately the Margaret just then came round the Point, and headed down for the ship like a good water sprite, which she certainly was, as she got into the out breakers, and for an instant was enveloped in a crowd of surf/ She ranged on and took the hauling line, dropped down on the City’s port quarter, and after some trouble got the line on board. Occasionally the heavier seas would roll in till the launch was out of sight, but after awhile line was passed on board. The exultation, however, was only of momentary duration, as the propellers got fouled, and the little steamer was obliged to anchor, or rather to hold on to the Eleanor’s line. While the little episode was going on the tug began her tow, and properly stretched out the beautiful new hawser passed from her stern. The wash of the paddles outside the break made a kind of passage, and though hemmed in on either side, the Harbour Master and our Shipping Reporter ventured in the steamer’s boat, and after some careful navigation the City’s side was reached, and an earnest welcome accorded. The steam tug towed hard as the tide approached high water, but it was evident that the City had made such a bed for herself that unless after extensive lighterage she would not come off. The report of the voyage from England shows the ship left Plymouth on June 6, and on getting away south the north-east trades were brisk and pleasant. On June 29 crossed the Line in 30o long., and the passage of the south east trades was moderate and fine. On July 7 sighted the Isle of Trinidad, and soon after had a very heavy gale. On July 26 crossed the prime meridian in 44o south lat. On crossing the Southern Ocean fine breezes prevailed, only interspersed with a couple of gales, during which the ship was hove-to for 48 hours. Cape Leuwin was passed on the 16th August, and Cape Borda on Sunday morning. The ship then reached up the Gulf, until on Sunday evening she was well up for Yankalilla, but on account of the force of wind was under lower topsails and foretopmast staysail. At 1 o’clock Glenelg light was sighted, and a course shaped for the anchorage, when without previous warning the wind suddenly shifted to N.N.W. and the ship consequently broke off. The lead, which was constantly going, showed she was approaching the eastern shore, and every possible exertion was made to get commanding sail on. Suddenly the land was perceive in such proximity that there was no alternative but to anchor. The port anchor was let go, but parted cable at 30 fathoms, and without further warning the ship stranded, the last cast being half three. To ease her sails were clewed up and furled, and finding there was no immediate apprehension no boats were launched, as there was a heavy rolling surf alongside. It is believed that the ship will come off at hight tide, but not without considerable expense, seeing it will be necessary to completely discharge and dismantle her. Every exertion is being made to push forward the operation of lightering, so that the present tides may be taken advantage of, which will be at their spring about Thursday next. Some citizens who have friends on board were disappointed that no attempt was made to get them landed on Monday. Although the vessel may be safe in moderate weather, it is hard to say how she would fare if it should be as tempestuous as it has been known. The following information was telegraphed to Mr. S. Cornish, of Harrold Brothers, by the Port agents of the firm – “City cannot be got off unless all cargo discharged and ship dismantled. Now making necessary arrangements for lightering. Eight cases scarlet fever on board. Have got Duncan to allow all convalescent passengers to land. Steamer goes for them to-morrow (Tuesday) noon, with lighter. Mitchell quite well. Register 25/8/1874


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