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6th April. — Start. N. 45' E. 80 niiles.



2Sth July.— Pilot left ship. Start bore N.N.E. Fresh N.W. gale.
25th August.— Crossed the line in 19° W.

31st October.— Took tug to Calcutta. The passage was spoilt by
20 days of calms from 3° N. to Sandheads.


19th February.— Dropped pilot and made sail.

18th to 21st March.— On edge of cyclone.

21st March.— 28° 21' S.. S. 2° 12' E., run 288. E. and E.N.E. gale.

30th May. — 4 p.m., sighted land abeam. 10 p.m., Start light.


27th August. — Cast off and made sail.
30th August.— Start bore E. f N. 14 miles.
23rd September.- Crossed the line in 29° 35' W.
25th November. — Tug took hold.

27th November. — Made ship fast No. 1. Esplanade moorings.
(89 days. Best run 297.)


21st January. — S p.m., cast off tug and made all plain sail to a light
N.E. breeze.

11th March. — Anchored St. Helena.

10th May. — Noon, Lizard 18 miles. About 200 sail in sight in-
cluding Anglesey, Newcastle, Alnwick Castle. Shannon, Middlesex ,
Durham, Alumbagh, Wave of Life, Jerusalem, Maid of Judah and
Orierd. The City of Glasgow and Golden Fleece, which were in company
north of the line, arrived about three weeks before us, having gone inside
the Western Isles.

By the time that the Suez Canal had been opened a
couple of years, it was perceived by the owners of the
Blackwall frigates that their days in the Calcutta
passenger trade were numbered. Messrs. Smith sold
their ships and went in for steam.

The St. Lawrence was afloat well into the eighties,
running between Puget Sound and Sydney with lumber,
her square ports filled in, and her cabins turned into


••Shannon" and the "Lord Warden."

In May, 1862, two 1200-ton ships were again
launched for Green's Blackwall Line, the Shannon
from the Blackwall Yard and the Lord Warden from
Pile's Yard at Sunderland. The Lord Warden was all
wood, but Shannon had iron beams. Whilst the
Shannon was being built, Highflyer, on her maiden trip
to Sydney, put back having lost her rudder. It was
of the greatest importance that tea ships should get out
to China in time to load the new teas of the season, so
there v/as no time to make a new rudder, and Greens
solved the difficulty by unshipping the rudder from
their new ship and fitting it on Highflyer; thus High-
flyer sailed the seas with Shannon^ s rudder on her

The Shannon was a smart ship and once did the round
voyage to Melbourne, including time in port, in 5
months 27 days. She ran steadily to Melbourne until
Greens sold her in May, 1883, to J. C. Ellis, of Sydney,
N.S.W., and as late as 1879 she arrived in Hobson's
Bay on 12th January, 77 days out from the Downs.

The Lord Warden started life in the Calcutta passenger
trade, but was afterwards transferred to Green's
Melbourne service. She also made some fine passages
of under SO days outward, and as late as 1881 she
arrived out on 3rd October, 79 days from Prawle Point.

Greens sold her in 188 I to Ossoinak, of P'lume, and
she foundered four years later.

An Apprentice's Joke.

With regard to the Shannon, an amusing fraud
was perpetrated by some British windjammer apprentices
in 1887. The Shannon was taking in a cargo of lumber
at Vancouver. On Jubilee Day, these young rascals

From a Paintino by Captain Clayton.


[To face Page 278.


spread the report that the old Blackwaller was the
original Shannon which had fought the Chesapeake;
the old ship with her rather seaworn appearance and
painted ports looked quite the part to the unsuspecting
landsmen, and thf apprentices were soon busy showing
a number of people over her.

• Many of these visitors were much impressed and
showed it by tipping the boys handsomely, whilst one
of tlieni remarked sagely that she was the finest specimen
of a wooden warship he had ever seen. Thus the
fraud passed off without being detected. In the
following year the Shannon sprang a leak when bound
from Newcastle, N.S.W., to Wellington, and putting
into Papeete was condemned there.

The two "Essex's."

The Counties of England have always been
favourite names for ships, and this has over and again
caused confusion. Thus both AVigram's and Marshall's
ships were counties, and in 1862 Wigram launched a
1000-ton ship at Blackwall which he called the Essex,
whilst in 1863 Marshall launched a 1200-ton Essex
from his yard at Sunderland.

Wigram 's ship was built of wood throughout, but
Marshall's ship had iron beams, The latter dis-
appeared before the eighties, at which date Wigram 's
Essex was owned by C. B. Walker, of Gloucester; she
afterwards became a coal hulk.

It was on Wigram 's Essex that Commander Crutchley
made a trip home before the mast in a foc's'le full of
men holding Board of Trade certificates. This was one
of the smartest crews a ship ever had, but one which it
was not wise to mishandle or humbug about. They
soon taught Commander Crutchley how to spit Lirown


and carry on according to "Blackwall fashion"; and
one of them, who was working his passage home in order
to buy a ship of his own, afterwards offered Crutchley a
second mate's job.

The third mate was unpopular with these experienced
shellbacks, and they showed it in a most significant
and disconcerting way — they refused to sing out on a
rope and hauled in silence; at last Captain Attwood, a
Blackwaller of the old style, who had the dignity of his
officers at heart, was obliged to interfere and caution
his officer to show more tact with his crowd.

I remember reading of one other case of such a crew.
This lot were in an Aberdeen barque, and made
a practice of bringing their sextants on deck before
8 bells and shooting the sun, to the astonishment and
scandalisation of their officers.

Captain Attwood had a chief officer who was extremely
popular with all hands, but who was of an unusual type
even for a Blackwaller, for he carried his own valet with
him. This, however, must have had its effect on
the tone of the ship, which was noted for that "grand
manner " peculiar to these aristocrats of the sea.

♦» The Last of the Dunbars."

The Dunbar Castle was ordered just before
Duncan Dunbar died, and was one of his ships acquired
by Devitt & Moore, who put her into the Sydney trade,
where she was always known as the " Last of the Dunbars."
Her best known commander was David B. Carvosso, a
martinet of the old style, a splendid seaman and one of
the most successful shipmasters in the Australian trade.
I\Iany queer things happen at sea, but few of them
have surpassed the women's mutiny on the Dunbar
Castle for quaintness. She was taking out emigrants to


Sydney, consisting of 10 married couples and 90 single
girls. One evening towards the end of the second
dog watch a tremendous huliaballoo broke out below,
and the girls' matron presently came chasing up on
deck in a state of panic ; she was followed a few moments
later by the ship's medico, a nervous little man who
narrowly escaped having all the clothes torn off him.

Captain Carvosso was then compelled to take a hand.
At the foot of the hatchway he was met by a strapping
North-Country girl, who., stripped to the waist and with
fists clenched, stood like a boxer ready for battle. But
the little captain had an impressive personality, and
with his reef-topsail voice soon succeeded in silencing
the furious mob of women

"What the devil next?" he roared. It was his pet
expression, and when they heard it, those who knew
him prepared to stand from under. He threatened
to turn the hose on the girls unless they went to
their bunks at once, and knowing only too well that
he would be as good as his word they quieted down
and this women's mutiny was quelled.

This story is told by Captain W. G. Browning in the
Nautical Magazine. He also states that the Dunbar
Castle was one of the last ships to carry a single topsail.
The Dunbar Castle was converted to a barque in ISSO,
and a few years later was sold to Bremen owners, who
renamed her Singapore; she belonged to Rostock in
1900, but about 1901 was converted into a coal hulk.

Devitt & Moore's "Parramatta."

The fastest of all the Blackwall frigates, with the
exception of The Ticeed, which was in a class by herself,
was probably the splendid old Parramatta. She
was also one of the largest, measuring 1521 tons, 231 ft.


length, 38.2 ft. beam and 22.8 ft. depth. She had the
usual passenger ship's length of poop, but in her case it
was so low that it was called a raised quarter-deck, and
it extended as far forward as the mainmast.

Under Captain J. Swanson, who had her until 1874,
and Captain Goddard, who commanded her for the rest
of her existence under the British flag, she was a very
favourite passenger ship to Australia and the La
Ilogue's great rival in the Sydney trade.

She usually left London about the beginning of
September, calling at Plymouth for her passengers, and
was seldom much over the 80 days to Port Jackson.

In her earlier days, before she took to coming home
round the Cape and calling at St. Helena, which was
by far the most popular route with passengers, »he
made some very fine homeward passages round the

In 1876 she left Sydney on 1st February, and arrived
home 79 days out. This fine passage she equalled in
1879, when she left Sydney on 5th February and arrived
at Plymouth on 2Gth April, only 21 days from the

Parramatta was sold to J. Simonsen in 1888, and was
still afloat ten years later under Norwegian colours.

The Iron Blackvvaller "Superb."

Dicky Green was a lover of teak and Biitish oak,
and would have nothing to do with such a material
as iron in shipbuilding, and until his death in 1863
there was no chance of the Blaekwall Yard building an
iron ship; but his death removed all opposition,
and the firm were not long before they laid down their
first iron ship.

This wai the Supah, launched iu ISoG, aad lur many



Phoiolenl by F. ^. Layton

[To face Page 282.


years a favourite passenger ship to Melbourne. She
usually sailed from Gravesend at the beginning of the
summer and left Melbourne homeward bound at the end
of the year.

She measured 1451 tons, 230.3 ft. length, 37.9 ft.
beam, 23.1 ft. depth, with a poop 77 feet long and
foc's'le 45 ft. long. Superb had a number of fine
passages to her credit, one of the last of which was 74
days to Melbourne in 188G. In 1881 she arrived 76
days out, and in 1878 79 days out. In 1883 instead
of coming home as usual from Melbourne, she crossed
to Frisco from Newcastle, N.S.W., in 51 days; and
leaving Frisco on 7th December arrived Queenstown
20th April, 134 days out.

A Passenger's Log.

I have a passenger's log, kept on the Superb, on
the passage home round the Horn from Melbourne in
1882. She was then commanded by Captain Berridge,
who had his wife aboard; there were 12 first-class
passengers and a ship's company of 55, including 4 mates,
9 midshipmen, 3 quartermasters, usual petty officers,
engineer, 24 A.B.'s, 3 O.S.'s, and 5 boys. A few
extracts from this log may be of interest. The writer
was a young Australian making his first visit home;
his log is very neatly written in a copper-plate hand
and embellished with the ship's house-flag, commercial
code and national flags in colours.

14th September. 18S2. — Left Sandiidge Railway Pier at \ o'clock
and anchored in the Bay. Ship drawing 20 feet forward, 22^ feet aft.

16th September. — When I awoke this morning we were in tow for
sea by the Williams. Passed through Port Philhp Heads at 12 o'clock
noon. The pilot left shortly after we had gone through the Rip.
Scarcely any wind. One passenger sick already.

17th September. — ^Wind N.W. fresh. Ship rolling very much, so
much so that it was quite impossible to get any sleep.


18th September. — Fresh gale from S.W. with high sea. Saih set —
Inner and outer jibs, foresail and fore topsails, main topsails and top-
gallant sail, mizen topsails and main topgallant staysail. Ship taking
in a lot of water. Heavy squalls accompanied with rain.

19th September.— Lat. 45' 19' S., long. 147' 31' E. Distance 204
miles. A little music, principally selections from " Billee Taylor "
and " Carmen." Took in staysail and set mainroyal.

21st September. — One of the passengers caught a large mollyhawk
with a piece of string. A piece of stick is attached to the end of the
string which is coloured and allowed to hang over the stern, the bird
does not notice it and. diving under it, gets its wings entangled. Very
fine on deck though exceedingly cold.

23rd September. — A terrible day and as bad a night. Captain says
he never saw such big seas. Wind blowing a gale with furious squalls.
Ship taking in water over all parts. On main deck it is on a level with
mam hatch. About 10 o'clock a grtat sea came up astern and went
clean over the poop ; at same time the ship's head went into another
■ big one, flooding the foc's'le, smashing the cuddy in several places and
washing some buckets overboard. Hen coops with contents all floating
and sliding about the poop. On main deck seamen's chests, clothing
and boots washing about. One of the sailors whilst asleep in a top
bunk was washed out and struck his head on one of the beams,
giving it a frightful gash. The quartermaster was washed under the
wheel and hurt his back. It would not have been so bad for him if he
had let go, but he hung on to his post and wrenched his back. He had
to be carried forward. All the men and midshipmen got washed out.
Lat. 48° 47' S., long. 167° 42' E. Distance 235 miles. Barometer 29.89.
24th September. — Another awful day with furious squalls every
twenty minutes. Plenty of sprays and small seas on the poop. Ship
rolling 60° at times. No church but short service of sacred songs in thi
evening. We are running under fore, main and mizen lower topsails.
The seas are terrible. 1 don't like looking at them at all. Lat. 47° 37'
S., long. 173° 38' E. Distance 247 miles. Barometer 29. 34.

27th September. — Antipodes Day. No wind and smooth sea.
28th September. — We are to have a grand concert in the saloon on
Friday, so to-day there are a few rehearsals, such harmony, especially
of the quartette. It mustn't be mentioned though I wish they would
go somewhere else to prac.ise, the voices are all like lions, but a nearer
comparison is like carrov grating.

30th September. — Horrible noise in the mate's cabin, through this
being his birthday, and like all civilised people, he is " keeping it up."

2nd October. — The grand concert came off at 7.30 p.m. The
finest song was a duct. " I would that a single word." by Mrs. Berridgs
and Mr. Rowe.


3rd October. — A splendid day : sea quite calm : wind comes in
catspaws, sails flapping very much. P.M., a game of cricket was
played on the main deck. A whale came right up under the stem to
blow— a beautiful sight. Lat. 48° 02' S.. long. 153° 42' W. Distance
35 miles.

6th October. — !\Iy berth companion, Paterson, had an apoplectic fit

9th October. — Whilst sawing wood for a shelf in my cabin, in the
lazarette, the chief steward chalked me, putting two crosses on each
boot. I saw it coming and tried to get away but the way was barred
by the other stewards. It cost me three shillings.

11th October. — Miserable wet day with little or no wind. After
tea, gambling was carried on in shape of half-penny points at vingt-et-un.

21st October. — The mate caught a lot of Cape pigeons and one Cape
dove to-day: he let them go again, but tied red bunting round the necks
of three, who were chased about by scores of their brethren. The lead
was cast at 7 p.m. and found mud at 65 fathoms. Lat. 53^ 40' S., long.
72° 32' W. (dead reckoning). Distance 88 miles.

22nd October. — We were abreast of Diego Ramirez Islands at
quarter-past three. We were off Cape Horn at half-past seven within
15 miles. Sighted two barques outward bound. A school of porpoises
passed us and the hands tried to harpoon them at the bows. We also
saw a bird called a " Cape Horn bird," a very pretty one. only to be seen
off the Horn.

23rd October. — 8 am., land on port beam with snowcapped

24th October. — Passed over 100 albatross resting on the water.
Wind rising, going along about 8 knots ; mizen royal taken in.

25th October.— Squally with snow and hail. 5 p.m.. squalls got
furious, and we had to run off before them for some time. Middle
staysail sheet gave way and sail ripped clean up. Three men at the

27th October.— Wind S.W. Reefs shaken out ship rolling and
lurching violently at times. Heaviest roll 38°.

30th October. — Royals taken in and mainsail reefed, I caught a
whale-bird to-day.

5th November.— Lat. 33° 37' S.. long. 34° 38' W. Distance 135
miles. N. 24 E. Sea smooth, only a light air. awfully hot on
deck and terribly close in the cabins. Caught an albatross weighing
14 lbs., measuring 9 ft. 8J in. from wing tip to wing tip and 4 ft. C in.
from bill to end of tail.

8th November.— I was up at 6 o'clock. After having some coffee—
so it is called, but I don't know why!— I assisted to scrub the poop down.
Wind shifted ahead with hard squalls and heavy rain ; reduced sa-L I


was at the !ee wheel for an hour to night, and as the ship kicked
dreadfully it was long enough. Sighted three sperm whales; about
half-past eight they were right under our stern. Two of them blew
at distance of 10 j^ards from the stern. Chief officer calculated that
they were 60 feet long. .Ml the birds have left us except four littl'i
petrels, but a sand-martin followed the ship for th:e? hours this morning.
Lat. 3r 26'S., long. 30* 41' W. Course N. 67 E. Distance 57 miles.

10th November. — Wind S.E. just enough to fill the sails. We
played cricket on the main deck, lost a few balls and split a bat.

12th November. — A flying fish, 7 inches long, flew aboard and
smashed itself all to pieces. The darkness of the night was so great
it was impossible to see the mainyard from break of the poop. Kept
blowing the horn all night. Divine service held in the saloon.

14th November. — Remained on deck till 12 when I saw the comet
rise in the S.S.E. In a short time it was nearly overhead. Its tail
covered one-third of the sky. Its Lead was very bright and nucleus
quite plain.

loth November. — Signalled full-rigged ship Siem Morcna. of
Liverpool, 45 days out from Southend to Corque, Patagonia, came up
on our starboard quarter only a quarter of a mile off.

16th November. — 8 p.m., heavy squall struck us and we luffed for
a few minutes. The darkness was like a thick inky fog. Just as the
darkness was lifting, a large ship, half as big again as us, came right on
to us : she was reported bv the man on the lookout when about 200 yards
right ahead. Immediately she saw our lights, she put her helm up ;
she had all sail set and stood away to the southard. Everyone got a
terrible fright. Lat. 16* 58' S.. long. 3P 52' W. Distance US miles.

17th November. — Passed an American whaler about noon under
lower topsails. Two of her boats were after a large whale which we
saw several tmies. Concert held in the saloon to-night — very poor indeed.

23rd November. — Played against Rowe and Eden in quoit tourn-.-
ment with captain as my partner. We won the heat which made our
opponents awfully wild. Passed a large homeward bound two-masted
steamer, square-rigged, funnel painted blue with white stripe under
black top. Signalled her but she declined to answer.

25th November. — i\ies5rs. Jone.-;. Mann, and Stephens formed
themselves into a negro group and gave us a lew comic songs, proceeds
going to Merchant Seam-n's Orphan .\sylum box. I began to make
a small model of the ship.

26th November. — Passed the barque Tchernaya, 1222 tons, of
Calcutta, bound from Severndrog to New York, SS days out, with lower
stunsails set.

27th November. — At 9.18 p.m. by hmar observations we we:e
exactly 1 mile south of the line. Long. 3P 15' W



[ To face Page 286.


1st December.— Entered my name for draught tournament. Lots
of bonita about and seamen fishing for them from the boom.

3rd December.— Strong N.E. breeze and high sea. .\t- quarter to
seven a big sea came over the break of the poop, wetting some of the
passengers. I managed to get out of the water but was caught hold of
by Elkington, who was shding down to the les poop. I tried to save
my.self by holding on to the skyhght, which caused hira to jerk the sleeve
out of my coat.

6th December.— Saw the transit of Venus to-day through coloured

13th December.— Lat. 31* 15' N., long. 37* 38' W. Distance 29
miles. Course N. 7 W. A dolphin passed us, also three whales.
Plenty of gulfweed about and we managed to get a lot of it.

16th December. — Great talk and betting as to the day of our arrival.
Fresh N.W. breeze, ship going along beautifully.

17th December. — Abreast of Flores this morn in*.

25th December. — At 12.30 at night made Lizard lighthouse.

27th December. — 11 a.m., pilot came aboard oli Dungeness.
Engaged tug Universe, of London, for £50, to pick us up further on as we
could sail faster than he could tow. 3.30, tug took hold. All square sails
stiiwed away with a "harbour stow." Packing up has begun with a

I have quoted this passenger's log rather fully, as it
gives a good idea of how sea life has changed from the
passenger's point of view. How much more of an
adventure was this man's passage from Australia than
the present day run in a palatial Orient liner ! How
far more interesting to the natural and to the
meteorologist ! How far more health-giving to the
invalid !

The Salving of the " Superb."

The following account from a shipping paper
describes the last days of the Superb : —

The sailer Superb, of London, has had quite a curious experience
since passing out of the control of her original owners. It is said that
she ran away with her scanty crew on the first outward passage after
the sale and had to return for more men.

Under the Norwegian flag, bound to Europe with manganese ore,
she wa) dismasted and left to her fate on 27th April, 19Ut>. The


crew were brought to England by the British barque Seafarer. Eleven
days later the derelict was fallen in with by the British ship Senator,
bound from British Columbia to Liverpool, when in 36' N., 32' \V.
Mr. John H. Wilson, chief officer of the Senator, son of a Liverpool pilot,
volunteered to attempt salvage of the Superb with the aid of five men
from the Senator. Sails and provisions were put on board the prize,
the ships parted company, and the first news of the undertaking reached
England with the Senator.

On 27th May the Superb was sjxjken by the steamer Buceros,
struggling bravely along, in 30' N., 20' W., and on Hth June the
Union liner Galeka reported her as in 38" 20' N., 12' 44' W. She got
within 70 miles of Cape Trafalgar and then accepted ordinary towage
services of the Spanish steamer Julio, to bring her for £100 to Gibraltar,
where she was safely brought to anchor on 22nd June. Mr. Wilson is
but 24 years old, served his apprenticeship with W. Thomas & Co. and
has since sailed out of Liverpool.

At Gib the old Superb was converted into a coal hulk,
and was broken up a year later.

The "Carlisle Castle."

The second iron ship built in the Blackwall Yard
was the Carlisle Castle, measuring 115S tons, 229.8 ft.
length, .37.8 ft. beam and 22.8 ft. depth. She also had a
frigate-like appearance and in no way resembled the
Clyde-built iron clippers, which about this time were
developing into a splendid type of their own.

The Carlisle Castle was very heavily rigged, crossing
three skysail yards; and had a double set of stunsails,
including storm lower stunsails for running easting
down. She also had a yard half way down the main
topgallant sail, to which the sail was laced, so that she
could run under half the topgallant sail if required.
She was a fine steady-going ship and rarely ran over
300 miles in the 24 hours, being very wet if heavily

Her best passages were 80 days, Lizards to Melbourne

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Online LibraryBasil LubbockThe Blackwall frigates → online text (page 22 of 26)