Basil Lubbock.

The colonial clippers online

. (page 1 of 32)
Online LibraryBasil LubbockThe colonial clippers → online text (page 1 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook







Author of "The China Clippers"; "Round the Horn Before

the Mast"; "Jack Derringer, a tale of Deep Water" ;

and "Deep Sea Warriors"







V K 5 /

\ n



Dedicated to all those who learnt the art of the sea so
thoroughly and practised it so skilfully aboard the
Colonial Clippers.



IN this book I have attempted to give some account of
the beautiful sailing ships which played so great a part
in the development of the great British Dominions
under the Southern Cross.

It is written specially for the officers and seamen of
our Mercantile Marine, and I have endeavoured to avoid
such a criticism as the following : " Heaps about other
ships, but my old barkey was one of the fastest and
best known of them all and he dismisses her with a
line or two."

I have made rather a point of giving passage records,
as they are an everlasting theme of interest when sea-
men get together and yarn about old ships. The
memory is notoriously unreliable where sailing records
are concerned, so I have been most careful to check
these from logbooks and Captains' reports. Even
Lloyd's I have found to be out by a day or two on

A great deal of my material has been gathered bit by
bit through the past 25 or 30 years. Alas ! many of
the old timers, who so kindly lent me abstract logs and
wrote me interesting letters, have now passed away.

The illustrations, I hope, will be appreciated, for these,



whether they are old lithographs or more modern photo-
graphs, are more and more difficult to unearth, and a
time will soon come when they will be unprocurable.

Indeed, if there is any value in this book it is because
It records and illustrates a period in our sea history,
the memory of which is already fast fading into the
misty realms of the past. To preserve this memory,
before it becomes impossible, is one of the ma in objects,
if not the main object, of my work.

Note. As in my China Clippers, when using the word "mile" I
always mean the sea mile of 6080 feet, not the land mile of 5280 feet.




The Power of Gold - - - - - - - 1

Steerage Conditions in 1 844 ...... 3

Discovery of Gold in Australia - - - - 5

Melbourne and its Shipping in 1851-2 - - - - - 6

First Gold Cargoes Home - 10

Great Rush to the Gold Regions in 1852 - 11

Maury's Improvements on Old Route to the Colonies - -13

Early Fast Passages Outward - - 14

Rules and Customs aboard the Eagle in 1853 - - 15

Liverpool Shipowners in the Australian Trade - -22

James Baines, of the Black Ball Line - - 23

The Marco Polo - - 26

Captain James Nicol Forbes - - 29

Marco Polo's First Voyage to Australia - - 32

Marco Polo's Second Voyage to Australia - - - - 36

After Life of Marco Polo - 40

Most Notable Clippers of 1853 - - 41

Ben Nevis - ... . - 42

The 'Star of the East - - 42

The Miles Barton - ... - 43

The Guiding Star - - - - - - - -44

The Indian Queen - 44

The Famous Sovereign of the Seas - 48

Best Outward Passages for 1853-4, Anchorage to Anchorage - 52

1854 The Year of the Big Ships - 62

Extraordinary 24-hour Runs - - - 57

The Lightning - - - - 60

The Red Jacket - - 62

Race across the Atlantic between Lightning and Red Jacket - 63

Red Jacket's First Voyage to Australia - - 66

The Lightning's First Voyage to Australia - - - 71

Champion of the Seas - - - 73

The James Baines - - 77

Record Voyage of James Baines to Australia - - 81

The Donald Mackay - - - 83




Blue Jacket, White Star, and Shalimar - 85

The Wreck of the Schomberg 87

Best Outward Passages Liverpool to Melbourne, 1854-5 90

1855-1857 Captain Anthony Enright and the Lightning 91

Best Homeward Passages, 1856-6 103

Best Outward Passages, 1855-6, Liverpool to Melbourne 104

James Baines Overdue - - 105

James Baines, Champion of the Seas, and Lightning race out to

India with Troops in the Time of the Mutiny
Burning of the James Baines
America Sells her Clippers to Great Britain -
Notes on the Later American-built Passenger Ships -
Black Bailers in the Queensland Emigrant Trade
Sunda and Empress of the Seas Carry Sheep to New Zealand
After Life and End of the Liverpool Emigrant Clippers
The Burning of the Lightning
Blue Jacket's Figure-head
The Loss of the Fiery Star
Some Famous Coal Hulks
Loss of the Young Australia
The Fate of Marco Polo -


The Carriers of the Golden Fleece - 1 22
The Aberdeen White Star Line - - 129
Wood and Composite Ships of the Aberdeen White Star Fleet - 131
The Phoenician - 132
The Lucky Nineveh 134
The Jerusalem - - 134
Captain Mark Breach's First Encounter with his Owner - - 136
The Thermopylae - - 137
The Centurion - - 137
The Aviemore - - 137
The Fate of the Early White Star Clippers - 138
Duthie's Ships - - 140
Passages of Aberdeen Ships to Sydney, 1872-3 - 142
The South Australian Trade - - 143
The Orient Line - 146
The Orient and Her Best Outward Passages - 148
Orient nearly Destroyed by Fire - 149
Orient Delivers her Carpenter's Chest to the Lammermuiy in Mid-
Ocean - 151
The Little Heather Bell - 152
The Murray - 153
The Orient Composite Clippers - - 154



Yatala - - - - 165

The Beltana, and Captain Richard Angel - - - 156

The Wonderful Torrens - - 157

Torrens' Outward Passages - - - - 161

The Great Sobraon - - - 163

Messrs. Devitt & Moore - - 176

City of Adelaide and South Australian - - - - 178

The Speedy Little St. Vincent - - 179

Pekina and Hawesbury - - 180

Mr. T. B. Walker - - - 180

Walker's Clipper Barques - 181

The Beautiful Little Berean - - 183

Captain John Wyrill - - 185

The Berean' s Races - 187

Berean as an Ice Carrier - - 190

Loss of the Corinth - 191

The Little Ethel - - 192

The Hobart Barque Harriet McGregor - - 192

The Fremantle Barques Charlotte Padbury and Helena Mena - 193


Introduction of Iron in Shipbuilding - - - - 195

The Ironsides, First Iron Sailing Ship - 200

The Martaban - - 200

The Builders of the Iron Wool Clippers - 202

The Darling Downs - 204

City of Agra and 5am Mendel - - 204

Dharwar - - - 205

Strange Career of the Antiope - - 206

Theophane - - 208

Messrs. Aitken & Lilburn, and the Loch Line of Glasgow - - 208

Clan Ranald, Ben Nevis and Loch Awe - 209

Patriarch First Iron Ship of Aberdeen White Star Line - - 212

Thomas Stephens - 214

First Six Ships of the Loch Line - 219

King's Island A Death Trap for Ships - 224

Milttades - 225

Carmichael's Superb Wool Clipper Mermerus - - 227

Devitt & Moore's Collingwood - 230
Hesperus and Aurora The First Iron Ships of the Orient Line - 231

Brassey Cadet Training Scheme - 232

Ben Cruachan and Ben Votrlich - 235

Samuel Plimsoll - - 240

Loch MareeThe Fastest of the Lochs - 245

Tragedy of the Loch Ard - - - - 247



Dcvitt & Moore's Crack Passenger Ship Rodney - 261

Nichol's Romanoff - 254

Duthie's Cairnbulg - - 254

The Speedy Thessalus - - 256

Passages to Australia in 1874 - - 257

Lock Garry - 259

Loch Vennachar - - 262

Salamis An Iron Thermopylae - - 265

The Colonial Barque Woollahra - - 270

Cassiope and Parthenope - - - 270

Trafalgar - - 270

Passages to Australia in 1875 - - 271

Sir Walter Raleigh - 273

Loch Fyne and Loch Long - 274

Aristides The Aberdeen White Star Flagship - 274

Smyrna - 275

Harbinger - - 276

Argonaut - - 280

Passages to Australia in 1876 - - 282

Brilliant and Pericles - - 282

Loch Ryan - 284
Loch Etive, of Captain William Stuart and Joseph Conrad fame - 284

The Wreck of Loch Sloy - 286

The Loss of Lochs Shiel and Sunart - 287

Passages to Australia in 1877 - 287

Passages to Australia in 1878 - - 295

Sophocles - 296

Passages to Australia in 1879 - - 296

Passages to Australia in 1880 - 297

Passages under 80 days to Sydney in 1881 - 300

Passages to Australia in 1881 - 301

The Big Illawarra - 301

Orontes - 302

Loch Torridon - - 302

Loch Torridon' s Voyages, 1892-1908 - - 316

Port Jackson - 323

Passages to Australia in 1882 and 1883 - 324

Derwent - - 326

Passages to Australia in 1884 - - 328

Torridon and Yallaroi - 328

Loch Canon and Loch Broom - - 329

Passages to Australia in 1885 - 334
Mount Stewart and Cromdale The Last of the Wool Clippers - 336

Perforated Sails - - 337

Hme'a Clipper Barques - - - 339


Iron Barques of Walker and Trmder, Anderson 341

The Loss of Lanoma ... 342

Occasional Visitors in Australian Waters ... 344


The Mayflowers of New Zealand ..... 345

Edwin Fox ....... 347

Wild Duck 847

Shaw, Savill & Co. ..... 348

Crusader ..... 349

Helen Denny and Margaret Galbraith - - 349

End of Some of Shaw, Savill's Earlier Ships - - 350

The Loss of the Cospatrick 351

The Loss of the A valanche - 354

Patrick Henderson's Albion Shipping Company - 354

Wild Deer - 355

Peter Denny - - 862

Albion Shipping Company, 1869 Ships - -362

Christian McCausland Loses her Wheel ^ - 363

Origin of tlje Albion House-flag - - 365

New Zealand Shipping Company - 365

Otaki's Record Passage Home .... . 369

Turakina, ex-City of Perth - 370

Robert Duncan's Six Beautiful Sister Ships - - 376

Wellington and Captain Cowan - - - 380

Wellington Collides with an Iceberg - - - 382

Oamaru and Timaru ... - 383

Marlborough, Hermione and Pleionf - - - 384

Taranaki, Lyttelton and Westland .... 334

Lutterworth and Lady Jocelyn - ... - 386

Outsiders in the New Zealand Trade - - -386

The Pretty Little Ben Venue - - - . - 387

Hinemoa ..... 337


Appendix A Extracts from Lightning Gazette, 1855-1857 - 391

B Later American-built Passenger Ships to Australia 410
C Iron Wool Clippers -411

D Log of Ship Theophane, 1868 Maiden Passage - 414
E List of Clipper Ships Still Afloat and Trading at the

Outbreak of War, August, 1914 - -416

F The Wool Fleet, 1876-1890 - - - -417


Emigrant Fleet in Hobson's Bay Frontispiece
Mr. James Baines To face page 23

Marco Polo ,. 27

Plate of House-Flags 32

Sovereign of the Seas 48

Lightning 60

Red Jacket ,, 63

James Baines ,, 77

Donald Mackay entering Port Phillip Heads - ,,83

White Star 85

Bluejacket 114

Royal Dane 114

Lightning on Fire at Geelong - ,,117

Light Brigade ,, 120

Young Australia ,,120

Plate of House-Flags - ,,120
Orient, arriving at Gibraltar with Troops from the

Crimea 148

Pekina and Coonatto at Port Adelaide, 1867 164

John Duthte at Circular Quay, Sydney ,, 154

Torrens - ,,157

Torrens at Port Adelaide 157

Sobraon ,,163

City of Adelaide, David Bruce Commander, 178

South Australian - 178

Captain John Wyrill, of Berean ,, 183

Berean - .,183

Mr. Thomas Carmichael, of A, & J. Carmichael 200

Darling Downs 204

Antiope - ,,204

Antiope - 206

Theophane - 208

Dharwar - ,, 20g

Patriach - - ,,212



Thomas Stephens - - To face page 214

Mermerus alongside - ,, 225

Miltiades ,, 225

Hesperus - 230

Collivgwood - 239

Samuel Plimsoll - - .,239

Rodney - ' 250

LocA Garry - 250

Thessalus - - ,,254

Loch Vennachar - ,, 262

Salamis - ,,266
Thomas Stephens, Cairnbulg, Brilliant and Ct/ty Sark,

in Sydney Harbour - ,, 266

Woollahra - ,,270

Aristides - - ,, 274

Harbinger ... ,, 276

Argonaut - ,,280

Pericles - ,,282

Mermerus in Victoria Dock, Melbourne, 1896 - ,, 284

Brilliant - ,,284

LocA Erti-e - ,.286

Argonaut in the Clyde 286

Cimba ., 290

Sophocles - ,,296

Illawarra - ,,301

Captain Pattman ,, 301

Loch Torridon, with perforated Sails - ,, 308

Loch Torridon ,, 318

Port Jackson ,, 323

Port Jackson in the Thames ,, 323

Derwent, off Gravescnd ,, 327

Mount Stewart ,, 327

Torridon - 328

Mount Stewart - ,, 335

Cromdale - 335

Brier holme 340

Crusader - 352

Cospatrick ,, 352

Wild Deer - ,,355

Christian McCausland - ,, 364

Pta&o 364

Turakina, ex-City of Perth ,, 370

Otaki Becalmed - 373

Akaroa - - ,, 377

Invercargill, off Tairoa Heads - 377


Timaru - - To face page 382

Wellington, at Picton, Queen Charlotte Sound ,, 382

Westland ., 384

Taranaki - ,, 384

Ben Venue ,, 386

Lady Jocelyn - 386


Champion of the Seas - ,.73

Lightning ., 73

Sail Plan of Ben Cruachan and Ben Voirlich - 234

Sail Plan of Loch Moidart and Loch Torridon 304



Those splendid ships, each with her grace, her glory,

Her memory of old song or comrade's story,

Still in my mind the image of life's need,

Beauty in hardest action, beauty indeed.

" They built great ships and sailed them " sounds most brave,

Whatever arts we have or fail to have ;

I touch my country's mind, I come to grips

With half her purpose thinking of these ships.

That art untouched by softness, all that line
Drawn ringing hard to stand the test of brine j
That nobleness and grandeur, all that beauty
Born of a manly life and bitter duty ;
That splendour of fine bows which yet could stand
The shock of rollers never checked by land.
That art of masts, sail-crowded, fit to break,
Yet stayed to strength, and back-stayed into rake,
The life demanded by that art, the keen
Eye-puckered, hard-case seamen, silent, lean,
They are grander things than all the art of towns,
Their tests are tempests, and the sea that drowns.
They are my country's line, her great art done
By strong brains labouring on the thought unwon,
They mark our passage as a race of men
Earth will not see such ships as those again.


The Power of Gold.

FROM time immemorial the progress of the world,
in colonization, in the Sciences (shipbuilding
especially), and in the Arts owes its advance to the
adventurous spirit of the pioneer. Particularly is this
the case in the opening up of new countries and in

the improvements in ship transport to those countries.



Kipling 1ms sung the song of the pioneer and has
laid stress on the pioneer spirit, but he has not touched
on that great magnet which has ever drawn the pioneer
on and dragged civilisation in his wake the magnet
of gold. Gold and its glamour has been the cause,
one can almost say, of all the tragedy and all the
evil in this world, but also of nearly all its good and
all its progress.

It was the discovery of gold which opened up the
fair States of Western America and brought about
the building of the wonderful American clipper.
In the same way the great Dominions of Australia
and New Zealand owe their present state of progress
and prosperity to that shining yellow metal; and
without its driving power there would have been no
history of the great Liverpool emigrant ships to record.

Emigrant Ships to Australia in the Forties.

Before the discovery of gold in Australia,
the trade of that Colony was at a low ebb, suffering
from want of enterprise and financial depression;
whilst the emigrant ships running from Liverpool
and other British ports, owing to the want of healthy
competition, were of a very poor description. The
horrors of the long five -months passage for the miser-
able landsmen cooped -up in low, ill- ventilated and
over-crowded 'tween decks, were fit to be compared
with those of the convict ship. The few vessels
with humane owners and kindly captains were in a class
by themselves. These, indeed, thought of the health
and comfort of the wretched emigrants and did not
content themselves with merely keeping within the
letter of the Government regulations, which might
more fitly have been framed for traffic in Hell.


For first class passengers the splendid Blackwall
frigates of Green, Money Wigram and Duncan Dunbar,
and the beautiful little clippers of the Aberdeen
White Star Line, provided excellent accommodation
and a comfortable and safe, if not a particularly
fast, passage. But the ordinary steerage passenger
had to content himself as a rule with a ship that was
little better than a hermetically sealed box: one as
deep as it was long, with clumsy square bows and
stern, with ill-cut ill-set sails its standing rigging
of hemp a mass of long splices ; and with a promenade
deck no longer than the traditional two steps and
overboard .

These Colonial wagons were navigated by rum-
soaked, illiterate, bear-like officers, who could not
work out the ordinary meridian observation with
any degree of accuracy, and either trusted to dead
reckoning or a blackboard held up by a passing ship
for their longitude; whilst they were worked by the
typically slow-footed, ever-grousing Merchant Jack
of the past two centuries.

Report on Steerage Conditions in 1844.

Nearly everyone has read of the horror of the
convict ships, but the following report of steerage
conditions in 1844 plainly shows that in many respects
the emigrant's lot was every bit as hard and revolting:
*' It was scarcely possible to induce the passengers
to sweep the decks after their meals or to be decent
in respect to the common wants of nature; in many
cases, in bad weather, they would not go on deck,
their health suffered so much that their strength
was gone, and they had not the power to help them-
selves . Hence the between decks were like a loathsome


dungeon. When hatchways were opened, under which
the people were stowed, the steam rose and the stench
was like that from a pen of pigs. The few beds they
had were in a dreadful state, for the straw, once
wet with sea water, soon rotted, besides which they
used the between decks for all sorts of filthy purposes.
Whenever vessels put back from distress, all these
miseries and sufferings were exhibited in the most
aggravated form. In one case it appeared that,
the vessel having experienced rough weather, the
people were unable to go on deck and cook their pro-
visions : the strongest maintained the upper hand over
the weakest , and it was even said that there were women
who died of starvation. At that time the passengers
were expected to cook for themselves and from their
being unable to do this the greatest suffering arose.
It was naturally at the commencement of the voyage
that this system produced its worst effects, for the
first days were those in which the people suffered
most from sea-sickness and under the prostration
of body thereby induced were wholly incapacitated
from cooking. Thus though provisions might be
abundant enough, the passengers would be half-
starved . ' 9

This terrible report was given before a Parliamentary
Committee .

A Shipping Notice of 1845.

It does not even mention the overcrowding
which took place, owing to the smallness of the ships,
which can well be realised by the following shipping
notice taken from a Liverpool newspaper of January,


Will be despatched immediately :

For PORT PHILLIP and SYDNEY, New South Wales.
The splendid first-class English-built ship



A i at Lloyd's, 296 tons per register, coppered and copper fastened,
and well known as a remarkably fast sailer. This vessel has spacious
and elegant accommodation for passengers, replete with every con-
venience and presents a first rate opportunity.
For terms of freight and passage apply to


The Discovery of Gold in Australia.

However, on the discovery of gold in 1851,
the Colonial trade leapt out of its stagnation and
squalor and at one bound became one of the most
important in all the world's Mercantile Marine. And
when the gold fever drew a stream of ignorant English,
Scotch and Irish peasants to Australia, men, women
and children, most of whom had never seen a ship
before they embarked and who were as helpless and
shiftless as babes aboard, it was seen that something
must be done to improve the conditions on the emigrant
ships. Government regulations were made more
strict and inspectors appointed; but the time had
passed when they were needed competition now
automatically improved the emigrant ships from
stern to stem.

The discovery of alluvial gold in Australia was
mainly brought about by the great Californian strike
of 1849. That strike upset the theories of geologists
and set every man on the world's frontiers searching
for the elusive metal. The first authentic discovery
in the Colonies was made near Clunes, in March, 1850,
but it was not until September, 1851, that gold began


to be found in such astounding quantities that large
fortunes were rocked out in a few weeks .

The first licenses for diggers were issued in
September, 1851 ; and the effect on the ports of
Melbourne and Geelong was immediate wages began to
rise to fabulous heights, as did the common necessaries
of life, even to wood and water. Shearers, harvesters
and bushmen were soon almost unobtainable, and
the very squatters themselves left their herds and
flocks and rushed to the goldfields. The police and
custom-house officials followed them, and in their
turn were followed by the professional men of the
towns the doctors, lawyers and even clergymen.
And as has ever been the case, sailors, running from
their ships , were ever in the forefront of the stampede .

By the end of September there were 567 men at
Ballarat; they, by means of the primitive Australian
gold rocker, had rocked out 4010 ounces or 12,030
worth of gold, taking it at its then commercial value
of 3 per ounce. There were only 143 rockers, yet
this amount had been won in 712 days' work, re-
presenting a day and a quarter's work per man.
At the beginning of November it was estimated that
there were 67,000 ounces of gold in banks and private
hands at Melbourne and Geelong. From this date
new fields, to which wild stampedes took place, were
discovered almost daily. Forrest Creek, Bendigo,
Ararat, Dunolly and the Ovens all showed colour
in turn.

Melbourne and its Shipping 1851-2.

It was some months before the news of the
great Australian gold strike spread round the world,
and one can well imagine the excitement on board the


incoming emigrant ships, when they were boarded
almost before their anchors were down and told the
great news. Often successful miners would come
off and prove their words by scattering gold on the
deck, to be scrambled for, or by removing their hats
and displaying rolls of bank notes inside them.
Settlers, bereft of their servants, sometimes even
came off with the pilot in their anxiety to engage men.
Indeed it was commonly reported in the winter of
1851 that the Governor was compelled to groom his
own horse.

With such stories flying about, and every native
apparently in a state of semi-hysteria, it is not sur-
prising that often whole ships' crews, from the captain
down, caught the gold fever and left their vessels
deserted. Not even the lordly Blackwall liners
with their almost naval discipline could keep their
crews. The six-shooter and belaying pin were used
in vain. Shipmasters were at their wits' end where
to get crews for the homeward run. 40 and even
50 was not found to be sufficient inducement to
tempt sailors away from this marvellous land of gold .
Even the gaol was scoured and prisoners paid 30
on the capstan and 3 a month for the passage .

By June, 1852, fifty ships were lying in Hobson's
Bay deserted by the crews . Nor were other Australian
ports much better. The mail steamer Australian
had to be helped away from Sydney by a detachment
of volunteers from H .M . brig Fantome ; and at
Melbourne and Adelaide, where she called for mails,
police had to be stationed at her gangways to prevent
desertion, whilst at Albany she was delayed seven
days for want of coal, because the crew of the receiving
ship, who were to put the coal aboard, were all


in prison to keep them from running off to the

Some description of Melbourne at this wonderful
period of its history may perhaps be of interest.

From the anchorage, St. Kilda showed through
the telescope as a small cluster of cottages, whilst
across the bay a few match -board ing huts on the
beach stood opposite some wooden jetties. Williams-
town, indeed, possessed some stone buildings and a
stone pierhead, but in order to get ashore the un-
happy emigrant had to hire a boat. Then when

Online LibraryBasil LubbockThe colonial clippers → online text (page 1 of 32)