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Shipping and our Strong family.

The Ship ‘Cospatrick’

The burning of the CospatrickCalvert, Samuel, ca 1828-1913: The burning of the emigrant ship ‘Cospatrick’ off the Cape of Good Hope [1874]. Auckland, Illustrated New Zealand Herald, 1875. Reference No: PUBL-0047-1875-09.
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand,
must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

The ship ‘Cospatrick’ sailed from London bound for Auckland on September 11th 1874. On board were 429 passengers, a crew of 44 and general cargo. By Tuesday, November 17th, the ‘Cospatrick’ was 250 miles south-west of the Cape of Good Hope. About midnight, the alarm was sounded and a bucket brigade organised. It was a losing battle with a slight head wind fanning the flames. Attempts were made to turn the ship so that the wind would come from the stern. However, the ship lost steerage and came around with its head to the wind, which forced the fire back into the ship and its flammable cargo. The lifeboats were insufficient and difficult to access, and there was a lack of fire drills. Panic broke out. The main and mizzen masts crashed to the deck, an explosion blew the stern away and the ship finally sank. Only two lifeboats got away from the ship. Each boat carried about 30 survivors, neither boat had food, water, masts or sails. The boats became separated and one was never seen again. People on the lifeboat died of thirst, hunger and delirium and remaining survivors resorted to cannibalism. They were picked up by the ‘British Sceptre’ 10 days later and only 3 survived.

The tragedy—described by the Daily Southern Cross in Auckland as the "most lamentable disaster, both as regards the loss of life and the horrors that attended the sacrifice that has ever occurred in connection with immigration to these colonies"— continued to have a profound and abiding effect on the migrants. Indeed, it has been cited as one of the factors that led to a sharp decline in migrant numbers after 1874 because it emphasised one of New Zealand’s biggest disadvantages in the competition to attract good people: the length of the voyage and the increased perils this involved.

Source: Hastings, D. Over the mountains of the sea: Life on immigrant ships 1870-1885. New Zealand: Auckland University Press, 2006: 68-72.

The STRONG family were booked to travel on this last voyage of the ‘Cospatrick’ , but they cancelled due to an outbreak of sickness amongst some of the children. They then left Plymouth in the ‘Baron Aberdare’ on 14 Dec 1874 as assisted emigrants. Had the news of this disaster reached London by this time? The ‘British Sceptre’ had just picked up the ‘Cospatrick’ survivors on 27 Nov 1874. If the STRONGs knew about the ‘Cospatrick’ when they sailed on the ‘Baron Aberdare’, they must have had a very compelling reason for emigration!

The Ship ‘Baron Aberdare’

Baron AberdareShip ‘Baron Aberdare’
Photo: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Chapter 2 gave a general account of the ‘Baron Aberdare’ voyage, also information relevant to the STRONG family and the ‘Baron Aberdare’, and details of a celebration of the jubilee of the voyage. This page continues with a quote of a detailed description of the ship… the ‘Baron Aberdare’ must have made a sensation in Auckland at that time!

THE BARON ABERDARE.
Some time back, owing to the action of Messrs. Shaw, Savill and Co., of London, a movement was made to establish a local shipping company, and owing to the exertions of Captain Daldy and a few other influential citizens like himself, a local shipping company was established, which in time became merged into the New Zealand Shipping Company, which has been placed on what, from present appearances, seems to be a firm basis. Since then some remarkably fine vessels have been despatched to the order of the New Zealand Shipping Company-some built to their own order, and others chartered from eminent shipping firms, the consequence being that the rate of freights been greatly diminished. A brief description of the Baron Aberdare, a magnificent vessel replete with every modern invention, which arrived here some days ago from London, and is now lying alongside the Queen-street wharf, will no doubt prove interesting, for this splendid vessel has since her arrival in Auckland been an object of attractions, everyone having any interest in shipping at all, and as she lies alongside the wharf her vast proportions and fine lines are clearly apparent. The Baron Aberdare is an iron ship of 1,630 tons register, and was built by the well-known firm of W. Watson and Sons, of Sunderland, to the order of Mr. James MacCann, of Greenock, the owner, and for strength and carrying capacity combined can vie with any vessel afloat. The ship is what may be termed an extreme clipper, and although on her maiden passage to this port she made a rather protracted voyage, owing to the succession of calms and provoking light head winds to the tropics, she proved herself to be a swift sailer by making the run from Start Point, where the pilot was landed, to 7°, N., in 12 days, averaging 11 knots, and from the Cape to Cape Leeuwin in 16 days. The Baron has great length, the overall measurement being 275ft. depth of hold, 24ft. draught when loaded, 20ft. 6in., beam, 40ft. She carries a very large spread of canvas, her yards being very square. Double topsail and top-gallant yards are carried on the fore and mainmasts, double topsail and patent reefing top-gallant sail on the mizenmast. Her lower masts are constructed of iron, the topsail and lower yards of steel, and the bowsprit of iron. She carries courses, topsails, top-gallant sails, and royals only, the top-gallant sails having a great hoist. The standing rigging is of wire, which is of the best kind. She is supplied with four topmast backstays on each side, port and starboard, and has seven shrouds in her lower rigging. One noticeable feature about her is a patent windlass, manufactured by Messrs. Harfield and Co., of London, which is of the most unique and simple construction. All the bitts on board the ship are used as ventilators, so that a free current of air throughout every compartment of the vessel can at all times be obtained. She has a water-tight compartment forward, and throughout, the design has been evidently to combine speed with strength. The ship is well supplied with boats, a matter which is too often neglected in large vessels going on lengthy passages. She carries in all, six boats. The vessel is supplied with iron davits for fishing the anchors, &c. One specimen of the anchors on board—the right bower—shown to our reporter, is of ponderous dimensions, and it could only be, worked by the aid of the machinery, a description of which follows. A large steam winch and apparatus for condensing thirty-gallons an hour is placed amidships just abaft the foremast. The barrels of the winch can be used for hoisting the yards, discharging cargo or other heavy work. The engine feeds itself from sea water obtained from a pipe leading to the bows. It is from the manufactory of Dunlop, Heslop and Co., the diameter being 15ft., and height 12ft. A pipe connects with a fire engine of the latest invention, situated in the after part of the forecastle leading aft on each side. A donkey-engine is also fitted with pipes leading fore and aft by which the anchor can be raised, decks, washed, &c. All deck houses and deck fittings are of teak and greenheart. The house on deck comprises engine-room, galley, petty officers' quarters, carpenter's workshop, &c. A steam pipe from the boiler of the main engine leads forward, and works the fore hatch and heaves up the anchor, or does any other work required forward. A pipe enclosed in a case runs from the sea-cock to the main donkey-engine, which pumps the water out and by which she feeds herself. Through the centre of the deck a shaft ten foot by two supplies free ventilation at all times even in the heaviest weather. The donkey boiler is one of the latest improved patterns make in Middlesboro. It is 9ft. in height by four 4ft. 6in. diameter, and the condenser is one of Chaplin's. The boiler is provided with two pumps, one to feed it, the other to be used as a condenser, so that two steam winches can be used at once together with the condenser. It is capable of working up to forty-five pounds pressure. The main winch is under cover in the engine-house, so that it can be worked, even in the roughest weather. The steam winch at the fore hatch is supplied from the same boiler, and the whole can be connected together. All the bitts on board are ventilators, there being twelve on the main deck all self-acting. Independent of these there are six 10-inch ventilators, and one trunk ventilator, 14ft. by 2 ½ft., which, in a ship loaded with coal or grain, would obviate all danger of spontaneous combustion. In the ’tween-decks, under stringer plates, which are 3ft 6in. in breadth, there are “sweat boards” fitted to collect all condensed vapour, consequently no injury can be caused by latent steam. The Baron is supplied with Hartfield's patent windlass, which can be worked either by hand or steam. The chain cables are connected with one another, the links being of unusual strength and dimensions. When bent they form an endless chain, so that the ship can ride at a single anchor with two hundred and sixty fathoms payed out. The lower rigging is of the best charcoal wire. The upper spars and jib-boom are of pitch pine; the bowsprit, which is a massive spar, is according to the new requirements of Lloyd's, at London, fitted with a diaphragm plate, 16ft. in length, an innovation of which this is the first example in Auckland. By this means, in the event of the bobstay parting, the bowsprit will remain perfectly stiff, and cannot bend. When the ’tween-decks are clear there is a space of 246ft. The vcssel, when measured for conveyance of troops in Sunderland, was found capable of carrying 780 men. The ’tween-decks are 8ft. 4in. in height, and fitted with hatches, so that at any time communication can be maintained with the upper deck. The spread of the fore and main rigging is 36 feet abaft the masts. On a deep-load draught the ship draws 21 feet, and is estimated to displace 3,409 tons. A slight idea of the dimensions of the vessel may be gained when we state that her poop is 80ft. in length, and her top-gallant forecastle 42 ft. The forecastle is a roomy house situated in the eye of the vessel and fitted up for the accommodation of 38 seamen. In the deck-house there are berths for 12 petty officers. It measures 40ft. by 80ft., and comprises petty officers' quarters, oil lockers, a galley, and engine room, and is situated between the main hatch and foremast. All the lower deck under the engine-house and galley is iron, cemented and bricked, and the centre of the main deck, from the main to the after hatch, is of teak planking. The following dimensions of her spars will give an approximate idea of the spread of canvas she sets when under full sail:—royal, 42ft. across; upper top-gallant fore and main, 62ft.; lower ditto, 60ft. 6in.; upper topsail, 67ft.; lower ditto, 78ft.; lower yards, 87 ½ft.; mizen royal, 30ft.; top-gallant, 45ft.; upper topsail, 53 ½ft.; lower ditto, 63ft.; cross-jack, 73ft.; jib-boom and bowsprits, from knight-heads, 81ft. Her extreme length overall, from taffrail to figure-head, 275ft., being 16ft. longer that the Miltiades, which lately visited this port. The vessel was built under the personal supervision of Captain Edmonds, and was inspected by surveyors from both London and Liverpool Lloyd's, receiving the highest class, as already mentioned. The firm to which she belongs are engaged in building a line of “Barons”, of about equal tonnage, and built on almost the same model as the vessel now under notice. The Baron Aberdare is named after a Welsh baron, The Baron Blantyre, now lying in Sydney from her maiden trip, and loading for San Francisco, is named after a Scottish baron. The Baron Colonsay, now building at Sunderland, and to be launched next May, is also to be named after a Scottish baron. The firm have also got The Baron Selbourne, named after an English baron, and now employed in the Mediterranean trade. They also own the renowned China clipper Sir Launcelot, which has made some of the most wonderful passages from Foochoo to London, winning two of the great ocean races, under the command of Captain Robinson, and two under the present commander of the Baron Aberdare. The celebrated clipper Guinevere also belongs to the same firm. The crest of the owner is a mailed hand holding a lance, with the inscription “Fuimus,” “Offernna ofne an gau.” The house flag is a flying horse, black, on a white ground.
The Baron Aberdare has splendid saloon accommodation although she has not been built for a passenger ship. She has eight staterooms in the main cabin, each of them being 8ft. 6in. by 8ft. by 7ft. There are two after berths which are much larger and together with the other staterooms are supplied with every requisite. The officers quarters are situated forward of the cabin, and are without exception the most comfortable of any vessel that has ever visited Auckland. The cabin is supplied with a fireplace with funnel, and a bathroom is also attached to the saloon. Everything on board this fine ship is of the best description and newest invention, the meteorological instruments are all new and include together with the ordinary complement an anemometer, perfected aneroid and improved sympiesometer.

Source: Port of Auckland: The Baron Aberdare. (section of shipping column).
Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXXI, Issue 5491, 30 March 1875, Page 2.

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