Ben Venue - City of Perth - double shipwreck, Timaru 1882

Two Wrecks at Timaru May 1882 

Timaru Herald, 15 April 1882, Page 3 THE STEAM TUG.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMARU HERALD. Sir, Many people wonder how the members of the Harbor Board can rest in their beds of a night whilst the grave question of a protective steam tug remains in abeyance. To those who know the history of the port of Timaru and recall to mind such dreadful tragedies as the wreck of the Akbar, it does seem startling that men can quietly give themselves up to the seductions of the circumlocution office, when at any moment the elements may repeat themselves with a tenfold opportunity. The members of the Harbor Board would then, along with ourselves, run the risk of once more powerlessly looking on, not only at the destruction of paltry wood and iron on the Ninety-mile Beach, but perhaps again once more behold the bruised and shattered bodies of men and women cast on that pitiless shingle and brought into town on expresses to await a coroner's inquest. I am, &c., TIMARU.

The ocean rollers came in with their might and fury; the crowd of idlers who gathered on the beach in the morning to watch the magnificent effects of the surf, soon became witnesses and actors on an exciting scene of shipwreck, attended by some loss of life. - Otago Witness 

Two ships of a thousand tones were tossed like nutshells on to the beach, in the presence of some thousands of spectators.

Ben Venue on the beach & City of Perth afloat.

The spectacle of tragedy, it is said, purifies the soul with pity. One can well believe that to look on self-devotion like that which sent the Timaru boatmen to their death must -for the moment, at least- cleanse the meaner feelings out of any man's breast. The lives lost were all heroically offered to death at the call of duty and humanity. No coward died at Timaru. They went out in the face of certain danger. - Otago Witness 

"Benvenue" Monument
"Greater love hath no man than this. That a man lay down his life for his friends."

This Monument is raised to commemorate generous and noble self-sacrifice of those who gladly encountered the perils of death in the heroic endeavour to save their fellow men on Sunday the 14th May 1882 when the "City of Perth and the Benvenue" were wrecked at Timaru.

Master - Captain W.H. McGowan
Iron Sailing Ship
999 tons
Total Loss

"City of Perth"
Master - Captain C. McDonald
Iron Sailing Ship
1189 tons

This tablet contains the names of those who perished in the endeavour to save life 14th May 1882.
Alexander Mills       Harbour Master  Timaru
John Blacklock        First Mate  "City of Perth"
Robert Gardiner       Second Mate   "City of Perth"
Donald McLean      Carpenter    "City of Perth"
William McLern      Waterman   Timaru
Emanuel Nielson     Boatman     Timaru
Martin Beach           Boatman      Timaru
Harry McDonald     Boatman     Timaru
George Falgar          Boatman      Timaru

This tablet contains the names of those who survived the endeavour to save life 14th May 1882

Budd, W.
Balsom, R.H.
Bradley, D.
Bradley, I.J.
Bradley, P.
Collins, Robert
Collis, W.
Cracknell, James
Crocome, J.
Davis. George
Findlay, G.
Graham, Christopher
Harford, W.
Hart, T.
Haylock, A. L.
Henneker, J.
Houlihon, J.
Isherwood, J.
Ivey, E.J.
Le Roy, M
McDonald, C.
McIntosh, J.
McKenzie, Francis
McKenzie, W.R.
Martin, T.
Mentac, G.
Moore, Charles
Morgan, T.
Oxby, W.
Passmore, S.J.
Paterson, J.A.
Reid, J.
Shaab, Andrew
Shirtcliffe, G.
Smith, W.S.
Sunnaway, George
Thompson, M.
Thomson, J.
Turnbull, A.B.
Trousselot, Henry
Vogeler, C.
Walls, W.H.

The above was transcribed from the monument which is located on Sophia and Church Street's intersection, Timaru near St. Mary's Church.  

benvenue1.jpg (31122 bytes)   benvenue2.jpg (39425 bytes)   benvenue3.jpg (23441 bytes)

Wrecks monument on the corner of Sophia and Perth Streets, Timaru, [ca 1885]
Reference Number: 1/2-005336-F

Timaru Herald, 27 May 1882, Page 2
The Dunedin Echo, referring to the late wrecks at Timaru, says : " One lesson we may draw from the catastrophe. Heroism is found amongst the workers. One has not to go to wars or battles to find true heroes. The men who risked and those who lost their lives at Timaru were true heroes. At the shrine of duty they sacrificed themselves, and we hope some effort will be made on behalf of those they have left behind them to show that the people of the colony know how to value ouch services as they performed. Captain Mills, exhausted by anxiety and work, brought ashore to die, surely shows what a brave man will do in the performance of his duty. He showed that true courage can be manifested in doing Harbor Master's duty. Yes; truer courage than is shown by many military leader. We hope, we repeat, that if these brave men have left behind them some who will miss the bread-winners, that they will not be allowed to feel their loss. As for the Timaru roadstead, no doubt these losses will be of immense injury to it but we hope to see the residents pushing on their Breakwater, and even using these sad accidents as additional spurs to their exertions to complete the Breakwater."

Timaru Herald, 9 June 1882, Page 3


[An address delivered by the author in the Theatre Royal, Wellington, on the occasion of a performance given for the benefit of suffers by the disaster at Timaru, in May, 1882]


Who are Earth's heroes ? Who are they that claim
A shrine immortal in their country's breast,
A niche within the citadel of fame,
Or, higher still, a home among the blest?
One answers: "They are those who in the fight
Win heav'n's approval and the world's applause ;
The men who die for justice and for right -
The men who bleed for freedom's holy cause."
Another answers:  "Heroes lead the van
Of Peace and Progress in the march of mind,
And spread God's treasures at the feet of man,
And shed the rays of knowledge o'er their kind. "
Ay, these and those are heroes, true and brave,
Whose deeds and words are treasured, fond and fast -
Whose memories are untarnished by the grave ;
Heroes who build the future on the past,
And raise a stately edifice above
The Gulf of Ages, filled with blood and tears,
A human temple round whose shrine of love,
All men shall gather in the coming years.
But there are other heroes on the earth -
Heroes who often sow but never reap
The seed of glory 'til the Second Birth ;
Heroes' who often sink and fall asleep
In duty's arms, unnoticed and unknown -;
Heroes who for their fellows nobly die,
Heroes whose dirge is ocean's solemn moan,
Such are the heroes whom we honor here,
Men who have passed on to the light beyond ;
And those they held in life most true and dear,
Appeal to us for aid - shall we respond?
What were their deeds? We open up the scene�
Behold a spreading city by the sea,
Belted by sunny slopes and plains if green
And skirted by the foam of breakers- free,
That leap and dance for joy along the shore,
Racing like white-haired children on the sand,
Babbling their mother ocean's mystic lore,
Whisp'ring her secrets to the silent land.
A sabbath calm is resting o'er the place,
And souls are soaring upward from their clay.
Celestial smiles gild Nature's tranquil face,
And Thought flies far above life's little day.
Out on the sleeping waves tall vessels ride
At anchor, all is calm. Ah! will it last?
Look yonder, look! here comes a storm-spent tide;
The murmuring fury of the distant blast
Sweeps in upon us. God! we're lost! we're lost!
The boats ! the boats ! now pull for land and life !
They're off! they're safe! they land! though billows tossed
And breakers dashed around them in the strife.
But lo! along the shore the cry is raised,
" Man, man the life-boat !" and a willing band
Rush forward at the call. The crowd, amazed,
Behold the gallant fellows leave the land,
And plunge through seething surf and furious foam.
"Hurrah ! Hurrah ! God speed ye gallant hearts !"
Ah ! well might they exclaim, " God speed ye home !"
God took them home: the tear of pity starts,
But not for those who went, but those who weep
For husbands vanished, and for fathers gone;
Be ours the task to honour them that sleep,
By helping those they loved, now left alone ;
Be ours the task 'nay, friends, 'tis not a task,
It is a debt of duty we've to pay.
God speaks to us when babes and widows ask ;
We hear His voice in theirs, and we obey.

by Thomas Bracken

There is another poem- only have the first two lines.

"On Sunday fourteenth of May
No Christian rest is here today."

Timaru Herald, 2 November 1882, Page 7
The Proposed Monument. The tender of Mr McBride, stonemason, in the sum of  275pounds, has been accepted for the erection of the monument to the memory of those who lost their lives on May 14th last. The Government have given permission for it to be placed on the vacant part, of the Post Office section in front of Church Terrace. 200 pounds towards its cost has already been subscribed, and the trustees intend to make up the balance without trenching upon the Relief Fund.

An account of the disaster appears in Gillespie's South Canterbury A Record of Settlement. A few of the names are spelled in a differently e.g. Breach, Neilson, Sunaway.  

A real large painting of the Strathallan hung in the Farmer's Tearooms. The large painting (about four feet in length) of the wreck of 'City of Perth' and 'Ben Venue' at Timaru hung for many years in the Farmers tearooms and now the painting is at the Port Company Offices, Timaru located along Marine Parade which is located near the distal end of the Port Loop Road a route to Caroline Bay and the harbour. The plate below the painting read  

Wreck of the 
Ben Venue and City of Perth on 14 May 1882 
Presented to 
The Port of Timaru Ltd 
Arthur Bradley
Last surviving son of Issac Bradley, 
A member of the rescue craft's crew.

        The Star
Monday May 15 1882
         Otago Witness Saturday May 20 1882 page 22 (from Monday's Timaru Herald)

Terrible Calamity at Timaru - the day was Sunday; the sky was clear and bright, and there was absolutely no wind.


Wreck of the Ben Venue and City of Perth. Timaru, May 14.
The wreck of the Duke of Sutherland was still occupying public attention, when, this morning, it was evident that before the day closed one more disaster at least would have been chronicled.

A mountainous sea was running, with neither wind nor rain to keep down the swell.  The Norwegian C.F. Funch (?Swedish barque C.G. Funsch) was riding easily at the ballast-ground ( outer anchorage), but the City of Perth and the Ben Venue at the inner anchorage, which lay off the end of the breakwater, were obviously in extreme danger, and the schooners Kate McGregor and Julius Vogel inside the Breakwater. About eight o'clock a reversed ensign was hoisted by the Ben Venue, and the gun summoning the Rocket Brigade was fired. To this signal not only the Brigade but an immense crowd of townspeople responded by making their way down speedily as possible to the breakwater. "Do you want an anchor?" was asked of the Ben Venue about 11 o'clock by the City of Perth. The Ben Venue hoisted "Drifting." From the signal hoisted at intervals from the Ben Venue it was discovered that the vessel has lost one of her anchors, that her windlass had gone, and that her steering gear was crippled. About a quarter to one it was perceived that her remaining cable had parted. The crew took to their boats for the City of Perth, and the ship allowed to drift, which she did, running right up on to the shore at Caroline Bay, where she lies now uninjured as yet, but exposed to the fury of the waves. 

About this time the City of Perth signalled for assistance, having parted both her cables. No volunteers offered themselves on shore to put off to her until several of the crew of the lately wrecked ship Duke of Sutherland put off in two boats, On reaching the City of Perth they found the whole of her company anxious to leave the ship. The united crews of the Ben Venue and City of Perth distributed themselves in the two boats from the shore and the two ship's boats, and made for land, At this time the shore was lined with thousands of spectators. The seas were tremendous that the heavily -laden boats were swept with terrific force up to the crest of each succeeding roller and then down into an abyss. The journey occupied nearly two hours; At length they all came safely along the breakwater. Captain Mills, the Harbour master put off immediately to her with a crew in a whaleboat intending should a wind spring up, to take the vessel round to Lyttelton or Port Chalmers. 

Very strong feelings of indignation against the Harbour Board have been freely expressed; have they failed to provide a tug service. It is satisfactory to report of the breakwater, the monolith stood quite unmoved under the heaviest seas that has ever yet been seen at Timaru. The signal for medical assistance run up by the City of Perth was necessitated by one if the crew having been struck so violently on the leg by the parting cable, as to break the limb. He is reported to be the mate of the Benvenue. On the boat reaching the shore he was at once removed to the hospital.

About 3 o'clock the City of Perth parted her hawser that was holding her and began to drift towards the shore. The sight of so magnificent a ship, laden with a valuable cargo of ten thousand sacks of grain, drifting away, was inexpressibly shocking, but at a quarter to four the worst came. Three boats fully manned, which had been out to the ship, now commenced to reach the shore. After pulling for a quarter of an hour, tow of them - one of which contained Captain Mills- managed to get inside the lee of the breakwater, but the third, which was supposed to have Captain McDonald, of the City of Perth, on board, drifted too far to the northward and got into the full force of the breakers. The tide had gone down considerably, but with it the sea had increased. On the shallow flat of Carline Bay the first two boats rested on their oars, and watched the fate of Captain's McDonald's boat. The latter got under the lee of a terrible sea and disappeared, and a minute afterwards the whole of the unfortunate crew were seen struggling in the trough of the sea. The other boats, observing what had happened to the City of Perth's boat, immediately altered their course, but no sooner had they come within easy distance of the drowning men -the boat of Captain Mills leading the way on this errand of mercy- than one terrific-white crested wave after another swept the foremost boat to the same sad fate. Another and still fiercer wave overwhelmed the third boat, and the occupants shared the same fate as their companions.

Over thirty men were battling vainly for dear life in a boiling sea. Those near the wharf, consisting of members of different ship' crews, boatmen, and other plucky volunteers, immediately rushed to the life boat shed, and managed to launch the lifeboat through the Government landing shed. This took fifteen minutes and during that time one by one the unfortunate castaways disappeared beneath the surface of the water.  There was no time for lifebelts, and probably not two cork jackets were taken into the boat. Andrew Shab (shoreman) was at the bow with the lifeline, and away she pulled with D. Bradley, A.J. McIntosh and four of the City of Perth sailors. 

They succeeded in reaching the drowning men after several narrow escapes. She disappeared repeatedly under the water, but each time managed to right herself. A wave turned her upside down but righted herself, and one by one the men managed to scramble back in. When she met the next sea there appeared to be about ten persons in her, but the oars were adrift. The next sight was that the steersman had secured an oar. and was working gallantly to hold her head to the sea. Two of the swamped boats were now visible; one contained five men, and other four. The lifeboat still kept riding out the seas, and it was observed from the shore that they managed to grasp to floating oars, and with this assistance they succeed after a hard fight in reaching the shore, three or four persons less than went out in her. 

Darkness now had almost set in, but another crew despite the harrowing scene they had witnessed volunteered to take her out again to the rescue of the surf-boat, which was labouring fearfully to avoid being swamped. The surf-boat had saved three men, but she was now unable to reach shore, and she let go an anchor. The lifeboat was speedily manned with a fresh volunteer crew. They pulled out to the surfboat, and succeeded in getting some of the men out. The lifeboat capsized, five of her occupants being swept out of her, of whom four got back. She then came ashore, and a fresh crew went out and brought the remainder of the surf boat's men back, without mishap. 

Blue lights were kept burning from the lighthouse, but insufficient to give a view of the boats. This third crew - Francis McKenzie (coxswain), George Sunnaway, W.H. Wall, and Henry Trusslot - succeeded in bringing back the remainder of the surfboat's crew, and as each lot of men were brought on shore they were carried in blankets to the Royal Hotel. Otago Witness 

No blame could be attached to Captain McDonald and his crew for abandoning the City of Perth as when they left she was only hanging on by a hawser, her three cables having parted one after the other.  She rode by a single hawser until 3.45a.m., when she parted. The Star May 18th. Inquest held May 17.

Wellington. Ample warning was sent out by Captain Edwin of the weather department of the fact that a heavy sea was to be expected in Timaru roadstead about the time it actually occurred.

The City of Cashmere, the City of Perth and the Ben Venue were built under the same roof at Glasgow shortly after one another and have come to grief within a short distance of one another. The Ben Venue is now a total wreck but the City of Perth is afloat at high water and has apparently suffered no damage. Arrangements are started to be in progress for towing her out. The breakwater suffered no damage.

The Ben Venue is high and day at low tide. She was an iron ship of 900 tons register, and classed AA1 at Lloyd's, built by Barclay, of Glasgow, in 1867, and was owned by Watson Bros., of the same port. Her hull and freight were insured for 13,500 pounds in Home offices. At the time she was wrecked she had on board 400 and 500 tons of coal for Port Chalmers, fully insured by Mr Ebenezer Smith in the Standard Company. The City of Perth was loaded with six thousand sacks of wheat by the New Zealand Grain Agency Company. She was insured by the Glasgow Underwriters' Association. 1880 voyage

The City of Perth is an iron vessel of 1189 tons register, is classed AA1, and is a sister ship to the unfortunate City of Cashmere. Like that vessel she was towed down from Lyttelton by the p.s. Lyttelton. She was built in Glasgow by Connell, in 1868, and is owned by G. Smith and Sons, Glasgow. She is, so far as we can learn, uninsured. She was loading for Home on account of the New Zealand Grain Agency and Mercantile Company (Limited) and the cargo she had on board (some 6000 sacks of grain) was fully insured in the Union Insurance Company. The vessel itself is valued at about 10,000 pounds. 

Most of those lost were noble-hearted fellows who went to the rescue of the first boat.

George Falgar, bricklayer's labourer, Timaru. He leaves a wife and family in Timaru in destitute condition. 

George Finlay

Robert Gardner, of Allour (?of Alloa), second mate of the City of Perth, single, aged 25. He was swimming about when the rescuing boats came up, but he declined to be first attended to, and directed the rescuers to another man who was drowning, but after all was himself lost.

Jack McIntosh, the coxswain

David McLean - of Prince Edward's Island, carpenter on the City of Perth, a little gathering of shipmates followed his coffin. There is no one else to mourn his loss, though a wife and family at Home are as yet in ignorance of his fate.

Henry McDonald, boatman, Timaru, leaves a wife and family.

Captain Alexander Mills, the Harbour Master, Timaru, was a native of Arbroath, Scotland, 48 years of age. He leaves a wife and seven children fairly provided for. Captain Mills who was alive, but expired soon afterwards. When brought ashore from the lifeboat, he was insensible; but he recovered for a moment, and wanted to walk. He remarked, "Let me alone, I'm all right, boys." He was carried to his home on the cliff, but died on the way. The medical man kept up artificial respiration for an hour and a half, and then used the galvanic battery; but these remedies unfortunately came too late. The verdict of the inquest on his body returned that he died from the effects of submersion in water while in the execution of his duty. A Masonic Lodge member.
May 16 1882: Captain Mills is to be buried this afternoon with Masonic honours.

A German, name unknown was seen to get into one of the boats, and he has not since been seen. This makes nine deaths. 

May 16. Three of the bodies of the men lost on Sunday washed ashore near Whales' Creek, and have been conveyed to the Melville Hotel, where they await an inquest. Two have been identified. Emanuel Neilson, a Swede, boatman, Timaru, formerly in the employ of the Harbour Board. D. McLean, the carpenter of the City of Perth (identified by J. Lynch, boatswain of the ship) The third supposed to be Martin Bates, boatman, Timaru. The police and others are now watching along the beach for bodies to wash ashore.

Some of the Survivors

Boatmen and sailors are not a church-going class. Their habits of life are not refined, any more than their modes of thought and speech are gentle and courteous. One lesson to be learned from the Timaru calamity -a lesson quite distinct from any likely to come out of the "Official Inquiry" is that a rough and graceless outside may conceal some of the very highest elements of manhood. - Otago Witness 20th May 1882

Mr Blacklock - first mate of the City of Perth, with a severe compound fracture of the right leg. Amputation may be necessary. (looks like he died soon after the event)

John Bradley, a waterman, broken ribs

Press, 3 October 1936, Page 16 Mr I. J. BRADLEY
The death has occurred in Timaru at the age of 76 of Mr Isaac James Bradley, who was the last survivor In Timaru of those who took part in the rescue of the crews of the ships Benvenue and City of Perth, which were wrecked at Timaru on May 14, 1882. Mr Bradley was born at Lodden, Victoria, and came to New Zealand with his parents while still quite young and had most of his schooling at Hokitika. He served-his time at the carpentering trade at Waimate before going to Timaru, where he entered the employ of the Union Steam Ship Company as a stevedore. He worked on the waterfront for 52 years until his retirement three years ago. After his retirement he was elected ,to the Harbour Board and served on it continuously until Ws death, though- since March be had not taken an active part through serious illness. In his younger days Mr Bradley was well known as an athlete and rifle shot and was a keen member of the volunteers. For many years Mr Bradley was a member of the directorate of the South Canterbury Caledonian Society and for a time its president. He was die founder of the North End Golf Club and its president for some years, and one of the' oldest members of the/Timaru Bowling Club and a former president of the South Canterbury Bowling Centre, He was also a member of the Timaru Domain Board at the time of his death, and a foundation member of the Druids' Lodge. In 1914, he was made a justice of the peace and was a staunch member of St Mary's Anglican Church, Mr Bradley leaves a family of 10, five sons and five daughters. They are -Messrs Percy Bradley, Arthur Bradley, Herbert Bradley, Wilfred Bradley (Timaru), Edward Bradley (Christchurch) Mrs W. Tubb, Jun. (Timaru), Mrs D. Scrimogeour (Ashburton), Misses Olive Bradley, Florence Bradley (Timaru), and Rita Bradley (Masterton).

John Henicker, labourer, chest crushed, is lying in the Royal Hotel.

D. Bradley who was working one of steer oars of the lifeboat, saw his two brothers in the water, and he jumped overboard and saved one, the other being saved by the boat's crew. 

Roderick Macdonald, shipwright

Bill Collis, the Harbour Board, who acted as coxswain, a brave staunch old Yarmouth boatman. 

Another youth belonging to the City of Perth, Langridge by name, seeing that a shipmate was unable to contend with the waves through and not being a good swimmer, swam up to him, took out his sheath knife and cut the clothes off his friend, thus giving him the free use of his arms.

A special meeting of the Timaru Harbour held 15 May 1882. There were present Messrs. F. Archer (Chairman), W. Evans, T. Teschemaker, J.H. Sutter, and R. Turnbull.
William Collis was called in, and he described from the time he went out in the boat with Captain Mills till his rescue by the lifeboat and return to the shore. The board after a short consultation appointed William Collis as Harbour Master temporarily. Also present was the Engineer, Mr Goodall.

May 17. Star A special meeting of the Harbour Board was held yesterday.  Present - Messrs Archer, Evans, Gray, His Worship the Mayor, Turnbull, Moody, Mee, Teschemaker, Barker and M. Studholme.  Captain Dunsford, Marine Surveyor asking for surf boats to discharge the City of Perth. Captain Charles S. Bascand appointed Harbour Master of this Port.

It was the events which followed the wrecks that lent the supreme interest to the spectacle - the fatal mishap to the boats, the heroic efforts of the life-boat's crew to reach and rescue their perishing comrades, the long hours of terror and the suspense during which the struggle protracted. - Otago Witness

The annual Seafarers' Service is held the third Sunday in October with a parade lead by the Timaru Municipal Brass Band including ex-naval men, crews from one or two HMNZS vessels, the Endeavour Sea Scouts and representatives from other armed services Timaru, a wreath-laying at the Benvenue monument then on to St Mary's for a service. 

Civilians did play a part in the rescue bid. William Pember Reeves worked up to his waist in water, he was later a famed Liberal politician. District judge Charles Dudley Robert Ward, 55, was a big man physically and intellectually, standing six feet and a half in height, broad of back and massive in limb and feature. The judge plunged into the surf in frock coat and top hat, towing a rope. Chains of men dragged survivors from the backwash and to one of these Ward acted as anchor, his strength and weight making him invaluable for that position.

Marlborough Express 12 Sept 1868 p3 Letter of naturalisation
Antonio ROSE Havelock
Mrs Ellen TEMPLETON Awatere
William EARLL

Timaru Herald, 22 May 1882, Page 2
The Lifeboat crew.  To the list of names of those who went off in the lifeboat on her second trip on Saturday, May 14th, must be added that of John Ivey, who works at Shears' brickyard, Timaru. He has we understand, done duty in the lifeboat service at Home.

The Star Wednesday 24 May 1882
Timaru - OLAREN - The body of William Olaren, boatman, one of the unfortunate fellows who was drowned on Sunday week, washed ashore at Dashing Rock this afternoon, and was taken charge of by the police. _____

The Star Wednesday 24 May 1882 Timaru - McLAREN -
The body of W. McLaren who was drowned on the occasion of the late wrecks, was recovered this afternoon. Another body, believed to be that of GARDINER, the 2nd mate of the City of Perth ______.

The Star Wednesday 24 May 1882 Wednesday 24 May 1882
Dunedin - BLACKLOCK -
Mr Blacklock, the chief officer of the City of Perth, who died at Timaru the other day leaves a widow and family unprovided for. His widow keeps a lodging-house in the East India Dock road, London.

Grey River Argus, 11 April 1916, Page 8 CAPTAIN.
Timaru Herald 4 April 1916 pg 9
The "Ardrossan and Saltscoat "Herald," Scotland, records the death, of Capt. John McGowan, who was in command of the Benvenue which was wrecked at Timaru in 1862.
The following is an extract from an obituary notice in the paper named : Captain McGowan took command of the clipper "Benvenue," owned by Messrs. Watson Brothers, Glasgow, and in this ship made a number of record passages between Scotland and Australia, in the wool trade. This vessel was ultimately wrecked by a great gale and tidal wave in Timaru Bay. New Zealand, in 1882. The Timaru disaster is one of the outstanding catastrophes in the annals of shipping. The "Benvenue" and "City of Perth" were anchored in the bay when the storm broke, and the ships were destroyed. In an attempt to save the crew of the "City of Perth," a life boat with the harbourmaster and six men was lost. Captain McGowan succeeded in bringing all his men ashore in his ship's boats. Captain McGowan was a man of wide reading, and was possessed of considerable mathematical ability and inventive genius. Only a few days before he passed away he was discussing the usefulness of an edition of Burn's poems, adapted for American readers. He had always the courage of his-political convictions and never wavered in his belief in Liberalism. The local organisation will sadly miss his cheery optimism and active co-operation. Memories of Captain McGowan will always conjure up a lovable kindly, warm-hearted townsman. He is survived by a widow and two sons. The elder, Captain William McGowan. is at present in command of H.M.A.S. Gilgan, and the younger Captain Archie McGowan, is serving with the 18th Battalion Highland Light Infantry.

Timaru Herald, 4 June 1919, Page 8 MR W. H. WALL
There passed away yesterday at his late residence, Edward Street, Timaru, a very old resident of Timaru, Mr William Henry Wall, at the age of 72 M.A.). reported, that the roll number England, came to New Zealand while a young man, and shortly after his arrival joined the railway service, where he remained until his retirement a few years ago. When the Benvenue and City of Perth were wrecked in the Timaru roadstead in May, 1882, Mr Wall was a, member of one of the boat crews which put out to the rescue, and his name is inscribed on the monument erected in, Sophia Street to commemorate the heroism of the rescuers. Mr Wall is survived by his widow and a grown-up family. Deceased's eldest .son, Mr W. Wall served in the Boer war, and was killed in the war just ended.

After the Storm - Timaru Beach

Timaru Herald Wednesday 8 November 1899
The New Zealand Shipping Company's ship Turakina, formerly well-known here as the City of Perth, which was sold to Norwegian owners, has had her name altered to Elida, and is registered AA1 at Lloyd's. Her misadventure at Timaru 17 years ago did not do her much harm.

Harbourmaster's papers donated.
21 November 2001 Timaru Herald

Anyone who ever doubted the competency of early Timaru harbourmaster Alexander Mills should take a look at the South Canterbury museum's latest acquisitions. Captain Mills was harbourmaster from 1868 until he died on Black Sunday, May 14 1882, the day both the Benvenue and the City of Perth were wrecked on what are now known as the Benvenue Cliffs. He died after his unsuccessful attempts to save the City of Perth. His grandchildren Leslie and Lance Dixon of Christchurch visited the local museum several months ago. On a return visit over the weekend they donated a number of documents museum director Philip Howe describes as "incredibly significant". Among them are the indenture papers of both Captain Mills (1847), and of his father-in-law Alexander Sinclair (1812). Also donated by the relatives were Captain Mills' master's certificate of competency, and his certificate of appointment as Timaru's harbourmaster. Such documents are interesting as Captain Mills apparently fell out of favour with the harbour board prior to the shipwrecks. Mr Howe said the harbourmaster often insisted on ships berthing further out where he considered they were safer, while the businessmen who ran the Landing Service Building were keen to have them come closer in where they could be unloaded more quickly. Several weeks before the two ships were wrecked the board had given him notice. When applications were called for the post, Captain Mills was reappointed - only 11 days before the shipwrecks. A history of the Port of Timaru published in 1955 notes his death caused considerable bitterness in the community. While it suggests he died from exhaustion, the coroner's inquest offers exposure as the likely cause of death. The indenture documents are also important as the museum has few employment-related documents from that era. The document covers matters relating to virtually every aspect of the apprentice's life during his three year apprenticeship - including keeping his secrets, not hurting his master or allowing anyone else to do so, not frequenting ale houses or taverns unless on the master's business, not getting married, or embezzling or wasting his master's goods.

Headstones for Unmarked Graves
Timaru Herald 14 May 2007

Graves unacknowledged for over a century were yesterday given fitting tributes. A ceremony in the Timaru cemetery yesterday morning saw the unveiling of a headstone and memorial plaques, thanks to years of effort by Dunedin man John Bradley. The discovery that his grandfather, Phillip Bradley, lay in an unmarked grave saw the retired headmaster decide to set the situation to rights. Phillip Bradley's parents brought their family to South Canterbury in the 1870s, having previously lived in Melbourne, the West Coast of New Zealand and Nelson. The headstone marks the resting place of Phillip Bradley, his wife Eliza Anne, and Phillip Junior. Phillip built many residential, commercial and industrial structures around Timaru, including his own two-storeyed home at 22 King Street and a shop on Marine Parade. He was Clerk of Works during the construction of the Eastern Extension of the harbour breakwater. Phillip built boats and worked as a boatman/waterman for the Timaru Harbour Board. Eliza Anne died in November 1929 at the age of 74, and was buried with her infant son, who died in 1882 aged just four months. When Phillip died in 1936, he was survived by his five children -- Charles, Henry, Annie, Eveline, May and George. All except George remained in Timaru and are buried in the cemetery.

"For some unknown reason, no memorial stone was erected to Phillip and his family on this site. Seventy years after his death this has now been rectified." A plaque also marks the 150th anniversary of Phillip's arrival in New Zealand, and the 125th anniversary of the sinking of the Benvenue and the City of Perth in Caroline Bay on May 14, 1882. Members of the Bradley family were major participants in the rescues involving the Benvenue and the City of Perth on Caroline Bay. "It is (a tale) of great bravery, involving skilled inshore handling of small craft, in storm conditions. Four members of the extended Bradley family were major participants that day -- Daniel, Phillip, Isaac, and brother-in-law George Sunaway, husband of sister Ann."

A second plaque marks the graves of two members of the Shirley family, a mystery uncovered during Mr Bradley's researches. Mr Bradley told yesterday's gathering that when he obtained burial information for the site -- Block A, Plot 48, he found noted on the document the burial of a child, eight-month-old Elizabeth Shirley, who was interred on May 16, 1875.
"This was a mystery as the ownership of this space was recorded as the Bradley plot." Two years later, Mr Bradley discovered that in the adjacent plot, number 49, her mother, also Elizabeth Shirley, aged 25, had been interred four days later. "After four years of attempting to trace their family details and any connection with our family, I have little to add. All I have sighted are two small postcard type photographs, among our family collection, of her husband John Richard Shirley. "I was left with the knowledge that a young infant was buried with members of our family. Her mother was buried in the adjacent plot. Both were unmarked. I believed they deserved better than that. I therefore resolved to add to our family memorial, this plaque, in remembrance of these two young people, and to also acknowledge their husband and father who had lost members of his family."

Timaru Herald, 25 May 1882, Page 2
An inquest touching the death of John William McLaren, who was drowned in the port, on May 14th, was held at the Melville Hotel yesterday afternoon, before B. Woollcombe, Esq., J.P. (Coroner), and a jury, of whom Mr R. B. Walcot was chosen foreman. The following evidence was taken : 
    Philip E. Thoreau: I am a constable, stationed at Timaru. Yesterday afternoon, about half-past two o'clock, while out at Splashing Point, I observed the body now lying here, floating in the surf off the rocks. About an hour afterwards it was washed ashore in among the rocks. I had it brought to this hotel.
    Philip Bradley : I am a licensed waterman living in Timaru. I have seen the body lying at this hotel and identify it as that of John William McLaren. He was a seaman by profession, was aged 32, and was unmarried. He had been out in the colony about three years. On May 14th he went afloat with me in a boat to the City of  Perth, following Captain Mills, the late Harbor Master. The vessel was lying in the roadstead, and hanging by a hawser, which she parted shortly after he got on board. We then left for the shore. We got inside the Breakwater, when another boat which was following us capsized and we put back to its assistance, and after picking one man up our own boat was swamped, burst open, and capsized. I saw McLaren get into the ship's lifeboat, out of which he was washed several times. I then left for the shore. When I last saw him he was bleeding profusely from a wound on the temple and shouting out " Save me." I identify the body as his by the clothing. The jury returned a verdict that the deceased met his death by drowning, on May 14th, while courageously attempting to care the lives of others.

Timaru Herald, 30 May 1882, Page 3
The adjourned inquest touching the deaths of Emmanuel Neilson, David Maclean and another who were drowned in the roadstead on Sunday, May 14th, was resumed at the Melville Hotel yesterday afternoon, before Joseph Beswick, Esq., Coroner, and a jury previously sworn in, Mr B. R. Taylor being foreman. The following evidence was taken :
Patrick Smith Brady: I am a constable stationed at Timaru.
Ralph Satchwell: I am a constable of police stationed at Timaru.
Charles Moore : I am a seaman. I went out in the whaleboat with Captain Mills to the City of Perth on the 14th inst. and which capsized. I knew Emmanuel Neilson. He was one of the whaleboat's crew. At the time we got capsized we were going back to the assistance of another boat. I did not see Neilson after our boat capsized.
William Collis: I recollect Sunday, May 14th, and the City of Perth being abandoned by her crew. I went with Captain Mills in a whaleboat to try and save the ship. Neilson was in our boat (the whaleboat). I did not see him after we were swamped. I saw Maclean (who bad been in the ship's lifeboat) as we put back. He was swimming strong, and sang out, "Never mind me, and waved us to go on and pick up another man.
Charles Staton: I work the beach occasionally.
Inspector Pender said this was all the evidence he could bring forward.
The police had done all they could to identify the third body at that of Bates, but without avail, as it was impossible to recognise him. The Coroner briefly addressed the jury as to the facts before them, adding that in the case of the unidentified body they must say "found drowned." The following verdict was returned: "That D. Maclean was drowned on the 14th May through the accidental upsetting of the City of Perth's lifeboat; that Emmanuel Neilson was drowned through the upsetting of a boat while courageously attempting to to save life and that on the body unknown a verdict of ' found drowned ' is returned."

Timaru Herald, 20 April 1882, Page 3
To the Editur of ther Timaru Hearald.
Dear Sur, I am a laberin' man, havin' come here in search of wurk by steemer Witaki. I have notissed in your valuble paper an advertizement fur Harbormaster fur Timaru. I "no" a good deal about harbers, havin' _oded ships at Melburn, Sidney, and elsewhere ; and thinkin' by the screw offered (300 pounds a year) that it wood not be rekisite to know much moare than a wurkin' man at that price, I would beg to ask throu your valuble collems if, in addition to that salary, they wood allow me to do a little bit of steveloring on my own account, purvidin I was apinted. I hear a locle man is not wanted or wun who knows anythin' about the harbor. Talents o "deserve" the place will be "deservedly" _nubbed. Then I can handel my fists. I won't have no skippers gassin' nround with heir protests. Me and my mate " Souter Johny " wil undertake to clear that Breakwater of any discontented "leaguers" in no time. Besides, we will be at the serviss of the man that apints me at any Board meetin'. woodent stand the nonsense of some on em. I wood ax you, Mr Editur, to state _listinctly wether the job is open to men of my standin'.
I am, &c,
J. N. Fleming, Laberer.
Timaru, April 18th, 1883.
[We must refer our correspondent to the Harbor Board. We should say he has a very good chance, of getting the situation he aspires to. ED. T.H.]

Timaru Herald, 20 April 1882, Page 3
THE Editor of the Timaru Herald
Sir, have been waiting, expecting some one with a more powerful pen than I possess, to take up the cudgels on behalf of Captain Mills, our present Harbormaster. Judging from the numerous and in most instances strong expressions of opinion which one hears from all classes of the community, I do not think those members of the Harbor Board who have, for some reasons of their own, been the means of getting him unshipped, any reason to be proud of their action. On the contrary, if they heard even some of the mildest terms in which opinions on their doings are expressed, they -would fool heartily ashamed of themselves. They make a great mistake if they think there are no people in Timaru who can see as far through a brick wall as they can, and take their professions of "public policy" for what they are worth. As they could bring no charge of in competency or neglect "barring the case of the "City of Cashmere, for the loss of which vessel Captain Mills was no way to blame"  against the Harbormaster they seek refuge in " public policy." I take it that the "public" feel anything but fluttered or pleased at such a "policy" being saddled with such a name. "Public," egad ! Well, if it is, we have precious little roaring to wish it aired to the world at large, and may well cry " Save us from our friends" (?enemies) for doing so. If Captain Mills is to blame for the loss of the City of Cashmere, how is it that all the masters of other vessels which have come here since have not only spoken so highly of him but have placed the most implicit confidence and trust in him ? Can Mr Turnbull, or Mr Evans, or any other of his detractors, point to one single instance of the master of a vessel in Timaru calling in question Captain Mills' judgment or his suitability for his position? No; nor can they, on the other hand, bring forward one but who will give him the highest character. ... I am, &c, Timaru.

Oh! Sunday fourteenth of May
No Christian rest is here today."

The Benvenue was an iron full rigged ship of 999 tons. Built in 1867 by Messrs. Barclay, Curle and Company of Glasgow, she was wrecked at Caroline Bay, Timaru in May 1882. Photo ca 1880, ATL.

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