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Elginshire Wreck 1892

ELGINSHIRE, steamer : On the morning of March 9, 1892, the steamer struck on a reef about 200 yards from the shore off Normanby Point. The vessel was bound from Oamaru to Timaru to continue loading for London. There was a dense fog along the coast, and the vessel veered from her course landward. She was observed off Normanby, steaming very close to the beach, by a railway employee. He was asked by those on board the position of the ship, and told the officers the Elginshire was five miles south of Timaru. Southward from that spot is a straight beach, just north of the Dolerite Reef, and the steamer stranded on the beach with her head turned seaward. The tug Mana was despatched from Timaru, and after the fog had cleared a hawser was passed on board and an attempt made to tow the steamer off. She moved very slightly at high water, but all efforts to tow her off were futile. Two additional tugs were engaged in another attempt at refloating, but proved a failure. The Elginshire was then abandoned to the underwriters. The ship had loaded a considerable quantity of frozen cargo, the greater part of which was salvaged, but the steamer ultimately became a total loss.

An inquiry into the circumstances connected with the loss of the Elginshire was held at Timaru on March 19. The court found that at 7 a.m., when the land was seen and the breakers heard, the course altered to north-east, and the soundings having decreased in depth, the master made an error of judgement in not altering the course to east so as to go out to sea at right angles to his former course. He should also, from time to time, as he changed his latitude, have found the error of his compasses. The captain's certificate, and also those of his officers, were returned to them, but the master was ordered to pay the cost of the inquiry.

The Elginshire was a steel, screw steamer of 4,579 tons gross and 2,980 tons net register, built at Newcastle in 1891 by Swan and Hunter, and her dimensions were: length 364 ft., beam 48 ft., depth 27.9 ft. She was under the command of Captain William Anderson Miller, R.N.R., who superintended the construction of the vessel, and was owned by the Shire Line, for whom she had been completed only five months previous to her loss. (See plate 35.)


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