Topic: S.S. Gairloch Wreck - 1903

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Inter-tidal at the end of Lower Timaru Road, Oakura. (Also accessible from Lower Weld Road via the Timaru Stream bridge.)

Gairloch Wreck

The Bow of S.S. Gairloch 

The bow of the Northern Steamship Company's S.S. Gairloch - wrecked in 1903 - may be seen on the beach a few kilometres west of Oakura.

The vessel was launched at Glasgow in 1884. She was designed for a stock, goods & passenger service for the west coast ports between Onehunga, and Nelson.

On 3 January 1903 under master, Captain Arthur Austin, she left Onehunga with a general cargo but with no passengers. Having called at Raglan & Kawhia, Gairloch made course for Opunake & Whanganui but at 11.40pm on  5 January she ran aground on Timaru Reef, a few kilometres west of Oakura. The 31 crew stayed on board until  morning, when they took two lifeboats and rowed to Port Taranaki..

 Although the ship was a total loss, she was well up the shore which made recovery of the salvagable cargo possible. A shipment of timber, two gigs and drapery were among the salvaged items, along with the ship's silverware and the crew's personal possessions. After the vessel broke up, locals were able to recover additional items which washed ashore. (See Web Links below)

The following weekend, West's Stables in New Plymouth advertised that they would run horse busses to the wreck site so that, by Sunday afternoon, over 500 picniking visitors were present on the beach and boarding the Gairloch.

A court of enquiry later in January found that Captain Austin had committed an error of judgement in coming so close to shore on a dark night. It suspended his master's certificate for three months and ordered him to pay £10 in costs.

Further Reading:

Bruce, David: Ship's Loss - Familiy's Gain (See Web link below)

de Jardine, Margaret: Shipwrecks on & off  the Taranaki Coast, The Author, [1981]

{Note: The entry for the Gairloch is mistakenly entered under 1887)



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S.S. Gairloch Wreck - 1903

S.S. Gairloch Wreck - 1903 by Ron is Copyright Act 1994