On Friday morning, July 7, between 2 and 3 o’clock, news was brought to Glenelg by the cutter Colleen Dawn of the stranding of the immigrant ship Lightning on Troubridge Shoal.
In running up the Gulf between 12 and 1 o’clock on the previous day, with the wind right aft, and under all sail, the vessel was run ashore between Hungry Point and the Lighthouse. To get off again was utterly impossible, although the attempt was made, and, in answer to the guns and signals from the ship, Harbour-Masters Wright and Allen put off in the Colleen to render what assistance they could under the circumstances. This was about 3 in the afternoon, and in the meantime the vessel had been hardened up, and remained on an even keel, stern on to the sea that was running, which was sufficiently heavy to render lying alongside in a small boat a rather unpleasant position. The stay on board was short, and the cutter was again chartered to carry the news and a telegram to the Harbour-Master at Glenelg, Mr. Dagwell, who at once forwarded it on to the authorities at Port Adelaide.
Immediately upon receipt of the disastrous information Messrs. Elder, Smith & Co., in conjunction with the Government, took steps to send the necessary aid to the ship-wrecked passengers. The steamer Flinders and the steam-tugs Eleanor and Sophia were ordered to get up steam at once and make for the vessel, the Eleanor calling at the Semaphore for a lifeboat, and taking Mr. A.S.Chapman, of Messrs. Elder, Smith & Co., Mr. G.Boothby, Secretary of the Mercantile Marine Insurance Company, and representatives of the press. The steam-tug Glenelg was at Port Victor, but a telegram was sent to her to sail direct to Troubridge. Telegrams were also sent to Port Pirie and Port Augusta addressed to Captain Ferguson, who was absent in the Governor Musgrave, instructing him to proceed at once to the wreck and give every possible assistance. The object of the Government in arranging to send so many steamers was to prevent the danger which might result from a rush of passengers if only one vessel was sent.
The Lightning is a fine ship of 1,248 tons, net registered tonnage. Her dimensions are;
Length, 210 ft. 8 ins; Breadth, 35 ft; Depth, 23 ft. She was built at Hull in the year 1863 by the building firm of Samuelson & Co. for Mr. G.D.Tyser, whose ships have been consigned to Elders, Smith and Co. for many years past. She was comanded by Captain Cameron, who has had charge of her for some years. The present was her first voyage to Australia. Owing to the fact of her carrying immigrants she had not a large cargo. Its value is under 10,000 pounds. She sailed from London on the 30th March with 406 emigrants bound for Adelaide. As we understand there will be a strict enquiry into the causes of the accident, we do not care to give publicity to the different rumours that are afloat.
It is said, however, that after sighting Cape Borda, the mate shaped a course clear of Troubridge, but the Master countermanded his instructions. The mate again shifted the course, but the captain gave contrary orders, saying that the vessel should go between the Lighthouse and the shore. The consequences was that she ran upon the shoal which has before proved so fatal to other ships. Fortunately the weather continued fine or the result would have been very disastrous.
Some of the passengers were speedily taken on shore to the Lighthouse, and these with those who remained on board were ultimately brought onto Adelaide by the ketch Edith Alice and the Eleanor. After the vessel grounded, and a portion of the passengers had been landed, the single men remaining on board broke into the hold and indulged in intoxicating drink, and a scene of great confusion ensued. Happily all the immigrants have been brought safely to Adelaide. But the painful circumstances leading to the accident, as well as the conduct of some of the passengers afterwards, show most forcibly the urgent need that there is for such an amendment of the Marine Board Act as will enable the authorities not only to hold enquiries into the cause of shipping disasters, but to visit those who are guilty of neglect with the fitting punishment.
It would scarcely be wise at the present stage to say much as to the conduct of the captain. This can be more fittingly done when the whole circumstances have been investigated by the proper authorities. It is scarcely possible, however, to refrain from the expression of the deepest regret that almost at the same moment the news of two shipping disasters should be made public, both of which seem to inflict a blow upon the credit of the colony. In the case of the Lightning, the fact appears to be that some hundreds of immigrants were sent out to our shores in a vessel which in broad daylight was run on to a well defined shoal. Such a circumstance, however it may admit of an explanation, is at least most unfortunate at the present time, when we are bringing out immigrants to our colony in large numbers. It is only right that we should acknowledge the very prompt and efficient measures taken by the Government to rescue the passengers as speedily as possible from their perilous position.
The safety of her passengers having been assured, prompt measures were taken to get the cargo out of the vessel, and thus render her light enough to enable a steamer to tow her off into deep water. Very little assistance could be obtained from the majority of the crew, who showed signs of insubordination when their united efforts were most needed, and therefore outside aid had to be depended upon.
Captain Dale, representing the Underwriters Association, sent a gang of 18 lumpers by the steamtug Eleanor, to take out as much of the cargo as possible. The Eleanor, under command of Captain Craigie, started about 11 on Saturday morning, July 8, taking in tow the Tasman and Edith Alice. Leaving them at the mouth of the Port River to come on under sail, she steamed on to the wreck, which she reached in the afternoon. The work of discharging was already proceeding, and the Glenelg, steamer, had taken a good deal out of her.
Some of the ketches had also removed a portion of the cargo and the work went on briskly all night. The Eliza, steamer, also lent her aid, so that had the Lightning been possessed of appliances for discharging over both sides, she could have been speedily emptied with the assistance at hand.
She had over 1,000 tons of cargo in her hold, much of it being dead weight- viz, heavy material for the Port Bridge, iron telegraph poles, iron wire, &c., and it was necessary to get the major portion of this out before she could be stirred from her position.
The Glenelg took away about 200 tons of cargo as well as a quantity of luggage on the next morning early, and after calling at Edithburgh, which bore about N.E. from the wreck, distant three miles, went onto Port Adelaide.The Musgrave took away a lot of luggage, and the Eliza, steamer, left with about 30 tons.
The vessel soon showed the good effects of so much heavy stuff having been removed from her hold, but could not be stirred from her position. A steady strain was kept on the cable, however, and it was resolved to set the Eleanor to tow her off at high water on Sunday afternoon.
The flood tide combined with the strong strain aft loosened the vessel’s bows from their sandy bed, and when the Eleanor got a hawser fastened to the ship’s stern and steamed ahead about 3 pm she was seen to move. After hard steaming for nearly an hour the Lightning came off the bank, and was towed into deep water.
The Eleanor then got a hawser from the ship’s bows and towed her safely to the Semaphore, which she reached about 1.30 am on July 10. She was towed up to the Port with the morning’s tide.
As much interest has been excited respecting the Lightning, Mr. E.L.Sands, of Port Adelaide, took a very clear photograph of her as she lay on the shoal. It is announced that the official enquiry will be held into the circumstances connected with the accident.
The Lightning, with 406 Immigrants on board, ran ashore under all sail, in the middle of the day on July 6, on Troubridge Shoal, in St. Vincent’s Gulf, about 45 miles from Port Adelaide.
The news of the disaster brought by the cutter Colleen Dawn, and immediate steps were taken by the authorities for the safety of the immigrants, who were taken to the Semsphere and Port Adelaide by various craft chartered for the purpose. The vessel remained aground in an upright position until the afternoon of July 9, when, having been considerably lightened by the removal of a portion of her cargo into a steamer, and several ketches engaged by the Underwriters Association, she was hauled off by the steamtug Eleanor and towed up to Port Adelaide, where it was ascertained that she had received little or no injury by grounding.
Just recently I received a copy of the story of one branch of my family tree. One of my great grandfathers was Edward Waters Gray. This was his introduction to living in Australia. You have got to love the “Official” language used :O)
PS Greats can be confusing try this run down :
Josiah was my great great grandfather
Edward was my great grandfather
Harold was my grandfather
Alexander is my father