People and Places
03/09/2021
Death at The Heads in 1852
by MAURIE HUTCHINSON - President, Peninsula Ship Society

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s.s. Conside would have looked very much like this early steamer, built four years later on the Tyne.

Nine passengers lost their lives on the night of Wednesday, September 15, 1852, when the steamer Conside struck the outer reef at Point Lonsdale. The ship had left Sydney 10 days earlier but, because of bad weather, was behind schedule. It is believed this caused the captain to attempt to enter Port Phillip on a night with poor visibility and strong wind. About an hour before the s.s. Conside arrived off Point Nepean, the schooner Portland had struck the same reef. Captain William Appleby assumed that the lights of the stranded schooner were those of a ship passing safely through The Heads and attempted to follow.

Death at The Heads in 1852

Paige on the set of The Bachelor Australia.

When the steamer struck the reef, panic broke out among the passengers. Some of them attempted to launch a boat but were thrown into the sea. The ship’s agents reported that there were 170 persons aboard but the only lives lost were from among these. A group of men began looting property, but with the help of his officers, Captain Appleby was able to destroy all of the liquor before it could be taken. Moving at more than nine knots, the ship had passed over the reef but was held firmly by its stern, with the bow in deeper water. A large amount of luggage was saved, as was the cash from the safe. The ship broke up over the next two days with the loss of most of the cargo.

The s.s Conside was an iron single-screw steamer built in 1848 at South Shields, on the Tyne River, UK. She was 32m in length and was powered by an engine of 80 horsepower. Initially used in the coal trade to Europe, she was moved to the west coast of the US in 1851, but unable to find profitable employment there, she sailed for Australia. Her crossing of the Pacific from San Francisco to Sydney, which was perhaps the first made by a steamer, took 70 days, but 54 of these were under sail. Arriving on February 14, 1852, Conside was sold at auction on March 19 and completed four round voyages between Sydney and Melbourne before the disaster.

MAURIE HUTCHINSON
President, Peninsula Ship Society

The Peninsula Ship Society meets at Hastings Yacht Club on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 10am. Visitors are always welcome.

9787 5780

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