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White Wings Vol I. Fifty Years Of Sail In The New Zealand Trade, 1850 TO 1900

Once a Freezer

Once a Freezer.

With such a sound old hull the Edwin Fox did not suffer the usual fate of the wooden craft, and she played rather an important part in the early days of the freezing industry of New Zealand. As those who have followed the history of the industry are aware, there were no land freezing works when the industrypage 46started. The freshly-slaughtered carcases were taken straight aboard the ship, and there frozen. Refrigerating plant was fitted in the Edwin Fox in London by the Shaw, Savill Company, and she was sent out to Dunedin to act as freezing and store-ship to the other vessels of the company that had been fitted up to carry frozen meat Home. This was in the year 1885.

Still living in Auckland is Mr. H. Weatherilt, who came out in the Edwin Fox on this voyage to Dunedin as engineer-in chief for the Union Steamship Co. He fitted up all the machinery in the ship, and had the entire management for five years, until she went to Napier. Subsequently Mr. Weatherilt was appointed senior superintendent of machinery and surveyor of ships for the New Zealand Government. He held this position for many years, and retired in June, 1912. Mr. Weatherilt, it will be remembered, was one of eight survivors rescued from the raft sent out from the ill-fated Elingamite, wrecked on the Three Kings on November 9, 1902. He with seven others were 5½ days on the raft before being picked up by H.M.s. Penguin.

Mr. J. Gibb, who was employed on the Edwin Fox in her new capacity, is also alive, and living at Napier in good health. Mr. Gibb had then been in the employ of the company for several years, sailing in the seventies as boatswain of the Nelson and the Canterbury. When the Edwin Fox arrived at Port Chalbers in 1885 Mr. Gibb was sent aboard to dismantle the superfluous gear and assist in getting her ready for the ensuing season's freezing. After being used at Port Chalmers for a few years the Fox was sent up to Lyttelton, then to Gisborne, and later to the Bluff, and then finally she was sent to Picton under engagement to freeze for the Wairau Company. After two seasons the Christchurch Meat Company, now the New Zealand Refrigerating Co., bought the Fox, and Mr. Gibb went with her. A season later the company built works ashore, and the old vessel was stripped and hauled up in shallow water, where she now lies, and is used as a coal hulk for the works.