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

the Inconstant, Or Noah's Ark

page 357

the Inconstant, Or Noah's Ark.

An interesting story is connected with what Wellingtonians used to call Noah's Ark or Plimmer's Ark. Like Peggoty's famous domicile in "David Copperfield," the Ark was a ship ashore, but her real name was for a long while forgotten under the appellation of the Ark—either Plimmer's or Noah's. This Plimmer, of course, was old Mr. John Plimmer, one of the pioneers of Wellington, whose name was so closely connected with the capital city. The Ark's real name was the Inconstant, a ship which in 1850, when bound from Adelaide to Callao, ran short of water, and decided to put into Wellington to replenish her tanks. In beating up the entrance to the harbour, however, she missed stays, and struck on the rocks below Pencarrow. Although she was got off, the Inconstant was too badly damaged to repair, and was brought into the harbour in a sinking condition. She passed through several persons' hands and was finally bought by Mr. John Plimmer. The damaged craft was beached at what is now the Bank of New Zealand corner, Lambton Quay, Wellington. There were no jettys in those days, and old Mr. Plimmer made the hulk do double duty—a warehouse and wharf. He propped her up with beams, docked her with spoil from the cliff across the road, and put a top on her. In this guise she was used as a warehouse for many years, and her queer appearance earned for her the name of the Ark.

Gradually the foreshore was reclaimed, and what was once simply "The Beach" became Lambton Quay, and the.' Ark found itself gradually disappearing below the level of the roadway. When excavations were later being made for the foundations of the Bank of New Zealand's building, parts of the timbers of the old ship were exposed. From some of the oak a chair was made and it is now used by the chairman of the Bank of New Zealand Board of Directors. This interesting old chair bears a brass plate which reads: "The oak of which this chair was made was part of the barque Inconstant, which was stranded near Pencarrow Head on August 19, 1850, and was afterwards used by Mr. John Plimmer as a warehouse, known as "Noah's Ark," on the site where the bank now stands."