The Wreck of the Hydrabad
7: Captain, crew and cargo
7: Captain, crew and cargo
At the time of her wreck Hydrabad carried a crew of 32 and two passengers. The crew comprised the captain, three mates, boatswain, carpenter, sailmaker, cook, eighteen able seamen, an ordinary seaman, four apprentices and a stewardess. The passengers were Mrs Holmwood and her son, Alan.
It is common for New Zealand families to trace their origins back to the ship their ancestors arrived on. A few families can date their New Zealand origins from the wreck of the Hydrabad. Chief among them are the Holmwoods — for the captain did not return to the sea but took up land in the Wairarapa.
Captain Charles Holmwood, Hydrabad (Courtesy Mrs. B. Mudgway).
South Australian locomotive built from the frames of Canterbury number 1, (Cedric Green Collection, New Zealand Locomotive and Railway Society).
While Captain Holmwood was engaged on the salvage work he lived at Whyte's Hotel in Foxton and the two families became friends. Within a month of the wreck he was considering settling in Foxton or Palmerston North. He was then aged 43. The Manawatu Times commented that 'being a gentleman possessed of large and independent means he would prove a most desirable addition to the settlers in the district.'
Whatever the real value of his means the salvage efforts soon wore them down. In an attempt to recover his costs he sued the Mercantile Marine Insurance Company of South Australia for $9,038. The case was heard before the Chief Justice over the 17 and 18 January 1881. The basis of Captain Holmwood's claim was that his expenses, which had been advanced by Bethune and Hunter and debited to him and the ship's owners, had been for the benefit of the cargo insurers. Thomas Bowe said his expenses would have been $1,600 more if the ship's gear had not been used. But Captain Gibbon, who said he had known Captain Holmwood for twenty years, claimed he had never authorised him to spend money, nor had he ever instructed him to do anything. Captain Holmwood agreed that reimbursement was 'never distinctly promised'. The defence challenged the general average statement, which apportioned costs between the owners of the cargo and the owners of the ship, saying it was incomplete and page 86 inaccurate. T. H. Mabin, who had prepared it, countered that Captain Gibbon had declined to give him any information. By the time complex evidence, including statements from South Australia, had been presented only three of the original fifteen issues were left for the jury to consider. They ruled that, 'although Captain Holmwood had incurred expense and lost gear in the interests of the cargo, he had not done so at the request of the defendants or their agents and was not therefore entitled to recover.' Prior to this case Captain Holmwood had purchased 76 hectares (190 acres) at Opaki, seven kilometres from Masterton. At 'Bushcroft' the family was together for the first time. The captain was no great success as a farmer and his sons contributed to the family income by undertaking contracting work in the district. On one occasion Edgar had to take a five-horse wagon laden with wheat to Chamberlain's mill in Masterton. A bridge across a small creek required new decking and the captain undertook to have the job done before Edgar came back. On his return Edgar demurred that the deck was too narrow but was assured that the captain had measured it carefully and that there were fully two inches to spare. Edgar replied that it might be all right for the captain to dock the Hydrabad with two inches to spare but he would be damned if he would drive a wagon with a five-horse team over such a small tolerance.
After eight or nine years the captain retired to Masterton and some years later leased the farm to his son Charles. Mrs Holmwood died on 11 March 1908 at the age of 66; Captain Holmwood died ten years later on 23 October 1918 aged 83. Both were buried in the Masterton cemetery.
Another New Zealand family who can trace their page 87 origins back to the wreck are the descendants of the ship's carpenter, Charles McLean, and his wife, Mary, who served as stewardess. Since Mrs McLean became more of a companion to Mrs Holmwood than a stewardess, they had probably sailed together for some years. After the stranding McLean sailed in the inter-colonial trade and his wife lived in Australia. Their son, Alan Holmwood McLean, was born in Lismore, New South Wales, on 21 May 1887. Shortly after this the McLeans moved to Port Chalmers where Charles became a shipwright with the Union Steam Ship Company. He had led an adventurous life since he left his birthplace on the Isle of Tiree, Scotland — for he had been shipwrecked off Cape Horn and been left with small-pox in Chile. His wife, Mary, was from London though her family had Danish origins. The McLeans had nine children, all of whom had successful careers, some with academic distinction.
The loss of Hydrabad was the unlikely beginning of a highly successful career at sea for one of her apprentices, Lionel Hugh Campbell Worrall. The apprentices were unpaid officer cadets, aged between 14 and 18. Merchant ships normally carried at least four. Worrall was born at Clonnel, Ireland, on 20 April 1860. He served his cadet training in H.M.S. Worcester, in the Thames, London, where one of his contemporaries, was Admiral Togo famous for his victories in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. After the wreck Worrall stayed in New Zealand serving in sailing ships until he gained his Home Trade Mate's Certificate on 4 December 1884. He joined the steamer Huia as mate and a year later gained his Home Trade Master's Certificate. In June 1886 he joined the Union Steam Ship Company as second mate of the steamer Moa and was promoted to first mate of the Oreti in page 88 November 1888. He married and settled in Roslyn, Dunedin where he had a family of three sons and a daughter.
Having gained his Foreign Master's Certificate in November 1895 he was given command of the Mawhera on 31 May 1897. Successively he commanded the Wainui (1), Upolu, Mapourika, Rotorua (1), Penguin, Waikare, Monowai (1), Moeraki, Aparima, Talune (1) Marama, Mokoia and Manuka. In 1911 Captain Worrall was sent to Glasgow to oversee the completion of the passenger liner Maunganui which he commanded throughout the First World War, making many troop-carrying voyages. He took over the Mokoia in August 1919 and from her passed to the Manuka, and then to the Maunganui, Marama and Makura in the San Francisco Royal Mail Service.
None of Hydrabad's officers are known to have stayed permanently in New Zealand. Though Chief Officer List stayed by the ship he may well have been too young and inexperienced for the responsibilities placed on him. Both Captains Gibbon and King criticised him and eventually Captain Holmwood and Bethune and Hunter agreed that his continued employment was a mistake.
The second mate, twenty-two-year-old Scotsman, David Wylie, was in more serious trouble. After the stranding he stayed at Westwood's Temperance Hotel in Foxton with Arthur Aldridge, another of the ship's apprentices. Aldridge had charge of List's revolver, but Wylie took it and sailed for Wellington in the Jane Douglas. There he was arrested on board the Tui before it left for Lyttelton. He was taken back to Foxton where the case was heard before Judge R. Ward on 17 July 1878. His explanation that he only intended to shoot seagulls and return the revolver was rejected and he was sentenced to three months hard labour in the Wanganui Gaol.
Of the rest of Hydrabad's crew only a few names and details survive. Two of the able seamen at least remained in New Zealand. Griffiths settled in Wellington where he founded a cartage business. John P. Ella stayed in Foxton long enough to work for Kelty until the fire. Presumably Angus McLeod, Henry Warnken, and the other members of the crew whose names were not recorded, returned to the sea following their discharge from the Hydrabad at Wellington.
It is hardly surprising that the South Australian page 92 Government was reluctant to accept the railway equipment originally shipped on the Hydrabad. Repeated flooding of the lower hold to prevent the ship drifting inshore must have caused considerable damage. It was not until December 1880, after the insurers agreed to pay $14,205 to the South Australian Railways for repairs that the first of the Hydrabad's Canterbury locomotives entered service.
However three of the locomotives were not among Hydrabad's cargo. They were carried from Lyttelton by the 1,332-ton Shaw, Savill ship Bulwark. She had sailed for Adelaide under Captain G. T. Seator on 5 September 1878 after ten weeks in port. In January 1879 the shunting engine Dolly Varden, now T class number 38, and Canterbury number 4, temporarily renumbered 42, began their new careers. Dolly Varden worked for twenty-six years before being condemned in October 1905 and scrapped in August 1909. The third locomotive, Canterbury number 3, joined number 4 in April 1880. They became 'E' class numbers 50 and 49 respectively. It was not until December 1881 that Canterbury number 2 entered service as 'E' class number 51. This locomotive was rebuilt in 1884 to take a tender and the former two were possibly similarly converted the following year. As tender locomotives they were reclassified 'EZ' until 1892. Number 50 was scrapped in 1900 but the two others were not finally disposed of until 1929.
The wooden ship Bulwark at Port Adelaide in 1879 after delivering the remainder of the Canterbury rolling stock. (A. D. Edwardes Collection, State Library of South Australia).
Canterbury numbers, 5,6,7,8, and 10 were renumbered 43 to 47 and became the first group of South Australia's 'M' class. They began operational service successively from December 1880 to November 1881 and were withdrawn during the First World War, for scrapping in 1922.
All the Canterbury rolling stock must have been mainly used in the south-east of South Australia, for after 1886 no further 5' 3" gauge lines were built for twenty years. The north and west of the state had 3'6" lines linking Peterborough with the Broken Hill mines and the wheat districts with the northern ports. Across the state ran the 4'81/2" gauge Trans-Australia line. However there was plenty of work for all the Canterbury equipment to help justify the expense and efforts of its recovery from the wreck of Hydrabad.