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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

Timaru Harbour

Timaru Harbour.

Timaru Harbour lies deep down in the bight extending from the Waitaki river on the south to Banks' Peninsula on the north, and is fairly protected from southerly seas by the reefs which project from Patiti Point. It was in the very early days—days long prior to the advent of the white settlers—known and used by the Maoris as a halting place on the long harbourless eastern coast. There warlike Maoris from Dunedin and the south rested previous to resuming their tedious canoe journey northwards
Timaru Harbour: 1898.

Timaru Harbour: 1898.

page 973 to do battle with their immemorial enemies of the North Island. Between the years of 1852 and 1857 the work of shipping wool and landing supplies at Timaru was carried on by means of whaleboats, with no convenience for beaching and landing. The business of loading and unloading even small vessels was always slow and tedious and oftentimes dangerous. There was, however, no other way in which settlers could get away wool or other produce or obtain their supplies. However, in the year 1857 Messrs H. J. LeCren and Cain opened a store, and with it a landing and shipping service, carried on with small surf-boats, which were hauled up on the beach by means of a capstan. The landing place was the site of the present Harbour Board's service. In 1865 the shipping facilities were improved by the erection of the boat sheds, now owned by the Harbour Board, and by the introduction of a steam engine for hauling up the boats. This engine was for a time looked upon as a piece of great extravagance, and a return to manual labour was recommended, owing to the cost of the coal used in getting up steam. Two further boating services were subsequently started at the foot of George Street.
Caroline Bay, Timaru.

Caroline Bay, Timaru.

Before any protective works were made, wrecks were very common at Timaru. Fortunately they were not often attended with loss of life, yet the services of the Rocket Brigade were frequently called into requisition. Between the sites of the present railway station and the Club Hotel, a fine coasting steamer was once washed up, but was afterwards successfully refloated. In 1882 the ships “City of Perth” and “Benvenue” broke adrift from their moorings, and were driven ashore a little to the north of Caroline Bay, where the “Benvenue” was completely wrecked, but the “City of Perth” was afterwards refloated. These wrecks occasioned a display of heroism by the townspeople, in commemoration of which the monument now near the Post Office was erected. At the time the vessels began to drift the crews were on shore, and Captain Mills, the harbourmaster, with a crew of boatmen, and two other boats containing the captain and crew of the “Benvenue,” went off to try to save the ship. It was found that nothing could be done, so they returned. In returning, a boat containing sailors was capsized; other boats then put off to rescue them, and these also were swamped. Finally, the local lifeboat was manned and made three trips, and, after being several times capsized by the enormous waves, succeeded in rescuing many of the struggling men. In this effort to save life Captain Mills and eight others, besides three of the sailors, perished. Happily such casualties are now things of the past.

Dashing Rocks, Timaru.

Dashing Rocks, Timaru.

The Timaru Harbour Board was constituted under the Timaru Harbour Board Act, 1876, and came into active operation in 1877, when steps were at once taken to construct an artificial harbour. Competitive designs were invited, and that of Mr. John Goodall for a concrete breakwater was adopted. Mr. Goodall's designs, however, were modified and enlarged as the work proceeded. The first contract for a mole 300 feet long was let to Messrs Allan and Stumbles in 1878, and subsequent contracts to Messrs Jones and Peters, and to Messrs Palliser and Jones. The harbour, as now constructed, is enclosed on the south-east side by a concrete breakwater, which was begun in October, 1878, and finished in December, 1887, under the supervision of Mr. F. W. Marchant. The breakwater is 30 feet wide at the top, and has been run out from the beach in a north-east by north direction for 1250 feet; trending then to the north by a six chain curve, it is continued for a further 1028 feet, making a total length of 2278 feet, exclusive of 150 feet of approaches. The cost of this work has been £219,518. On the north-east side the harbour is enclosed by a rubble wall 2400 feet long, the end of which is piled. The space enclosed is fifty acres, and the total expenditure on account of the construction of the breakwater, north wall, and wharves has been £281,000. Authority has been given to proceed with the construction of a rubble mole from the bend of the present breakwater in a north-easterly and northerly direction, to form an outer harbour. The proposed length of this mole is 3000 feet, and in July, 1903, it had been formed for a length of 1800 feet. Its beneficial effects have already been felt in the reduced range of the harbour, allowing of such vessels as the “Delphic,” “Tongariro,” “Essex,” and others to lie at the wharves in perfect safety. The cost of this addition to the end of 1902 was £82,000. Wharfage sufficient for the present trade has been provided, and also steam cranes. The wharves are connected with the railway service, and are worked by the railway department with excellent despatch. The large steamers of the Shaw, Savill and Albion, New Zealand Shipping Company, Federal and other lines, visit the port regularly for cargoes of frozen meat, the wharves frequently being taxed to the utmost to supply berthage accommodation. To provide for this, the main wharf is being extended 100 feet and the wooden wharf 250 feet. The Harbour Board maintains a powerful suction dredge, page 974 specially ordered from England, which is also utilised as a tug. The dredge is kept employed in deepening the entrance and the enclosed basin. The registered tonnage of shipping entering the port has increased from 58,402 tons in 1883 to 283,425 in 1902, and the dead weight of cargo handled in 1883 was 62,492 tons, that of 1902 being 124,497 tons. Timaru's principal imports are general merchandise, timber and coal, and the chief exports bread stuffs, potatoes, frozen mutton, grain and wool. The ordinary revenue of the port from dues in 1883 was £6356; and in 1902 it was £19,809, which is supplemented by a district harbour rate of £7007 to meet the annual interest on the several loans. The members of the Board for the term 1903–5 are: Messrs W. Evans (chairman), D. C. Turnbull, and T. D. Young, representing the burgesses of the borough of Timaru; A. C. Pringle and John Hole, returned by the ratepayers of Levels County; G. Lyall, representing the Pareora district of Waimate county; J. Manchester, elected by the Makikihi rate-payers of Waimate county; J. E. Goodwin, representing Mackenzie county; J. Fraser, representing the ratepayers of Temuka road district; R. Skinner, representing Geraldine road district; and R. Thew, elected by the ratepayers of Mount Peel road district. The officers of the Board are: Messrs W. J. Bardsley, Secretary and Treasurer; A. E. Austin. A.M.I.C.E., Resident Engineer; and Capt. T. N. Clarkson, Harbourmaster. The Harbour Board offices are situated on the reclaimed land in Wharf Street, Timaru.

Mr. William Evans, Chairman of the Timaru Harbour Board, has, with slight intermissions, been a member of the Board since about the year 1882. He takes a keen interest in the welfare of the port, and spends a great deal of time in connection with the Board, of which he has been chairman since 1899. Mr. Evans is further referred to in connection with the Atlas Roller Flour Mills, of which he is the proprietor.

Mr. George Lyall, J.P., Member of the Timaru Harbour Board, is a native of Kincardineshire, Scotland. He was born in 1849, and from a comparatively early age devoted himself to farming and pastoral pursuits. Landing in Lyttelton by the “Mermaid” he found employment for a short time in the Rakaia Gorge, and in 1868 came to South Canterbury, where he entered the service of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company at their Levels estate. He remained in their employment as farm manager at the Levels, Totara Valley, and Cave stations for some years, and since 1890, has been general manager of the Pareora estate, a property of some 10,000 acres, near Timaru. In 1891, he was elected member of the Waimate County Council, and four years later one of the representatives of the county on the Timaru Harbour Board. Mr. Lyall has always taken a lively interest in the affairs of the Timaru Agricultural and Pastoral Association, of which body he was elected chairman in 1897—a year which marked a great expansion in its operations Mr. Lyall is also a trustee of the Pareora Domain Board, and of the Waimate Hospital Board. He takes a great interest in the welfare of his district, and was instrumental in getting a school established at the Cave. Mr. Lyall is married and has seven children.

Mr. G. Lyall.

Mr. G. Lyall.

Mr. John Manchester, who represents the Makikihi riding of the Waimate county on the Timaru Harbour Board, is referred to more particularly in connection with Waimate, of which he was Mayor for a number of years.

Mr. Alexander Campbell Pringle, J.P., Member of the Timaru Harbour Board, was born in 1843 at Newstead, near Melrose, Roxburghshire, Scotland, where he was educated and was engaged in the building trade with his father. Mr. Pringle arrived in Lyttelton by the ship “Mermaid” on the 1st of January, 1866. After being two years in Timaru, he turned farmer and was for fourteen years engaged in pastoral pursuits in the South Canterbury district, eventually acquiring the “Roxburgh” farm of 1600 acres at Claremont, where he has since resided. Mr. Pringle, who has been a member of the Timaru Harbour Board since 1893, is also a member of the Canterbury Land Board and Land Purchase Board, the Caledonian Society, Timaru Agricultural and Pastoral Society, South Canterbury Hunt Club, and Levels County Council. He is married, and has four children.

Mr. David Clarkson Turnbull, who has been a member of the Timaru Harbour Board since March, 1900, was born in Timaru in 1868. He was educated and brought up to mercantile life in his native place, and, in 1894, founded the firm of D. O. Turnbull and Co., grain and produce merchants. Mr. Turnbull was married, in 1897, to a daugter of Captain Thomas Roberts, of Scotland, and has two sons.

Mr. William Julian Bardsley, Secretary and Treasurer of the Timaru Harbour Board, was born at Stockport, England, in 1865. He came out to Port Chalmers in 1876 by the ship “Columbus,” and was brought up to mercantile life in Dunedin. After gaining experience in various parts of the colony, he was selected for his present position from thirty-three applicants, at the end of 1902. Mr. Bardsley, was married, in 1897, to a daughter of Mr. T. Jefcoate, Inspector of Railways for Southland, and has one son and one daughter. He has always taken an active interest in matters of public importance and also in Oddfellowship.

Mr. Albert Ernest Austin, A.M.I.C.E., Engineer to the Timaru Harbour Board, was born in Nelson, in 1862. He was articled to Mr. John Rochfort, engineer and surveyor, of Nelson, and passed an examination as authorised surveyor in 1884. Having passed his examination, he entered the Government service as Assistant Engineer on the East and West Coast railway surveys, and afterwards was appointed Assistant Engineer to the Westport Harbour Board, where he remained for three years. In 1889 Mr. Austin went to Brazil, where he was engaged principally in the laying out and construction of railways, and water works, in the interior of that country. Shortly after returning to New Zealand he was appointed to his present position in Timaru.

Captain Thomas Nicolson Clarkson, Harbourmaster and Pilot at Timaru, was born in London, and went to sea as a lad. At the age of twenty he took his master's certificate. He has been harbourmaster at Timaru since 1886. In 1856 Captain Clarkson married Miss Brighton, of Lyttelton, and has had seven sons and seven daughters; three sons and one daughter have died.

Mr. Peter Sinclair, foreman blacksmith at the Timaru Harbour Board's engineering works, was born in Coupar-Angus, Perthshire, Scotland, on the 31st of March, page 975 1846. He was educated in his native country and served his apprenticeship, as a ship-smith, with Mr. Alexander Stevens, shipbuilder, Dundee. Afterwards he removed to Glasgow and worked for the firm of Messrs Alexander Stevens and Sons, shipbuilders, of Kelvin Hall, for about three or four years. In October, 1870, Mr. Sinclair arrived at Lyttelton by the ship “Merope,” on her maiden trip. For a short time he worked at Lyttelton, and then moved to Timaru, under engagement to Mr. Edward Reece, who at that time was working an iron foundry as well as a large ironmongery business. After three years, Mr. Sinclair became a partner in the firm of Jones and Sinclair, which opened a general smith-shop in Strathallan Street, on the present site of Messrs Guinness and Le Cren's warehouses. Two years afterwards the firm was dissolved, and Mr. Sinclair began business on his own account, on the beach, at the commencement of the Breakwater, and carried on successfully till 1902, when he sold his business to the Timaru Harbour Board and has since been foreman blacksmith of the Board's works. As a volunteer, he served in the Dundee Rifles for four years, and since settling in Timaru has been a director of the local Caledonian Society. Mr. Sinclair was married at Timaru by the Rev. G. Barclay, on the 14th of April, 1871, to a daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Ferguson, of Auckinleck, Ayrshire, Scotland, and has had seven sons and six daughters, all of whom are alive but one son.

Ferrier, photo.Mr. P. Sinclair.

Ferrier, photo.
Mr. P. Sinclair.