Friday, 4 July 2014

Tairua Shipbuilding

Looking up Tairua Harbour from the new Marina - Photo CRB 2014

The ingredients were there at Tairua for shipbuilding in 1873 - some fine timber in the area, a bustling new sawmill, a busy Port of call for all manner of vessels with inward and outward cargoes and a Shipwright - George Sharpe.

George Sharpe had already proven shipwright skills with the building at Matakana in 1866 of a cutter - Sovereign of the Seas. The Daily Southern Cross reported her arrival as a newly launched cutter:-

" A New Coasting Vessel— Sovereign of the Seas.— A fine large coasting cutter, named the Sovereign of the Seas, arrived in harbour yesterday from the building yards of Mr. George Sharpe, at Matakana. The vessel is an excellent model, and possesses large carrying capacity. She is built to the order of Mr. Christian, of Matakana, and is intended for the coasting trade. Her dimensions are, 46 feet length of keel, 18 feet breadth of beam, 7 feet depth of hold, and 52 feet over all She is some 58 tons builders' measurement, and 36 tons register, and arrived on her maiden trip yesterday, with 50 tons firewood, and 26,000 shingles, in charge of Captain Innes, of the Orpheus."

PORT OF AUCKLAND. MISCELLANEOUS. Daily Southern Cross, 7 June 1866, Page 3

By June the following year, Sovereign of the Seas had made several calls at Tairua and had returned to Auckland with  cargoes of timber, gum and passengers. From newspaper accounts, Sovereign of the seas could list Tauranga, Napier, Thames, Mercury Bay, and Thames among Ports of call as in this advertisement: -
Page 1 Advertisements Column 2 New Zealand Herald, Volume IV, Issue 1241, 6 November 1867, Page 1

Sovereign of the Seas showed her capabilities and that of the shipwright who built her when winning the Cutter challenge at the Annual Auckland Regatta on the Waitemata in 1869. ( RACE BETWEEN THE ALARM AND SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS. Daily Southern Cross, 3 February 1869, Page 2)  Winning the "Trading Cutter" race was repeated in 1871 when Sovereign of the Seas came in ahead of Nautilus and in 1872 coming in ahead of Mercury. 1873 - the year the Fore and Aft Schooner Belle Brandon was turned off the stocks, Sovereign of the Seas sailed by her new owner Captain Martin, was placed 3rd in the Auckland Regatta Trading Cutter Challenge - Mercury in 1st place raced by Captain Diaz ( a master very familiar with sailing cutters to and from Tairua.)

The fore and aft schooner Belle Brandon said to have been built by George Sharpe for William Benjamin Jackson ( Manager of the sawmill at Tairua ) was reported to have arrived at Port of Auckland after launching: -

                                                            courtesy Papers Past, National Library NZ

Seems Belle Brandon also entered the Auckland Regatta of 1874 and performed well , leading on the run to North Head, in the Trading Vessels Race and finishing 3rd at the end of the race.  Henderson & Macfarlane owners Thomas Henderson Jnr.  and Gustav Von Der Heyde and also Regatta Committee members , perhaps also notices her sailing capabilities and the quality of the vessel.

For three years later, Belle Brandon had been purchased by Henderson & Macfarlane from the then owner, George Holdship ( well known timber merchant and future New Zealand manager of New Zealand Kauri Timber Company - which also absorbed the Union Steam Saw Saw Moulding Sash and Door Company Ltd. Mill at Tairua in 1888. ( New Zealand Herald 19 July 1888, p 3) 

Holdship had purchased Belle Brandon from first owner Jackson, for £1650.00 in  1874about £133,700.00 real price, today in 2013.)  Ownership and place built ( Tairua ) was recorded in The Register of Australian and New Zealand Shipping 1874

Henderson & Macfarlane's purchase price included the schooner Kriemhilda as part payment - Belle Brandon and  Captain F Ohlson destined to continue " The Island Trade."

In Ed. Garran, Hon. Andrew. 1892. Australasia Illustrated. Sydney: Picturesque Atlas Pub. Co.

The next vessel to arrive at Port of Auckland and built at Tairua, also by Shipwright George Sharpe, was the cutter Coralie. The New Zealand Herald wrote: -

"Another addition to our coasting fleet has been made, in the shape of a smart 28 ton cutter, named the Coralie, which arrived yesterday from Tairua The cutter belongs to Captain Jackson, and was built by George Sharpe, Tairua. When we mention that she has been turned off the stocks by the builder of the cutter Sovereign of the Seas and the schooner Belle Brandon, it is a sufficient guarantee that she is no ordinary vessel. She is without doubt a valuable addition to our coasting craft. The following are her dimensions:—Length of keel. 45 feet; length overall 62 feet 6 inches; beam, 17 feet; depth of hold, 0 feet draught when loaded, 5 feet 9 inches."

                              SHIPPING. New Zealand Herald, 5 February 1874, Page 2

William Benjamin Jackson retained ownership of Coralie for several years. In 1880 the cutter Coralie was advertised for sale and R.A. Player of Auckland was the reported owner in 1883.

Coralie continued to sail the coastal run, carrying cargoes of timber, gum, passengers and livestock. As a new century began, Coralie was wrecked in the Waikopopu Bay, Mahia Peninsula. Thus ended nearly thirty years for this cutter built in Tairua.

Looking toward the bar at Tairua - Photo CRB 2014
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