Monday, 15 February 2016

Wilkinson - Shipping, Yachting and " breaking" news of the sea

Desert Gold - a yacht loved by " Aunty Spider"

There is a storm on the East Coast, at the moment. Wet day outside.  Not many recreation boats out at sea and all looks a bit rough. Think any  yachts out there are sheltering in one of the harbours or coves of the Peninsula. Good day to sit and read the newspapers. In this instance , it is those newspapers of the past  now online on the internet - thanks to Papers Past National Library New Zealand and Trove National Library Australia. I love reading about the sea and those shipping and yachting stories of the past - the stories of ship launchings, ship wrecks, poems, shipping news , yachting race reports, shipping companies. ( including  a report on the journey out to New Zealand in 1859, for one set of grand-parents aboard the ship Joseph Fletcher. Reports of a concert held  on board , complete with curtains ( the Joseph Fletcher's private signal flag, - a lion rampant holding a scallop shell argent, on a field, gules)

Tramping Club  Camping at Pararaha, Photo sometime
 between 1930 and 1946 Photo by JM Stewart

Reading, I thought about my god mother ( Wilma Marryatt Latter - nee Wilkinson AKA Aunty Spider ). Wilma  began working life as a journalist and then turned to being a librarian. Often wondered is,  was one of  her roles  in the country library service,  National Library New Zealand, organising books about the sea for some of those Peninsula Libraries, including Tairua. The  books that I like to get out and have a good read- stories of yachts lost at sea on a voyage and found again.  Wilma, as well as loving tramping, also loved the sea - yachting with her father , writing poems, and walking the beach over the years with friends.

Wilma AKA Spider with Lorna - one of Coromandel's Eastern Seaboard beaches  1980's - Photo by HM Stewart

William Wilkinson
Reading the " shipping intelligence", bought to mind, some of those people who were the journalists, shipping reporters and newspaper owners who wrote all those things about the sea.
One such was Derbyshire born , William Wilkinson ( grandfather of Wilma ) who arrived aboard one of those boats reported about in the shipping news in April 1863 - The Nimroud - with 187 people , including crew.  Also on board, according to the Maritime record,  was the peal of bells and fittings for St Mary’s Cathedral, Parnell.  A newly arrived journalist aboard the Nimrod in 1863, Wilkinson was firstly involved with war reporting for the New Zealander. Following this, Wilkinson became a shipping reporter for Daily Southern Cross. The competition for shipping news was strong. Early newspaper reporters rowed out, under all sea conditions, to meet the newly arrived ship from “the old country” so they could “get the scoop.”  A rival of Wilkinson for  the shipping news,  was Sir  Henry  Brett. Brett wrote the well- known shipping books  " White Wings" about the early  sailing ships and trade to New Zealand.

Both Brett and Wilkinson,  in addition to having been shipping reporters , became printers, publishers and newspaper owners. Brett, newspaper owner of the Auckland Star with Thomas Wilson Leys, which morphed into New Zealand Newspapers Ltd after the purchase of the Lyttelton Times and Christchurch Star.
Wilkinson, with Corlett, launched one of the first newspapers on the Thames Goldfields, first published on 11 April 1868 -  the Thames Advertiser and Miners’ News.  Corlett ,after a couple of years went on ,and in 1872 Alfred Horton joined William Wilkinson as co- owner ( the year following the birth of William Albert Wilkinson, son of William Wilkinson - December 1871 at Thames )   Horton  sold his interest in the Thames Advertiser in 1876 and moved on to the Herald, joining forces with Wilson - Wilson & Horton. In 1875 the street address of Wilkinson & Horton - the Thames Advertiser was recorded in Albert Street Thames.
Intersection of Brown Street and Albert Street, circa 1900. Wharf Hotel is on the left and the Bank of New Zealand is on the opposite corner on the right. Albert Street runs from left to right. 
Brown Street, Thames. Price, William Archer, 1866-1948 :Collection of post card negatives. Ref: 1/2-001554-G. Courtesy  Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.  

In 1875 the address of the Thames Advertiser was given as Albert Street
.No doubt it was an ideal location for the Thames Advertiser then, as the premises were close to the Bank of New Zealand , the famous Scrip Corner where mining shares changed hands and the Hotels which would have bought people  from many walks of life to stay. The Thames Goldfields in that era, was in  "bonanza" times. William Wilkinson continued with the Thames Advertiser until the mid- 1880's, as well as  involvement with  community service groups.

Early in 1869, the New Zealand Herald reported the formation of a society -  the  Thames Literary and Scientific Association, with a committee of management made up of  W. Rowe, J. Gwynneth, O. M. Creagh, W. Wilkinson, R. H. Bartlett, J. Breen, and Major Heaphy. One of the first lectures presented by this group was that by Major Heaphy on the geology of the Auckland and Thames District. Later years in 1874, the Thames Advertiser reported extensively on the scientific apparatus, used to observe the Transit of Venus by Mr. Severn of the Bank of New Zealand. Unfortunately it rained on the date. Nevetheless , Henry Thomson Gorrie who was also at the Bank of New Zealand Thames then, took a photograph of the event.
 Transit of Venus 1874, pouring rain Early photos taken by H. T. GORRIE, from the BUTTLE Family Collection.
Courtesy creative commons Kete Basket, West Coast
At the close of 1878 , it was reported William Wilkinson being one of the  members of a newly established  Board of Governors for an intended Highschool.
" The following gentlemen have been appointed Governors of the High School for Boys and Girls, which is shortly to be established on the Thames, and for the support of which the Government lately granted an endowment of 10,003 acres of land at the Te Aroha Messrs. L. J, Bagnall, Alexander Brodie, John Brown, William Davies, James Kilgour, William McCullough, and William Wilkinson" ( Thames Advertiser 04/01/1879)
By 1882 Wilkinson was recorded as  Chairman, Board of Governors.  Wilkinson had also served a term 1880 - 1882 as Mayor of Thames. Along with being on the House Committee of the Thames Hospital Committee and an  active member of  the Walter Scott Lodge. 
The Thames Advertiser gave wide coverage to the Turning of the First Sod celebrations and ceremonies of Thames Railway in 1878. Coverage repeated under new ownership for the Opening celebrations and ceremonies twenty years later in 1898. Also there was the shipping news with steamers coming into their own on the " Thames run."
Upon Wilkinson selling the paper , The Thames Advertiser became a  public company called the Thames Newspaper and Printing Company. In 1883 Wilkinson bought the Observer from this newspaper's founder Stewart Rathbone, In 1884 an Evening Telephone was published, intention to compete with The Star. This newspaper struggled and in 1885 passed on to John Wickham and eventually as the renamed Evening Bell along with the Observer , on to Henry Brett who sold  to his cousin Baulf and John Kelly. Wilkinson was also attributed with owning the Te Aroha and Ohinemuri News, founded in 1883. This newspaper passed into the ownership of John Ilott and on to Henry Brett. 
By the turn of the century, William Wilkinson lived in Auckland and had established a printing company.
William Albert Wilkinson
William Albert Wilkinson ( born in Thames son of William Wilkinson   - co founder of the Thames Advertiser )   William Albert followed his father's footsteps into a career of journalism also.  Accounts attribute William Albert Wilkinson with printing New Zealand's first boating magazine in 1909 - the New Zealand Yachtsman). However the magazine did not get off the ground and it was said this was because of the outbreak of war ( WW1).
This Wilkinson   became shipping correspondent for the Auckland Star in 1919 covering yachting under the byline 'Speedwell.' William Albert Wilkinson was active in yachting on the Waitemata, encouraging yacht clubs and racing. At times  this Wilkinson was known for controversy .
Pictured is Mr W.A. Wilkinson's 24-Footer, "Speedwell", winner of Open Handicap, Mahurangi Regatta, March 23. Also, winner of 24ft L.R. Races, North Shore Sailing Club, March 16; Annual Regatta, March 9; Auckland Yacht Club, March 2 Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 05 APRIL 1901 p005]
Photo courtesy Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19010405-5-4
Nevertheless, Wilkinson contributed greatly to the development of yachting on the Waitemata, along with  further afield on the coasts and waters of Coromandel Peninsula and to Tauranga. Yachting was " in his heart" and  promoted the 14 footer X Class leading to Sanders Cup competition. The North Shore Yacht Club moved to city side of harbour and changed its name to Akarana. Wilkinson was also involved in setting up of Tamaki Yacht Club.
On races and regattas further afield, "Speedwell" wrote on the races promoted by the Coromandel regatta and sports committee in 1936 : -
Gorrie's paddock was named for, originally, a paddock on  Morton Gorrie's farm at Coromandel. Here there had, from the beginning of the new century, yachting picnics and sheep dog trials, amongst a number of community activities.
Two years later " Speedwell" writing on the Auckland to Tauranga yachting race gave some good navigation information on the route:-

Passing Old Man Rock (to port) the next course is south-east by south, to the eastern point of the Slipper Island, distance 21 miles. This course- takes you half a mile east of Castle Bock, a steep to rock 192 ft high, 10 miles on the coarse from Old Man Bock. The Aldermen Islands lie to seaward, and three miles before reaching the Slipper Is the Shoe, a small island well Inshore, off the entrance to Tairua River. "Speedwell" has been In the river, but does not recommend it as there is a nasty break over the bar at the narrow entrance with the wind in. Close-to the Slipper, on the southern side, and, almost joined to it, are Penguin and Rabbit Islands, bat they are all in line on the south-eastern end of Rabbit island that the Manaia was wrecked on June-10, 1926, when bound from Tauranga to Auckland. She was relieving the Ngapuhi at the time. Slipper to The Mount. ( Auckland Star 27/08/1938)

Wilma Wilkinson AKA Aunty Spider enjoyed yachting with her father who was known as " Wilkie"
 Wilma  Marryatt Latter nee Wilkinson
Wilma was better known as Aunty Spider. A librarian, Aunty Spider loved to travel. The writer of this blog grew up enjoying  the travel letters that were passed around kith and kin. Far - away places, different modes of travel, people met,  the jerseys and cardigans knitted on her journeys for this God Child ( knitting learned from her maternal grandmother ) Growing up being encouraged to read  all sorts of books and write. Through the years, even though we saw an Internet age begin, Aunty Spider continued with regular, large hand written letters. Something remembered well today.
Wilma ( AKA Aunty Spider), Anne and Micky the cat
In July of 1993  Wilma AKA  Aunty Spider was pleased to attend the Opening of a new  library and  Archives in a new Council Building at Whangamata. Wilma came to share this event, the archives named the HM Stewart Archives - a place where records of the history of this town were intended to be stored safely and worked towards by Helen Stewart and others for future generations. For Wilma as well as writing, was passionate about retaining history records for she too had, as with Helen Stewart and others, been involved with records of Tramping and Climbing groups  along with lifelong friendships.  The opening of the Library was a significant milestone to these two - a progression of country library service days to Whangamata and Tairua. 

Jocelyn Fish, Ina Ellis and Helen Stewart at Library and Archives opening Whangamata  1993
The  HM Stewart Archives as such,  is no longer.
Wilma Marryatt Latter nee Wilkinson passed on in 2010. Thus ended three generations of a family who had much to do with the Coromandel Peninsula - a  relevant part of  past NZ History in journalism, printing, newspaper publishing,  country library service, nursing training at Waihi ( completed 1911 ) and of course - the sea.

Reference Source:
  • Hastings, David, Extra, Extra, Auckland University Press, 2013
  • The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, Auckland Province. Christchurch: Cyclopaedia Company Limited, 1902.
  • Weston, Fred (compiler). Jubilee Souvenir –Thames Goldfields A History From Proclamation Times To 1927. Thames: “ Thames Star”, July ,1927
  • Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1882 Session I, E-08 EDUCATION. REPORTS OF SECONDARY SCHOOLS. [In Continuation of E.-5, 1881.]
  • Thames Genealogy Resources  New Zealand - Thames Directory 1875 page 65
  • New Zealand Maritime Index  - William Wilkinson, William Albert Wilkinson, Wilma Marryatt
THIS THAMES GOLDFIELD. New Zealand Herald, 6 February 1869, Page 5
Untitled New Zealand Herald, 31 December 1878, Page 2
GENERAL NEWS. Thames Advertiser,  4 January 1879, Page 3
YACHTING. Auckland Star, 8 April 1936, Page 25
SIMPLE NAVIGATION Auckland Star, 27 August 1938, Page 21

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