Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ships and Mariners: 19th c Cape and Natal 15 Abercrombie Robinson/Waterloo

Advertisement for the sale of the Waterloo wreck;
 W Bell and Conch For Algoa Bay
South African Commercial Advertiser
31 August 1842 
In August 1842, not long after their return from action at Port Natal, Captain William Bell and Conch were in Table Bay preparing for a run to Algoa when the remains of the convict ship Waterloo were put up for auction. 

A singularly tragic wreck, the Waterloo under Captain H Ager had been bound for Tasmania but, putting in for water at the Cape near the mouth of the Salt River on 28 August, had encountered a gale-force north-westerly to which she had speedily succumbed, her rotten hull timbers breaking up. 

Bell no doubt voiced strong opinions on ships which were unfit to be afloat being sent off from England to the Antipodes on a wing and a prayer. 190 people, of whom 143 were convicts, were lost in the Waterloo. Among the dead were 18 women and children.

Abercrombie Robinson wreck

Only a few hundred metres away, the British troop transport, Abercrombie Robinson, 1425 tons, Captain John Young, on a voyage from Dublin, was wrecked in the same gale. This ship was carrying 700 souls, including detachments of the 27th Regiment and Cape Mounted Rifles as well as the 91st Argyllshire Regiment (numbering 450), but due to the discipline of all on board, everyone was saved. This story ranks alongside that of the Birkenhead for human courage and selflessness while in peril on the sea.

Wreck of the Waterloo. 28 August 1842

For more on the two dramatic shipwrecks at Table Bay see:

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