THE ARRIVAL OF THE BLAIRGOWRIE
The Press August 24th 1875.
The first voyage made by this beautiful clipper ship after being launched at Glasgow in 1875, was to Lyttleton, where she landed 430 Government immigrants and fourteen saloon passengers. She sailed from London on May 26th, and took her final departure from Start Point three days later. Light and contrary winds prevailed until crossing the equator, and two heavy gales were encountered after passing the Cape. On August 17th Stewart Island was in sight. Immediately after, a heavy N.E. gale was experienced and then light winds right up to the Peninsula. Not withstanding these adverse conditions, the ship anchored at Lyttleton on the 22nd August, five days after sighting land, and accomplished the passage in 83 days from Start Point. The Blairgowrie was a vessel of 1550 tons, commanded by Captain Darke. She was built by Thomson, of Glasgow, and owned by Thomson and Gray. The vessel made one voyage only to New Zealand.
It was 11am, on the 23rd Aug 1875 when the s. s. Gazelle, with the Immigration and Health Officers aboard, steamed from the wharf for the Blairgowrie. On proceeding alongside the Blairgowrie it became evident to all that the reports regarding this fine ship had not been exaggerated. She is a new iron ship. She was chartered by Shaw, Saville & Co for this her maiden voyage, her decks are of teak, and her fittings include all the latest improvements; her windlass and some flag apparatus are both patents and are similar to types on board the Ballochmyle. The condenser is an excellent one, and can easily produced 1000 gallons per Diem. The saloon, though not large, is beautifully fitted, and many say that a finer ship has never visited our harbour . Captain Darke and the Surgeon Superintendent Dr Husband who is an old friend in this province, as a doctor occupied the same position in the Hereford, last year, have gained the good will and confidence of all on board, and thanks to the wise precautions taken, illness has been almost an unknown word on board. The "tween decks are 8ft in height and all the compartments are light and excellently ventilated, calling forth the praise of the health officers; in fact we are requested to that an immigrant ship has never arrived in our port in a healthier or more cleanly condition. The part of the vessel that we visited was the single womens compartment. This was well lighted and excessively clean and the matron, Mrs. Vale and the sub-matron Mrs. Tredrea, spoke highly of the general behavior of the girls, who are nearly all domestic servants, and well suited to the requirements of the province. They seemed well contented with the attention they had received during the passage. Sewing had been encouraged during the voyage, and the articles made were distributed to the girls during our stay on board. Mrs. Dryhurst had originally been engaged as matron, but was too sick to act, and Mrs. Vale was then asked to take her place. The married people were also comfortably lodged, and their berths were a credit to them, both for neatness and cleanliness, there were sixty six families in this part of the ship, and one death occurred during the voyage, that of a little boy eighteen months old from general debility. There were two births, and both the young Blairgowries and their mothers looked well and strong. Most of the families came from west of England, and are principally agricultural labourers and their children. But there are representatives also from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.
The single men are a fine able-bodied young fellows, but their conduct did not please, if so much as they seemed discontented, and refused on several occasions to carry out the necessary sanitary arrangements assisted on by the doctor. Nevertheless, this part of the vessel was in far better order than in the generality of vessels. There were 26 in this division of the ship, and they were also principally agricultural labourers. Taken altogether, the ship is a credit to all concerned, as we are glad to welcome her to our port. No doubt, the 456 souls she brings will be a welcome addition to our population.
A sad accident happened during the voyage. A boy named James Hamilton, an active willing lad, liked by all on-board, was sent up to loosen the main sky-sail on August the 1st, and when up at the royal masthead, fell on the deck, a belaying pin penetrating the back of his head, his thigh was also broken, and his body was otherwise mutilated. Death must have been instantaneous. On July 30th a man named William Sheenan fell overboard. Mr. William Boyd, the chief officer, threw a life buoy overboard, which the man caught, and a boat was lowered and rescued him. The immigrants will be landed today.