Tuesday 27 October 2015

The Melbourne Cup 1861 - 2015

'Archer', winner of the 1861 Melbourne Cup,
with jockey, John Cutts,
by Frederick Woodhouse Snr.
[Source : National Museum of Austrtalia 

On Tuesday the 3rd November 2015 both Australia and New Zealand will again literally grind to a halt for the running of the annual Melbourne Cup horse race at Flemington Racecourse in Victoria Australia. No other annual event manages to engage both Trans-Tasman neighbours as does the running of the 3,200 metre Melbourne Cup. And no self respecting workplace would be without its office sweepstake. I will never forget my own considerable surprise and delight at winning first placing in our office sweepstake with 'Van Der Hum' in 1976.

'The Otago Witness', 23 Nov 1861
[Source : Papers Past'] 

The first Melbourne Cup was run at the Flemington Racecourse as early as the 7th November 1861. Initially based on a "winner takes all" basis, the prize offered was £710 in gold sovereigns and a gold watch. Even at this early date the results quickly made the local regional newspaper here in Otago New Zealand (portrayed above), as I note did Australian racing results generally. A large crowd of at least 4,000 watched as 'Archer, a horse from Sydney New South Wales and ridden by John Cutts, took the lead and won. This interloper, having not been favoured to win, began an inter-state rivalry which has long since also spread across 'The Ditch' (as New Zealander's refer to the Tasman Sea). But of course the 'Melbourne Cup' is now an international race of some considerable importance and prestige with high stakes and entrants now come from around the world.

Melbourne Cup Race Card,
7th Nov 1861
[Source : State Library of NSW] 

To boost visitor numbers for the inaugural 1861 cup race, the Secretary of the Victorian Racing Club, Robert Bagot, hit upon a novel idea. By issuing two ladies tickets with every members ticket he considered that "where ladies went, men would follow". His ploy appears to have been successful as visitor numbers went up.

"The Lawn" at Flemington Racecourse on
Melbourne Cup Day, circa 1906.
[From my own collection]

Unfortunately, as noted in the newspaper report, the running of the inaugural cup race was marred when one horse bolted at the start and three out of the seventeen starters fell during the race due to "falling over one another", being 'Twilight', 'Medora' and 'Dispatch'. The latter two horses died from their injuries while the riders themselves were badly injured in the fall.

A carved Emu Egg portaying
Horses Jumping a Hurdle.
c.1889 - 1910
[from my own collection]

My own century old Australian horse racing 'souvenir' relates not to the Melbourne Cup but to Steeplechasing (hurdle racing). The above image shows a portion of a carved emu egg which has been in family ownership since around 1889 to 1910, being a gift from Australian relatives. The above image gives a good impression of the rough surface of an emu egg and of the size of the egg (13.5cm length, 9cm maximum width). The craftsman's tooling marks are also clearly visible.

Carved Emu Egg
[From my own collection]

Unfortunately rather difficult to effectively photograph, the carved image shows three horses with their riders, two holding crops, and jumping a hurdle. Even the jockey's caps are shown. The carving is made by removing a section of the darker outer layer of the egg to reveal the lighter under layer. The images are formed by carving around the images to remove the background so that the images appear in relief.

Carved Emu Egg
[From my own collection]

While the carving may appear rather naïve, the skill and time required to form an image on a rough surface requires a steady hand and would naturally take quite some time so cost would have been a consideration. This egg would have had to be laboriously hand carved whereas modern carved eggs are made using electrical drills which allows a greater degree of intricacy in a much shorter period of time. The top and bottom of the egg has a small hole which enabled the contents to be blown out.

If you've read this far you might be interested in some wonderful footage (with reasonably convincing dubbed sound) of the Melbourne Cup from the 3rd November 1896, filmed by Marius Sestier and H. Walter Barnett. Racegoers are first shown arriving by train at Flemington Racecourse Railway Station then views of the crowds on the "lawn", horses etc before the actual race itself :

Bibliography :

- Unless otherwise stated all images are from my own collection and may be freely copied provided this page is acknowledged.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

"My Grandfather's Clock" - A Song by Henry C. Work

A Mauchline Ware Miniature
Grandfather Clock, c.1880's
[From my own collection]

When we look closer into objects we can often discover a 'hidden' history behind these items of which we were previously unaware.

One such item is my 'Mauchline Ware' black lacquer miniature Grandfather Clock which stands just 25cm high. Manufactured in Ayrshire Scotland, 'Mauchline Ware' spurned all sorts of wooden related souvenir items, most bearing printed or photographic images, which would appeal to locals or tourists alike. These are highly collectable today. To read my previous Blog on 'Mauchline Ware', click Here.

Kirk Street, Strathaven c.1880's
[From my own collection]

My miniature clock would appear to date from the late Victorian era and includes not only a printed photograph of a horse and cart with a number of men in Kirk Street, Strathaven and a working pocket watch for a face but also, and more importantly, the words and musical score to a song by Henry Clay Work entitled "My Grandfather's Clock" appear on the trunk.

Henry Clay Work 1832 - 1884
[Source : www.hymntime.com]

So who was Henry C. Work and what do we know of his song? It would appear that prior to 1876 Mr Clay (1832 - 1884), an already well known American composer and songwriter, was travelling through England and happened to stay at the old George Hotel in Piercebridge which is on the border of Yorkshire and County Durham.

The hotel proprietors had been two elderly brothers named Jenkins. In the lobby stood a longcase clock, which would be regularly wound and kept good time. But after the death of one of the brothers the old clock started to lose time at an ever decreasing rate, despite the efforts of the hotel staff and local clockmaker to fix it. Upon the death of the second brother, into his 90th year, the clock stopped completely.

The Music Score and Words for
"Grandfather's Clock" by Henry C. Work, 1876

Henry Work heard of this story which then inspired him to write a song based around "Grandfather's Clock", becoming an immediate hit and, if the publisher can be believed, "the most popular song in America". But certainly, over a million copies of the song sheet and score were sold. It also quickly became popular in Great Britain and even today remains a favourite of British brass bands. It is likewise very well known among those who enjoy American 'bluegrass' music. I note that the song appears to be variously titled "Grandfather's Clock" and "My Grandfather's Clock" but the former appears to be the more correct title.

The words and score of
"My Grandfather's Clock" as
printed on my miniature clock
[From my own collection]

The song, which is told from the perspective of the grandson, is based on his Grandfather's clock :

"The clock is purchased on the morning of his grandfather's birth and works perfectly for ninety years, requiring only that it be wound at the end of each week. The clock rings 24 chimes when the grandfather brings his bride into his house; and before the grandfather dies, it rings an eerie alarm; the family recognizes that the grandfather is near death and gathers by his bed. When the grandfather dies, the clock suddenly stops, and never works again."

 A cylinder Phonograph recording 
of "Grandfather's Clock"
by the Edison Quartet, 1905  

Henry Work is also credited with the term "Grandfather clock" now being used to describe a longcase clock, such a term having not been known until after 1876. One would also believe that, evidenced by the score appearing on my miniature "Grandfather Clock", that the song definitely proved a great hit in Scotland. And what better way to generate sales than to successfully combine this by now well known song and a miniature Grandfather clock? In a roundabout way, while the original Grandfather clock in the George Hotel inspired the song, the song then most likely inspired the miniature 'Mauchline' black lacquer ware Grandfather clock in my possession.

Some really great instrumental 'Bluegrass' 
versions of "Grandfather's Clock"

Henry Clay Worth is probably still best known for his rousing American Civil War era song "Marching Through Georgia" but composed many other well known melodies and songs which remain very popular today.

Bibliography :

- Wikipedia
- The George Hotel, Piercebridge

Tuesday 13 October 2015

A Gallery of Victorian Era Hand Tinted Photographs

W.K. Munro Studio,
Edinburgh c.1875-1884
[From my own collection]

In the days before before early colour photographic processes were perfected, and without the current ability to colourize black and white images in Photoshop, many photographic studios made an effort to highlight their photographs by means of manual hand tinting. Some efforts are better than others but the end result probably comes down to the experience and talent of the photographic artist and how much extra the customer was willing to pay for this additional service.

These Victorian era carte-de-visite and ambrotype (glass) photos have each been delicately hand tinted or have had features highlighted for effect. Soluble colour dyes were preferred over water colours as transparency and image detail would not be compromised.

The first four images are from my own collections with the rest being from the Australian Dougall family collection. The latter have been used with the permission of the custodian of these images, Mr Dick Dougall of Franklin, Tennessee, USA. Please credit this site if copying images.

A glass ambrotype, c.1858
[From my own collection]

A glass Ambrotype of my Great Great Grandmother, taken in Edinburgh, circa 1858. Her bonnet is highlighted in red with her gold ring picked out in gold. This image has been digitally highlighted due to lack of contrast but remains true to the original.

Margaret Watson, c.1860
Margaret Watson, c.1860

Mrs Margaret Watson (née Frame) of Crossford, Lanarkshire, Scotland, from my own collection. Taken circa 1860. The low contrast image on the left shows how the gold highlighting on her brooch and ring stand out on the original glass ambrotype. Click on image for larger view.

An Unknown young woman,
"Sharp" photo, Low Patrick Street,
Hamilton, c.1870's.
[From my own collection]

A simple highlight of what appears to be some kind of ribbon around her neck and down her back and with her brooch and earrings picked out in gold paint.

[Dougall Collection]

This Russian photographer from St Petersburg has used a small amount of rouge tinting on the cheeks and lips of the above unknown young man.

[Dougall Collection]

This unidentified tinted image is from the photographic studio of David Wood of Emerald Hill, Melbourne, Australia.

[Dougall Collection]

A not terribly convincing effort in tinting from Bardwell's Royal Studio, Ballarat, Australia. Note the lady's belt buckle and brooch have also been highlighted in gold.   

Mrs Mary Dougall née Hamilton,
Wallan Wallan, Victoria, Australia
[Dougall Collection]

A reasonably credible effort from the "West End Portrait Parlours" of Hotham, Melbourne, Australia.

Mrs Mary Dougall née Hamilton,
Wallan Wallan, Victoria, Australia
[Dougall Collection]

Another "take" on the previous image from the "West End Portrait Parlours" of Hotham, Melbourne, Australia.

[Dougall Collection]

Rouge tint on the cheeks and gold paint on the brooch, necklace and earrings from the photographic studio of E.E. Hibling of Melbourne, Australia.

[Dougall Collection]

A somewhat bizarre application of rouge on the cheeks and lips and a vibrant red cover on the book lying on the table. From the photographic studio of Stewart & Co. of Melbourne, Australia.

[Dougall collection]

A rather 'vibrant' but probably reasonably true to life colourization from the photographic studio of David Wood of Emerald Hill, Ballarat, Australia.  

Thomas Dougall,
Wallan Wallan, Victoria,
[From my own collection]

A very subtle application of rouge on the face and lips to give the portrait a warm tone. From the photographic studio of Yeoman & Co. of Chapel Street, Prahran, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Tuesday 6 October 2015

The ill-fated 1883 Voyage of the Emigrant Sailing Ship 'Wild Deer'

Crew posing on the prow of the "Wild Deer", 1872
[De Maus Photo, National Library of New Zealand]

During a wild and stormy night in January 1883 my Great Great Uncle William (Willie) Watson, a passenger aboard the New Zealand bound emigrant sailing vessel "Wild Deer", experienced first hand what appeared to be the unfolding of a major maritime disaster off the treacherous Irish coast.

William Watson, aged 21 years, taken
in Glasgow, Scotland, c.1883
[From my own collection]

Through Boom and Bust

William (Willie) Watson, then 21 years of age and a native of Dalserf Parish in Lanarkshire Scotland, had worked for his father on lands owned by the Duke of Hamilton. Financial returns were meagre for the work and energy expended, the chances of raising sufficient funds to buy one's own small block of land almost impossible, the rent would be fixed for a 19 year period through boom and bust, and any pastoral improvement from sheer hard work and determination became the property of the Duke upon the expiry of the lease. With his parents now deceased and a sister and brother already in New Zealand relating stories of greater opportunity and reward, there was nothing to hold him back.

The 'Wild Deer' at Port Chalmers, New Zealand, 1872
[De Maus Photo, National Library of New Zealand]

A Fast Sailer

Known as a "fast sailer", the emigrant ship "Wild Deer" had been built in 1863 as a China tea clipper. From 1871 she had successfully completed ten voyages to New Zealand for the Albion Shipping Company, all apparently without major incident save for a "sprung rudder stock" after a heavy storm in 1872 which necessitated a return to the Clyde for repairs. But still, with eleven previous voyage times of between 77 and 100 days half way around the world and crossing the remote and unpredictable Great Southern Ocean such a long voyage would not to be taken lightly. The 'Wild Deer' followed the classic 'clipper route', sailing at anything up to 60 degrees south through the treacherous and stormy 'Roaring Forties'. Despite the risk of storms, fierce winds, huge waves, and icebergs, this southerly route made for a shorter and faster voyage to New Zealand. Captains would weigh up the risks of sailing so far south against achieving a fast passage.

Dumbarton Rock and Castle, a familiar landmark 
for passing ships on the River Clyde, c.1890's.
[From "Views of Glasgow and the Clyde"
in my own collection]

208 Other Emigrants

With sad farewells to family and friends at home, William Watson made his way, with all that he possessed or might need packed in his trunk, to Glasgow where embarcation took place on the 9th January 1883. Joining him, along with 41 crewmen, were 208 other emigrants, the passenger manifest providing a wonderful snapshot of Scottish and Irish emigrants and their occupations or trades. Travelling steerage, bulky goods and possessions not required on the voyage would be stored in their trunks down in the hold. The "Wild Deer", under charter to the New Zealand Colonial Government, commenced her voyage by being towed down the Clyde to Greenock. Here, on the 12th January 1883 she took on a pilot who, with the vessel now under sail, remained onboard until well past Ailsa Craig, also known as "Paddy's Milestone". Captain Kerr then charted his course through the Irish Sea towards the vast expanse of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Cloughey, North[ern] Ireland 'pinned' on a map.
The Firth of Clyde is at upper centre
[Source : Google maps]

"Bur-er-er, Thud, Thud, Thud"

The 'Wild Deer' now encountered a stiff breeze and "boisterous" conditions but with most of her sails set she was still making good speed. Heavy seas continued to prevail, but when night came on "the wind [now] blew half a gale". Just after 11 o’clock, and after losing her course and drifting, she grazed a dangerous reef known as "Cannon Rock" but sustained no injury. But half an hour later, and "with great force", she struck the "North Rock" about three miles from the mainland village of Cloughey off County Down, North[ern] Ireland. The passengers, who had all turned in for the night, were awakened by "a strange and alarming sound like bur-er-er, thud, thud, thud,’". The vessel then gave a sudden quiver and commenced to settle whereupon a general panic ensued with a rush being made for the hatchways.

Little Hope of Anyone Being Saved

The officers implored the terrified passengers to stay below and that they were, apparently, in no immediate danger. Reefs could be observed a short distance away with large pieces of timber from the hull floating in the sea. The vessel had now developed a good list, and altogether the position appeared desperate with, as some passengers perceived, little hope of anyone being saved. The panic in that part of the ship occupied by the women was so great that the crew locked the doors to prevent them from all rushing up on deck. Rockets and distress flare lights were sent up being promptly answered by the coast-guard station. But in the rough seas their boat was stove in necessitating repairs before they could set off again at 3am.

The Cloughey based lifeboat and crew, early
1900's. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution
station at Cloughey was established in 1885.
[Source : Portaferry Lifeboat Station]  

The Main Mast Fell Into the Sea

The vessel was by now quivering and everyone feared a final plunge into the sea on the rocky and dangerous coastline. With the aim of steadying the ship one of the officers cried out, "Well, boys, what is to be done, are you going to take in sail?" Immediately they had brought down the sails the main mast fell into the sea, having snapped off at the deck tearing away the bulwarks. This however also appeared to steady the ship, as the yards rested on the reef. That all the passengers were not crowded on deck no doubt saved a further catastrophe. The passengers and crew passed a long weary night, and being midwinter there was no daylight till 8 a.m. By daybreak all were thankful to see not only land but also the coastguard boat finally approaching after four hours of "strenuous" rowing. An "armada" of fishing boats also appeared. Women and children were taken off first followed by the male passengers, with the assistance of five of the ship's lifeboats, the sixth being rendered useless by the fall of the mainmast. It was an extremely slow and difficult job, for owing to the swell and the height of the "Wild Deer" above the sea, no rope ladders could be used, and each individual had to submit to being tied to a rope, hoisted over the side, then lowered 20 feet into a waiting boat.

A 'still' from a short video of the North Rock, Cloughey.
This clearly shows the reef extending out into the sea
where the "Wild Deer"foundered.
[Source : A Short Paddle to North Rock, Cloughey

Exhorbitant Demands

Unfortunately "exhorbitant demands" were made by the fishermen to convey passengers to shore. One crew member remarked that he had been shipwrecked seven times but had never witnessed such "barbarity" as the County Down men demanding £1 per head for every passenger taken ashore. Although eventually lowered to £5 for every 15 passengers, one young un-named Scotsman "...told them I would gie them 5s [shillings] for takin' me ashore, an' after some higglin' [haggling] they agreed tae that."   

William Watson managed to save his testimonial from the
local Parish Minister at Dalserf. This is the only verified
'artefact' I hold from the voyage of the'Wild Deer'.
[From my own collection] 

Lost to the Irish Sea

But all were landed safely and thankful for their almost miraculous deliverance from a watery grave. All they had were the clothes they were standing up in and anything they could comfortably carry, their trunks and most of their possessions being lost to the Irish Sea. My Gt. Gt. Uncle managed to save his testimonial written out by the local parish minister as this pre-dates the voyage. This is the only item I can verify as having been with him on the ill-fated voyage. By the 17th January, and "after grinding and straining on the North Rock", the vessel broke its back and became a total wreck. Also lost were 900 tons of additional cargo consisting of whisky, dry goods, and pig iron. One wonders how much material floated to shore which would then have been promptly 'purloined' by the local population (we now know that some wood was re-used).

The figurehead from the "Wild Deer"
representing the Goddess Diana, 1872
[De Maus Photo, National Library
of New Zealand]

"Diana", The Roman Goddess 

The figurehead itself had originally been supplied by Kay and Reid of Wellington Street, Glasgow who specialised in carved figure heads for ships. The Belfast "News Letter" of the 21st May 1965 states that the figurehead from the "Wild Deer", being a representation of "Diana", the Roman Goddess of the Moon, of animals, of nature and of the hunt, was then held by a Mrs Anderson of Ballyhalbert which is just north of Cloughey. A local informant has advised me (Aug 2021) that after being displayed as a feature at the local petrol station the figurehead disappeared but is still believed to be in the neighbourhood but held privately. I hope to hear more and will update further. Apparently it was (thankfully) not the figurehead from this area purported to be from the "Wild Deer" which was sold by Sotheby's Auction House to an American buyer "for somewhere between £3,000 to £4,000".

Cloughey Presbyterian Church
[Source : Geograph]

 The Shipwrecked People... Presented a Curious Sight

Having now landed at the small fishing village of Cloughey which comprised of not more than 20 small houses, over 300 passengers were billeted on the generous hospitality of the residents. The Presbyterian Church and Manse were thrown open and all the cottagers played their part in supplying food and shelter. With the help of a large quantity of straw the passengers made themselves as comfortable as they could. Arrangements were then made to transport everyone overland to Belfast. For this purpose all the "jaunting cars" [two wheeled carriages] for miles around were requisitioned to convey everyone to Newtownards, a distance of 16 miles. "The shipwrecked people,... in their various garbs, presented a curious sight driving along the country roads of Ireland."

Irish "Jaunting cars" outside Newtownards Railway Station
[Source : A Digital Encyclopedia of Newtownards]

Did Not Risk Another Sailing Ship

From Newtownards, all were taken onto Belfast by the railway where they arrived in the evening and spent Sunday night thence by the steamer "Dromedary" back to Glasgow, arriving there just one week from the day they went on board. The emigrants were lodged in Glasgow until re-shipped, most sailing out on the "Caroline". My own Gt. Gt. Uncle did not risk another sailing vessel and chose to transfer to a steam ship! Quite how he managed the additional cost I do not know but his family and friends may have taken pity on him and given some assistance.

The track "up the brae" leading to the farmhouse is
just visible at centre right, Cander Mill is to the left.
[From my own collection]

An Unexpected but Pleasant Surprise

My late Mother often related the story her Grandmother told of looking out her kitchen window and exclaiming “If I didnae know that Willie Watson was away to New Zealand I’d say that was him coming up the brae.” William obviously managed to re-visit his family before news of the wreck reached them via the Glasgow newspapers. It would have been an unexpected but pleasant surprise for his remaining family in Scotland but again the same sad goodbyes. William Watson would have been faced with again buying and packing a new trunk. I can remember this same red ochre painted wooden trunk with his initial and surname written in large letters on the side.

John Kerr,

Suspended for Three Months

The Court of Inquiry held Captain John Kerr firmly to blame "for failing to accurately determine his exact position." But, having been with the company for an otherwise incident free fourteen years, the Court determined that “the punishment would be reduced within the narrowest limits [and] that the Captain’s certificate be suspended for three months.” Had there been any loss of life I fear the sentence may not have been so generous. My apologies that the above portrait is such poor quality.

William Watson, Taken 1920's

Rammed and Sunk the 'Tryst'

As an aside, William Watson, who died in 1931, returned to Scotland for a visit in 1909 but fared no better with his later seafaring adventures. Just before reaching Portsmouth his steam ship, the 'Ortona' rammed and sunk the "Tryst" which had not given way. William and his wife then endured a very slow return voyage home on the 'R.M.S. Osterley' after engine problems, including a blown cylinder on the quadruple expansion steam engine necessitated triple expansion working for the rest of the voyage. After emigrating to New Zealand in 1883 William went on to become a successful and highly progressive farmer. After fully researching his life it is clear that his public spirited nature, his Christian values (which crossed the religious divide), his great generosity, and his hospitality were unrivalled. You can also read about his experimentations with the new "agricultural motor" HERE

Further Information :

Ivan McFerran, a local Cloughey resident, has put together an interesting 15 minute UTube video about the loss of the "Wild Deer" including family recollections from local resident's recollections, a look at artefacts recovered from the wreck, and a look inside the old Cloughey Presbyterian Church where many of the survivors of the wreck took shelter [Clickable Link] Wild Deer Shipwreck

Bibliography :

- Watson family papers & history (from my own collection)
- New Zealand Electronic Text Collection / Te Pūhikotuhi o Aotearoa
- "The Glasgow Herald", 1883
- "Dundalk Democrat", 20 January 1883
- "News Letter", Belfast, 21 May 1965
- "Papers Past" / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- "Views of Glasgow and the Clyde", c.1890's (from my own collection)
- Various Internet resources
- Coast Guards of Yesteryear
- "Shipwrecks of the Ulster Coast" by Ian Wilson