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Archaeological Services in Relation to Marine Protection

South Australian
Bristol Channel
Undesignated Site Assessment

Ref: 214390.02
November 2019

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Document Information
Document title South Australian, Bristol Channel
Document subtitle Undesignated Site Assessment
Document reference 214390.02

Client name Historic England


Address The Engine House, Fire Fly Avenue, Swindon, SN2 2EH

Site location Off Lundy, Bristol Channel


County North Devon
National grid reference
Statutory designations
Planning authority
Planning reference
Museum name
Museum accession code

WA project code 214390


Dates of fieldwork 22-25/07/2019
Fieldwork directed by Graham Scott
Project management by Toby Gane
Document compiled by Graham Scott
Contributions from Keith Denby, Allan Platt, Bob Sexton
Graphics by Kitty Foster
Quality Assurance
Issue and date Status Author Approved by
1 Internal Draft GS
2 12.11.2019 External Draft GS

DATA LICENCES
This product has been derived in part from material obtained from the UK Hydrographic Office with the
permission of the UK Hydrographic Office and Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.
© Crown copyright, 2019. Wessex Archaeology Ref. HA294/007/316-01.
The following notice applies:
NOT TO BE USED FOR NAVIGATION
WARNING: The UK Hydrographic Office has not verified the information within this product and does not
accept liability for the accuracy of reproduction or any modifications made thereafter.
This product has been derived in part from material obtained from the UK Hydrographic Office with the
permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office and UK Hydrographic Office
(www.ukho.gov.uk).
NOT TO BE USED FOR NAVIGATION
Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database rights 2019
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SERVICES IN RELATION TO MARINE PROTECTION 2019-21
Undesignated Site Assessment

Contents
Summary ........................................................................................................................................iii
Acknowledgements .........................................................................................................................iv
1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................... 1
1.1 Assessment background............................................................................................... 1
2 ASSESSMENT AIMS AND OBJECTIVES ............................................................................ 1
3.2 Data audit .................................................................................................................... 2
3.3 Site position .................................................................................................................. 2
3.4 Geophysical survey ...................................................................................................... 2
3.5 ROV survey, sampling and finds ................................................................................... 2
3.6 Characterisation............................................................................................................ 3
4 RESULTS .............................................................................................................................. 4
4.1 Summary of progress against objectives ...................................................................... 4
4.2 Site position .................................................................................................................. 4
4.3 Operational summary.................................................................................................... 4
4.4 Summary site description .............................................................................................. 5
5 DISCUSSION ........................................................................................................................ 6
5.1 Site identification........................................................................................................... 6
5.2 Site characterisation ..................................................................................................... 6
5.3 Significance ................................................................................................................ 18
6 RISK ASSESSMENT........................................................................................................... 19
7 ASSESSMENT AGAINST NON-STATUTORY CRITERIA FOR DESIGNATION ................ 19
7.1 Assessment scale ....................................................................................................... 19
7.2 Non-statutory criteria assessment ............................................................................... 19
7.3 Summary .................................................................................................................... 23
8 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS ...................................................................... 23
9 ARCHIVE ............................................................................................................................ 25
REFERENCES ............................................................................................................................. 25
Bibliography ......................................................................................................................... 25
Online sources (Ship photographs) ...................................................................................... 26
APPENDICES .............................................................................................................................. 27
Appendix 1: ROV dive log .................................................................................................... 27
Appendix 2: Site Risk Assessment....................................................................................... 28
Appendix 3: DIVA Archaeological and Environmental Observation Points (DIVA Obs.) ....... 30

List of Figures
Figure 1 Site location
Figure 2 MBES images
Figure 3 SSS image of the cargo
Figure 4 DIVA observations and survey coverage
Figure 5 Section sketch of typical rail
Figure 6 Lloyd’s survey report 26 March 1868: scantlings
Figure 7 Ditto, mid-ship section as built
Figure 8 Plan of the passenger accommodation

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List of Plates
Cover: House flag of Devitt & Moore
Plate 1 Photograph of the South Australian in an unidentified port
Plate 2 Photograph of the South Australian at sea
Plate 3a-b Ceramic and glass recovered from the site

List of Tables
Table 1 Summary table
Table 2 Site co-ordinates
Table 3 Summary of site character

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Summary
Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Historic England in 2019 to undertake an
Undesignated Site Assessment of a shipwreck site in the Bristol Channel near Lundy, believed to
be the wreck of the late 19th century composite clipper South Australian. The work was undertaken
as part of the Archaeological Services in Relation to Marine Protection contract 2019-20. Historic
England is undertaking a thematic study into early iron and composite vessels and the wreck was
selected for assessment under this theme.

The site was identified as the South Australian in the early 2000s by a group of locally-based
avocational divers led by Keith Denby. Subsequently, Wessex Archaeology undertook a third-party
funded geophysical survey of the site with them in 2015.

The site is approximately 5.3km ENE of the Lundy North Lighthouse in the Bristol Channel. It lies
at a general depth of approximately 39m LAT. Diving is limited to very short ‘slack water’ periods
when the strong local tidal currents slow down. The site also receives very little shelter from
prevailing winds and diving operations are prone to weather disruption.

In co-operation with Keith Denby, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) survey was undertaken using
a Wessex Archaeology ROV on 22-25th July 2019, based out of Ilfracombe. An ROV was selected
instead of a dive team because the site is relatively deep for non-saturation diving at work and the
use of the ROV maximised working time, reduced risks and improved cost-effectiveness. One day
was lost to weather. Working depth was 43-48m.

The site as observed is dominated by a very large, rectangular stack of ferrous flat-bottomed
railway rails orientated SW-NE. Under most of the length of the stack on the NW side, the broken
and eroded edge of a ship hull can be seen. This is most exposed at the N end, where a complete
profile can be seen. The hull consists of angle iron frames, with wooden outer and thinner ceiling
planks. Although there is obscuring marine growth and concretion, in places the bolts attaching the
planks to the frames can be seen. These appear to be cuprous. The hull is clearly of composite
construction. At the SE and NW ends, debris extends more than 6m and 8m respectively, with
isolated outliers up to 16m to the NE. The ring and stock of a large Admiralty-type ferrous anchor
has been found at the NE end. At the SW end, the debris includes a cylindrical object which
appears likely to be either a capstan or winch drum. This is likely to be the remains of a capstan
situated between the main and mizzen mast. The wreck is clearly lying across the main flow of
current. As a result, a deep scour orientated E-W and more than 100m long has formed along the
NW side of the rail stack. There is a scatter of debris along this slope. This includes small and very
eroded fragments of ship hull and rails.

Wessex Archaeology is satisfied that Keith Denby and others have correctly identified the wreck as
the South Australian, a fast, square rigged sailing ship commonly known as a ‘clipper’. Built in
1867-8 in Sunderland for the important wool and passenger trades with South Australia and
particularly Adelaide, the ship was eventually bought by Northern Irish owners and lost in 1889 at
the start of a voyage to Argentina, carrying railway rails manufactured by the great railway foundry
of Dowlais at Merthyr Tydfil.

The South Australian is rich in historical associations and other significances linked to its physical
remains. These include:
 the ship was built for and engaged in the 19th century South Australian passenger
and wool trades and is therefore of likely significance to the people of Australia;

 as a vessel built partly for the Australian passenger trade, it is directly associated
with the great wave of emigration from the UK and Europe in the 19th century;

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 it was a clipper ship, no examples of which are currently designated;

 it was a composite ship, no examples of which are currently designated;

 it has always been closely associated with the City of Adelaide, a similar ship and a
high profile preserved historic vessel that is now in Australia;

 it was built by William Pile, one of the most important Sunderland shipbuilders;

 the cargo is from the Dowlais Iron Works, a key site in the Welsh Industrial
Revolution;

 the cargo is also associated with the rapid and revolutionary international expansion
of railways in the 19th century;

 the site is evidence of the strong commercial and cultural connections between
Britain and Argentina in the 19th century and of the British role in developing that
country post-independence; and

 it is part of the rich maritime heritage landscape that exists in the Bristol Channel off
Lundy.

Although only limited above-bed ship structure survives, Wessex Archaeology is of the opinion that
the site probably meets the criteria for designation under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. Due
to its wide-ranging 19th century historical associations, the site has strong group value and is a rare
example of a 19th century ocean-going clipper. Its association with the preserved composite vessel
City of Adelaide, now the subject of a well-publicised preservation project in Australia, also
contributes to its importance.

Assessment work such as this continues to strengthen existing third sector involvement in the
discovery, study and management of marine heritage assets in the Bristol Channel. In addition,
designation of the site would help to strengthen public awareness of the marine heritage
importance of the seabed around Lundy. The local economy depends upon tourism and marine
heritage designations contribute to positive perceptions of an attractive environment. Whilst the site
is not likely to contribute substantially to diver tourism, there is potential for it to contribute
modestly.

The site has been risk-assessed in accordance with Historic England guidelines and found to be at
medium risk. The site is moderately robust, due to the inherent strength and durability of the steel
rails. However, it is subject to natural decline. As protection from this is likely to be impractical, it is
important that this site should be subject to further archaeological recording.

Acknowledgements
This report was commissioned by Historic England. The assistance of Designation Advisor Mark
Dunkley, Maritime Archaeologist Hefin Meara and Marine Information Officer Serena Cant is
gratefully acknowledged.

Wessex Archaeology is particularly grateful to diver/researcher Keith Denby for sharing his archive
and participating in the fieldwork, and to researchers Allan Platt and Bob Sexton for information,
documents and advice.
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Wessex Archaeology would also like to thank the following persons and organisations:

• local dive charter operator Andrew Bengey and the crew of Obsession II;
• Ilfracombe and North Devon Sub Aqua Club and members; and
• Lloyd’s Register Foundation, Heritage & Archive Centre.

The assessment was carried out by a Wessex archaeology team comprising ROV pilots Graham
Scott and Robert Mackintosh, assisted by Keith Denby. Graham Scott was the project officer and
carried out research, directed the fieldwork and compiled the report. The graphics were prepared
by Kitty Brandon. Social media activity was undertaken by the Wessex Archaeology Social Media
Team, with assistance from Graham Scott. Toby Gane managed the project and carried out quality
assurance. Overall quality assurance was provided by the Director of Wessex Archaeology Coastal
& Marine, Dan Atkinson.

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ARCH SERVICES IN RELATION TO MARINE PROTECTION


2019-21

Undesignated Site Assessment

1 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Assessment background


1.1.1 Wessex Archaeology (WA) was commissioned by Historic England in 2019 to undertake
an Undesignated Site Assessment of a shipwreck site in the Bristol Channel near Lundy,
believed to be the wreck of the late 19th century composite clipper South Australian. The
work was undertaken as part of the Archaeological Services in Relation to Marine
Protection contract 2019-20.

1.1.2 The site was identified as the South Australian in the early 2000s by a group of locally-
based avocational divers led by Keith Denby, who remains a key stakeholder. Historic
England is undertaking a thematic study into early iron and composite vessels and the
wreck had been selected under this theme for assessment.

2 ASSESSMENT AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

2.1.1 The overall aim of the project was an undesignated site assessment. Detailed primary and
secondary objectives were specified in the Client Brief 1. Following discussions between
Historic England and WA and the decision to use a remotely operated vehicle (ROV),
these were modified to produce the following objectives:

 undertake a limited data audit to inform the undesignated site assessment;

 review existing geophysical data and reprocess/reinterpret as necessary;

 carry out an acoustically tracked ROV visual inspection of the site to Level 2a,
recording the results using DIVA;

 undertake a BULSI characterisation and review the site against the non-statutory
designation criteria for scheduling;

 risk assess the site;

 produce an archive for the above work;

 facilitate the participation of Keith Denby in the assessment; and

 provide public updates on the fieldwork via the WA webpage and other WA social
media.

2.1.2 The following products were specified in the Brief. This document is P1:

1 Historic England 2019


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 P1 – Undesignated Site Assessment (suitable for public release); and

 P2 – An archive including documentary and digital data, complied to current


accepted standards 2 and transferred to the appropriate accredited repository.

3 METHODOLOGY

3.1.1 All fieldwork procedures and standards complied with the relevant guidance by the
Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA; website accessed July 2019).

3.2 Data audit


3.2.1 A limited audit of existing primary and secondary sources relevant to the site location has
been undertaken. This audit does not amount to a full desk-based assessment.

3.2.2 The results of archive research carried out by third parties has been used, where it
appears to be reliable. This has helped the audit to be carried out cost-effectively. The
sources of data not compiled by WA have been stated. The assessment has benefitted
from access to the data generated by the local site investigators, including their web site. 3

3.2.3 Lloyd’s survey papers, including as-designed and as-built midship sections survive at
Lloyd’s Register’s Heritage & Education Centre, but this archive was closed during the
compiling of this report. Reliance has therefore been placed on photocopies of the
sections and a copy letter written by Alan Platt who examined the papers in 1999 4. Plans
of the passenger accommodation of the South Australian are reported to exist amongst
Devitt & Moore papers dating to c.1870-85 held by Royal Museums Greenwich (National
Maritime Museum) 5. However, it was not considered cost-effective to examine these, as
evidence of the passenger accommodation was not found on site.

3.3 Site position


3.3.1 The position for the wreck given in Table 2 is derived from existing MBES data for the site
obtained from the UKHO. The quality of the data has been assessed and WA believes it
to be sufficiently reliable and accurate for the purposes of this assessment. The position
was confirmed during the 2019 WA fieldwork by USBL survey.

3.4 Geophysical survey


3.4.1 A sidescan sonar (SSS) survey was undertaken by WA for Ilfracombe and North Devon
Sub-Aqua Club and Historic England in 2015 and is reported upon separately. 6 A
multibeam echo-sounder (MBES) hydrographic survey was undertaken in 2007-8 for the
Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The resulting dataset was reprocessed and interpreted
by WA in 2015. These datasets and interpretation were reviewed by WA in 2019 prior to
the ROV fieldwork, but no further work was required.

3.5 ROV survey, sampling and finds


3.5.1 In consultation with Historic England, it was decided to carry out fieldwork using a
remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The site is regarded locally as a difficult dive and the

2 Brown 2011.
3 https://le2fp.co.uk/sa-home
4 Copies provided by Keith Denby.
5 Collection reference DEM/52.
6 Wessex Archaeology 2015

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depth of the site (over 40m) and the very tidal, low visibility conditions reported by local
divers (current speeds up to 4.5 knots) meant that the use of an ROV was a safer and
more cost-effective option than using divers.

3.5.2 The ROV used was a WA-owned 100m-rated BlueROV 2 in ‘heavy configuration’, with a
300m umbilical. In addition to its normal payload of HD cctv camera and LED lights, to
ensure adequate navigation and imaging in low visibility it was fitted externally with a
Sonardyne USBL acoustic tracking beacon and a 15,000-lumen video light. The ROV was
piloted by two WA pilot/technician-archaeologists.

3.5.3 The ROV support vessel (ROVSV) was Obsession II, a local diving charter
vessel/workboat. Use of a local vessel and crew provided expertise in site-specific tidal
and weather conditions. It also helped foster local stakeholder interest in the site and
benefitted the local economy.

3.5.4 Archaeological, environmental and operational data was recorded using Wessex
Archaeology’s proprietary real-time DIVA system. This is an MS Access database with an
ArcGIS front end. A Sonardyne Scout Pro USBL acoustic positioning system was used to
navigate the ROV and to provide positional data for archaeological features and other
observations recorded using DIVA.

3.5.5 Keith Denby, who has dived and studied the wreck, participated in the fieldwork as an
active observer. His existing knowledge of the wreck and of the ship’s history helped the
on-site decision-making process and dive-specific objectives were discussed and agreed
with him.

3.5.6 Fieldwork data not recorded by Wessex Archaeology has been integrated into the
assessment. The source of the data is stated where appropriate.

3.5.7 The survey was non-intrusive. Therefore, no finds or samples were recovered.

3.6 Characterisation
3.6.1 The site has been both described and characterised. Table 3 uses a recognised method
of describing wreck sites. Section 5.2 uses the ‘BULSI’ scheme to provide a wider
characterisation. 7 This scheme presents site and contextual data as a vessel and site
‘biography’ under the following themes:

 Build – the design and construction of the vessel;

 Use – the use of the vessel before it was lost;

 Loss – how the vessel was lost, including initial shipwreck site formation processes;

 Survival – what has happened to the site since, including subsequent site formation
and modification processes and the current condition of the vessel; and

 Investigation – what is known about post-loss salvage and site investigation.

7 WA 2006
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4 RESULTS

4.1 Summary of progress against objectives


4.1.1 Table 1 shows the progress that has been made against the fieldwork objectives
presented in Section 2.

Table 1 Summary table


Objective Progress
Undertake a limited data audit to inform the Completed. Data gathered before or during fieldwork
undesignated site assessment. was used to support and direct the survey.
Review existing geophysical data and Completed. The data was used during fieldwork and
reprocess/reinterpret as necessary. subsequently.
Carry out an acoustically tracked ROV visual Mostly completed. Insufficient time on site was
inspection of the site to Level 2a, recording the results available to complete a Level 2a. survey.
using DIVA.
Undertake a BULSI characterisation and review the Completed.
site against the non-statutory designation criteria for
scheduling.
Risk assess the site. Completed.
Produce an archive for the above work. Ongoing.
Facilitate the participation of Keith Denby in the Completed. Keith Denby participated in fieldwork and
assessment. has provided archive data, including video and stills.
He has facilitated initial contact with subject experts
Alan Platt and Bob Sexton. He has also proposed a
joint conference presentation. A partial draft of this
report has been disclosed to him for comment.
Provide public updates on the fieldwork via the WA Ongoing.
webpage and other WA social media.

4.2 Site position


4.2.1 The site is in the Bristol Channel, approximately 5.3km ENE of the Lundy North
Lighthouse, at a general depth of approximately 39m LAT. The following position has
been derived from the MBES data and is for the estimated centre point of the cargo stack
(Figures 2 & 4). USBL data gathered during the ROV survey is consistent with this
position.

Table 2 Site co-ordinates


Position WGS84 Long/Lat (Decimal WGS84 UTM 31N
Degrees)
Approximate centre of cargo Longitude 51° 12.80469´ Easting 388060
stack (UKHO MBES data) Latitude 04° 36.16114´ Northing 5674778

4.3 Operational summary


4.3.1 ROV survey was undertaken on 22-25th July 2019, based out of Ilfracombe. One day was
lost due to poor weather. Five dives were undertaken, all limited by the very short slack
water periods experienced on site. One dive was aborted after five minutes due to loss of
slack, but total dive time was 195 minutes. Working depth was 43-48m. Figure 3 shows
survey coverage, based upon the dive track buffered for the estimated underwater
visibility.

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4.4 Summary site description


4.4.1 This section of the report describes the site as observed by WA in 2019. It is based upon
(and should be read in conjunction with) the DIVA observations in Appendix 3 and a
review of still and video imagery recorded during the fieldwork. DIVA observation UIDs are
given in 10000 sequence numbers. Data recorded by Keith Denby and others during
previous investigations is integrated into the BULSI analysis in Section 5.2.

4.4.2 The site as observed is dominated by a very large, rectangular stack of ferrous rails
orientated SW-NE (Figures 2 & 3). This stack is approximately 26m long by 8m wide and
has near-vertical sides (10083). 8 The rails are clearly arranged in a pattern in layers, with
some layers orientated with the long axis of the stack and others orientated diagonally
across it. Although the dimensions of individual rails were not measured, they all appear
to be typical flat-bottomed rails with pronounced head, web and foot (10106-7).

4.4.3 Many rails have become displaced from their original positions in the stack and there are
numerous small voids suggestive of movement. At the NE end, multiple rails appear to
have slid forward to the NE (Figures 2 & 3; 10067). On the NW side, towards the NE end,
a section of rails has spilled out individually to the N and NW and are either lying leaning
onto the seabed or on the seabed, alongside the stack (10110). Some rails appear to
have been displaced from the upper surface of the stack and are lying across it (Figure
3). To the SW there are some rails that have slid in that direction out of the stack (10101).

4.4.4 There is a large hole in the top of the stack, which measures approximately 4m by 2m
(Figures 2 & 3; 10081). Depth was not measured, but it appears to be most, if not all the
depth of the stack. Given the position of the hole relative to the ends of the stack, it is
likely to represent a deliberate gap between the now absent main mast and the cargo. On
the SW side of the hole, a metal pipe emerges from the hole, where it is broken off
(10082). It is not clear whether it is in situ. If it is, then it is likely to be the pump casing,
normally positioned immediately behind the mainmast in ship of this type.

4.4.5 Under most of the length of the stack on the NW side, the broken and eroded edge of a
ship hull can be seen. This is most exposed at the N end, where a complete profile can be
seen (10118). The hull consists of angle iron frames, with wooden outer and thinner
ceiling planks. Although there is obscuring marine growth and concretion, in places the
bolts attaching the planks to the frames can be seen. These appear to be cuprous. The
hull is clearly of composite construction.

4.4.6 At the SE and NW ends, debris extends more than 6m and 8m respectively, with isolated
outliers up to 16m to the NE. The ring of a large Admiralty-type ferrous anchor has been
found at the NE end (10064). The stock is missing, and the crown and arms are buried.
There is no evidence of chain. The presence of this anchor suggests that the bow of the
vessel lies to the NE. Fish plate-like metal objects were found to the NE of the stack
(10071). 9

4.4.7 At the SW end, the debris includes a cylindrical object which appears likely to be either a
capstan or winch drum (10102-4). This is likely to be the remains of a capstan situated
between the main and mizzen mast. Associated with this is wooden debris, which may be
the remains of displaced planking (10105).

8 The stack is reported to have been measured by ILFSAC divers as 89 feet 5 inches long (27.5m long); see
WA 2015:8.
9 In rail terminology, a fishplate is a means of fastening the ends of two rails together to form a track.

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4.4.8 The wreck is clearly lying across the main flow of current. As a result, a deep scour
orientated E-W has formed along the NW side of the rail stack (Figure 2). This is more
than 100m long. There is a scatter of debris along this slope. This includes small and very
eroded fragments of ship hull and rails (10116 & 10119).

5 DISCUSSION

5.1 Site identification


5.1.1 The objectives set in the Brief did not require the question of identification to be examined
as part of the assessment. Whilst it has therefore been assumed that the wreck has been
correctly identified as the South Australian, the vessel is clearly of composite construction,
the South Australian is known to have been carrying railway track and neither WA nor
Keith Denby 10 have come across any record of another composite vessel having sunk in
the vicinity. Barring a highly unlikely unrecorded loss, the wreck appears to have been
correctly identified.

5.1.2 Alan Platt has suggested that the reported position of the loss (see 5.2.28) may have
been based on dead reckoning and that the position of abandonment may have been
many miles to the west of this. 11 It follows that the 6-inch gap in the cargo port that is
reported to have caused the ship to founder would have resulted in an inwards flow of
about 20 tons per minute, sinking the ship within 20 minutes and potentially well to the
west of the site. However, if the gap was smaller or the opening partially blocked then the
sinking could have taken much longer, making the site within reach.

5.2 Site characterisation


5.2.1 The site can be characterised as follows, using the BULSI method.

Build
5.2.2 Photographs of the South Australian survive and show it to be a three-masted ship-rigged
merchant ship (Plate 1). Registered tonnage was 1039 tons. Length was 201 feet
(61.26m), main breadth 36 feet (10.97m) and depth in hold 20.1 feet (6.12m) 12. Scantlings
and other details of construction are given in the Lloyd’s survey report of 1868 (Figure
6) 13. This also contains draft and as-built midship sections.

5.2.3 The ship was hull number 160 built by William Pile & Co. at their yard at North Sands in
the major shipbuilding centre of Sunderland. Constructed in 1867-8, the ship was
launched on 24 February 1868. The wreck is one of sixteen recorded by the NRHE as
ships built by William Pile.

5.2.4 The South Australian is usually described as a ‘clipper’, defined by Historic England as a
generic term for fast sailing ships with schooner rig and fine hull lines 14. Alan Villiers
defined a clipper as follows:

10 Keith Denby, pers. com.


11 Alan Platt, undated.
12 Customs House Register Form 19, dated 4 June 1868 and 11 November 1887. The Lloyd’s survey of 26

March 1868 gives slightly different measurements: 200 feet (60.9m) length aloft and 20 feet 4 inches (6.19m)
depth from top of upper deck beam to top of floor (ceiling).
13 Reference unknown; copies provided by Bill Sexton.
14 Historic England Thesaurus.

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“To sailors, three things made a ship a clipper. She must be sharp-lined, built for
speed. She must be tall-sparred and carry the utmost spread of canvas. And she
must use that sail, day and night, fair weather and foul.” 15

5.2.5 David MacGregor adopted a similar definition, stating that to be a clipper, a ship must
have: a fine-lined hull; an emphasis on streamlined appearance; a large sail area; and a
daring and skilful master.” 16 The clipper ship era is now generally taken to be applicable to
the period 1840-70. All vessels built within this period with a sharp hull form tended to be
referred to as clippers. 17

5.2.6 The archaeological evidence gathered in 2019 and previously does not allow us to confirm
that the ship had the fine lines necessary to be described as a clipper. Too much of the
hull is missing and what is known to be present is largely buried. However, the description
of the ship given in the Lloyds survey report is clearly that of a fine lined vessel.
Furthermore, Pile’s reputation as a builder of clippers and the photographs of the ship
leave no room for doubt that the South Australian was a clipper.

5.2.7 William Pile was an innovative shipbuilder and a leading builder of clippers, who brought
the construction of those ships to Sunderland. John Thompson saw his yard in 1850 and
later wrote:

“At this period a complete revolution in shipbuilding took place, when both Mr. John
Pile and his brother William got in full swing. Their mode of construction eclipsed all
that had ever previously taken place on the Wear, and even in any other part of the
country ... their vessels were acknowledged, and held by many, to be the swiftest
sailing vessels in the China trade, known as Opium Clippers and Tea Clippers.” 18

5.2.8 The Sunderland Times of 18 June 1873 claimed of Pile that: “His genius was displayed in
the building of ships, wherein he was not excelled. As Watt was great as a builder of
engines; and Stephenson was great as a builder of railways; so William Pile was great as
a builder of ships.”

5.2.9 Although he built steamers, Pile’s name was made in merchant sailing ships. He
developed a reputation for the speed of the vessels he built and several famous China tea
clippers, for whom speed meant everything, including Kelso, Maitland and Undine were
built in his yard 19. Pile is said to have maintained that a good beam and a clean run were
essential for a ‘crack ship’.

5.2.10 The South Australian was built with a ‘composite’ hull, meaning that it had a wooden shell
built around an iron frame. Composite construction was a phase in the 19th century
transition from wood to iron and then steel as the primary construction material of large
vessels.

5.2.11 Iron had considerable advantages over wood as a construction material. Iron hulls had
greater powers of resistance from all directions and established a reputation for

15 Villiers, 1962: 216


16 MacGregor, 1979: 3
17 MacGregor, 1988: 26.
18 John Thompson, date unknown
19 A half model of the 1865 Maitland was in the possession of shipbuilders Joseph L Thompson & Sons Ltd

in Sunderland. Plans are understood to be in the possession of RMG. See MacGregor 1988, Fig. 312 for
lines.
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survivability when driven ashore. Iron ships were also much less vulnerable to fire.
Furthermore, a smaller volume of material was required to build a merchant ship from
iron, and this yielded significant savings in cost and cargo space. Iron ships arguably also
required less upkeep.

5.2.12 However, a number of difficulties emerged with the iron construction in the 1830s and
1840’s that help explain the adoption of composite construction in the middle years of the
century. Aside from the difficulty in obtaining enough good quality iron, poor quality
shipbuilding and the occasionally disastrous effect of iron hulls on ship compasses,
ferrous hulls were also highly susceptible to the build-up of marine growth. This could
easily reduce an iron ship’s forward speed by nine or more percent 20, seriously impacting
profitability. At the time, effective anti-fouling coatings did not exist. A tried and tested
solution was available in wooden ship building, that of copper sheathing. However, this
was not appropriate for iron hulls because of the galvanic reaction that occurs between
the two metals in water. The solution adopted for this was to use a combination of iron
frames and wooden planking, with copper sheathing attached to the planking. The wood
insulated the iron from the copper.

5.2.13 Fieldwork carried out by WA with the help of Keith Denby in 2019 and previously by a
group led by Keith Denby and assisted by Alan Platt has clearly shown that the site is of a
wrecked vessel of composite construction. The 1868 Lloyd’s survey recorded that “The
planking is fastened with yellow metal screw bolts, from the lower part of the keel up to the
height of one fifth of the depth of the hold, below the upper side of the upper deck, but the
whole of the fastenings above this height are of properly galvanised iron.” 21 Although
cuprous fastenings have been observed on the wreck by both WA and Keith Denby, who
is of the opinion that they are of ‘yellow metal’, it has not yet been confirmed that they
have a screw thread.

5.2.14 As an early adopter of iron construction, William Pile constructed the South Australian
when Lloyd’s rules on composite vessel design were gradually being introduced. Pile’s
initial design reached Lloyd’s in September 1867. Informed only by the single page
guidance document issued by Lloyd’s, Pile found that his original design, which omitted
the usual side diagonals outboard of the frames in favour of a deep longitudinal plate, was
rejected. Nevertheless, the ship was built without diagonals (Figure 7). The as-built
section shows that the ship had ceiling of Baltic Red Pine covering the floor and bilges
and the side of the hull between decks. Given that there appears to be no indication that
the ship is on its side, the ceiling planking observed on site (10114 & 10118) appears to
be from the hold. This and the relatively modest depth of the frames visible indicates that
the surviving hull is therefore from the turn of the bilge area highlighted in Figure 7. It is
not possible to confirm the type of timber present on site, as sampling will be required.

5.2.15 The 1868 Lloyd’s survey states that the frames were single and “double angle iron”, the
latter commonly called Z-angle. The ends of the frames observed on site were clearly
angle, but due to corrosion, concretion and marine growth it could not be determined
whether they were single or double. Frame spacing could not be measured but appeared
to be closer in places than the 18 inches (0.46m) recorded in the survey. The survey

20 Ville 1993: 54.


21 Ibid, Customs House Register Form 19.
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records angle and bulb used on the ship as having been rolled by “Palmers”, short for
Palmers’ Shipbuilding & Iron Company Ltd. 22

5.2.16 The 1868 survey also records that the ship was equipped with an Emerson & Walker’s
Patent Windlass. The mid-19th century saw considerable improvements to deck fittings
designed to handle anchors and rigging. Particular attention was given to producing
improved windlasses to make them more efficient and the windlass fitted to the South
Australian was of this modern, labour saving type. However, this windlass is probably the
forward windlass whose capstan is visible in photographs of the ship. The possible
capstan drum located on site SW of the rail stack (10102-5) is therefore likely to be from
the second capstan located aft of the main mast and of unknown type. This is likely to
have fallen from an original deck position above the SE end of the rail stack. The ship is
also reported in the survey to have been fitted with a“Glover’s patent steering apparatus”.

5.2.17 Plans of the ship’s First- and Second-Class passenger accommodation survive (Figure
8). The First-Class accommodation was below the poop deck, the Second-Class is
assumed to have been below this. The master was accommodated with the First-Class
Passengers, the officers and cook with the Second Class. It is not known whether this
accommodation was removed when it entered the service of William Woodside. No trace
of it has been observed and recognised on site, although it is possible that it could be
buried or survive in fragmentary form in the debris on the west side. The 1889 Lloyd’s
survey records the poop

5.2.18 The ship’s masts and yards were built by the Wreath Quay Iron Works in Sunderland.
Specifications for them survive.

Use
5.2.19 The South Australia was built for Devitt & Moore, a partnership set up in 1836 by Thomas
Henry Devitt (1800-1860) and Joseph Moore (1836-1870). Beginning as trading brokers
for merchants who owned sailing vessels on the Australia run, under Thomas Devitt’s
eldest son, Thomas Lane Devitt (1839-1923), who had joined the company in 1855, the
business was greatly expanded. In 1863 the company purchased its first sailing ships and
began their long association with the passenger and cargo trade to Australia, specialising
in sailing ships (they purchased only one steamship). Their ships included the famous
frigate-built passenger ships Dunbar Castle, La Hogue and Parramata, which sailed to
Melbourne and Sydney 23, as well as the City of Adelaide and the South Australian, which
served the South Australian passenger and wool trades. As a result, the house flag
(Cover) became well known across Victoria and New South Wales. As the importance of
the sailing ship in the Australian trade began to decline towards the end of the 19th
century, the company turned its attention to the training of sea cadets and eventually
established Devitt & Moore Nautical College.

5.2.20 The following is the 1869 Lloyd’s Register entry for the South Australian. The ship was
classified A1 for 17 years:

22 http://www.tynebuiltships.co.uk/Palmer-History.html
23 Lubbock 1948:
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5.2.21 The South Australian and the City of Adelaide were built for the South Australian wool
trade. From the early 1850s, South Australia sent wool to Britain via Adelaide in exchange
for general cargoes from London. This trade was controlled by a small number of firms,
including Devitt & Moore. The City of Adelaide served the Adelaide run exclusively,
whereas the South Australian sometimes called at Melbourne.

5.2.22 The ships engaged in this trade were smaller composite clippers. Being generally smaller
than the larger vessels operating in the tea trade and in the trade with Sydney and
Melbourne, they developed a reputation for being wet boats that were driven hard. It was
said that they “took a dive on leaving the tropics, came up to breathe at the Cape and did
not reappear again until off Cape Borda” close to Adelaide 24. A captain was considered to
have made a bad passage if he was not at Cape Borda in 70 days. The price of a wet
crew was frequent desertions on arrival in Adelaide. The following contemporary account
gives a flavour of how tough life was on one of these ships 25:

“They loaded some of the golden fleece at the Port and the rest perhaps at Port
Augusta at the head of Spencer’s Gulf. There one could see at times quite a clump
of pretty little clippers lying in the stream between the mango-clad shores, waiting
for the camel trains to come in from Pekina and Coonatto and Mount Remarkable.
Much rivalry there was too between the ships, as to which should get her hatches
battened down first, complete her crew and clear away for the February wool sales.
And men in those days were not easy to procure, for the long, cold Cape Horn
passage and the prospect of shipping again out of London at 50s. per month were
not very tempting experiences. Thus it often happened crews ran in Port Adelaide
and “runners” or temporary hands, just shipped for the trip, had to be engaged to
take the vessel round to Port Augusta. These returning by the Penola or the Royal
Shepherd or the Aldinga left the shipmasters to trust in providence for men to work
the vessels home. But, now and again, bushmen coming down country for a spree
at ‘the Port’, a mere hamlet, consisting then mainly of gnats, sand and galvanised
iron, would be induced, once their money was gone, to sign articles for the trip
home. Men who had never thought to use the sea again, bullock drovers, boundary
riders, shepherds and station hands of every description were thus often found on
board the clippers of the composite wool fleet. Many of them had not been at sea for
years; but before they got the smell of ice in their nostrils all the old tricks of the craft
came back to them and better crowds no skipper could wish for, if at times apt to be
a little intolerant and careless of discipline, with the liberal life of the bush so close
behind them.

A hard experience, too, it generally proved for them, quite unprovided as they (for
the most part) were with a sea-going outfit of any description and dependent on the
often scantily supplied slop chest. And many a time when washing along the decks
in icy Cape Horn seas or hoisting the frozen canvas aloft, while hail and rain pelted
and soaked them, poorly fed, poorly clad, the merest sport of the bitter southern
weather, they regretted with oaths deep and sincere their snug bunks and ‘all night
in’ of the far away bush stations, where tempests troubled them not and the loud
command of ‘all hands’ was unknown. Nor, as a rule, London Town once reached,
did they lose any time in looking for a ship bound to some part of the country they
had so foolishly left.”

24 Lubbock 1948: 121.


25 Lubbock 1948: 122-3.
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5.2.23 The two ships were also built to serve the passenger trade, mainly of emigrants to
Australia. This connection with 19th century emigrants is largely responsible for the current
interest being shown in the preserved City of Adelaide by the people of South Australia.
Despite being driven hard, the South Australian developed a reputation for comfort
because of its purpose-built First- and Second-Class passenger accommodation and
because it proved to be a fine sea boat. A typescript passenger journal by R. J. Minchin
dated 11 June 1883 to 15 December 1883 survives in the archive collection of Royal
Museums Greenwich (National Maritime Museum) 26. Due to time constraints it has not
been examined for the purposes of this assessment.

5.2.24 Although not able to match the smaller City of Adelaide’s 65-day run from London to
Adelaide, in 1883 the South Australian was nevertheless able to reach London from
Melbourne in a respectable 98 days. However, in 1886-7 the same journey took 112
days 27. Figure 4 shows typical sailing routes between Britain and Australia.

5.2.25 In 1887 the South Australian was sold. The ship therefore entered the second and much
shorter phase of its career. The reason why it was sold is not known, but it was
presumably because it was no longer economically viable to operate it in Devitt & Moore’s
core business, the trade with Australia. The following is the subsequent Lloyd’s Register
entry for 1889:

5.2.26 The ship was acquired for £1500 by William Woodside of Belfast and transferred to that
city’s registry. Ownership was vested in a company set up for the purpose, the Ship South
Australian Company Limited, managed by Messrs. Woodside & Company. Both William
Woodside and the master, James Arthurs, were shareholders. The ship required
moderate remedial work and it was dry docked for repairs which cost £682 28.

5.2.27 The ship then made two trading voyages. The first was from London to India and then
London to New Brunswick in Canada, before returning to Belfast. The cargo carried during
these voyages is unknown. As the original Lloyd’s class A1 had expired, the ship was then
dry docked in Belfast for inspection. This identified several issues and repairs were
undertaken by the Belfast shipbuilders Workman & Clarke at a cost of almost £2600
pounds, following which the A1 class was continued for another 13 years from December
1889.

Loss
5.2.28 With 352 tons of iron ore as ballast, the ship left Belfast under steam tug tow for Cardiff on
18th January 1889. Arriving in Cardiff Roads on the 20th, the ship was berthed in East Bute
Dock on the 21st. After discharging the iron ore, the ship commenced loading on the 25th,
this time with 5,380 steel rails, weighing about 1330 tons, and 1067 bundles of fish plates,
weighing about 75 tons 29. It is not known whether any surviving dock structures or
buildings were involved with the loading.

26 MSS 82/172.
27 Lubbock 1948: 362 & 364.
28 Board of Trade Report of Court “South Australian”, 14th March 1889.
29 Ibid.

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5.2.29 The shipper was the Dowlais Iron Company. Founded in 1759 and based in the major iron
and steel producing town of Merthyr Tydfil, Dowlais was one of the most important
enterprises of the Industrial Revolution in Wales. It was the first ironworks to license the
Bessemer Process, using it to first make steel in 1865. In the mid-19th century it was the
largest ironworks in the world and later that century became the biggest steel producer in
Britain 30.

5.2.30 Dowlais was involved in producing products for the railway industry from a very early
stage. In 1791 it is believed to have manufactured the first iron rails as opposed to plates
and these were laid on the Dowlais waggon-way connecting it with the head of the
Glamorgan Canal31. 1821 it manufactured the rails for the world’s first passenger railway,
the Stockton & Darlington, and in the years that followed it increasingly specialised in
rolling wrought iron rails. The worldwide explosion in railway construction in the 19th
century meant that much of Dowlais’ production was for export and in 1844 it supplied
Russia with more than 50,000 tons of rail. The early adoption of the Bessamer process
made Dowlais well-placed to supply this international market as demand turned from
wrought iron to steel rails.

5.2.31 The same Board of Trade (BoT) report states that the South Australian was bound for
Rosario. This was, and still is, a major inland port on the Paraná River in the central
Argentinian province of Santa Fe, 300km north-west of Buenos Aires. The end customer
is not stated, but it was almost certainly a company involved in the building of the railway
network in Argentina.

5.2.32 Railway construction began slowly in Argentina in 1857, five years after the end of the civil
wars that followed independence from Spain. However, the government understood that a
railway network could unlock the country’s great agricultural potential and facilitate the
arrival of the immigrant labour required to develop it. By encouraging foreign investors
with the necessary expertise, they ensured that Argentina went from 29 miles of track in
1862 to a nationwide network of more than 15,000 miles in 1948, when the private railway
companies were nationalised. In the late 19th century the British were at the forefront of
railway development worldwide. The Argentinian network was largely built and owned by
British investors, who controlled 81% of the track in 1890.

5.2.33 It has not proved possible to identify the railway company which the South Australian’s
cargo was being shipped within the context of this assessment. Tata Steel is the ultimate
successor company of Dowlais, but their Records Centre has confirmed that it does not
hold any relevant records for this period. Nevertheless, the lines being built in 1889 are
identifiable and it is conceivable, although unlikely, that further research of any surviving
rail company archives may establish the identity of the end user.

5.2.34 The track, or ‘permanent way’, of the principal trunk lines and the capital’s suburban
network was initially built from 85 lb section rails, but these were gradually replaced by
100 lb section flat bottom rails. For the cross-country secondary and branch lines, flat
bottom rails varying between 70 and 80 lb were used. Rails would have been joined to
each other using fish plates and fixed to the locally-sourced wooden sleepers by dog
spikes, except on the suburban Buenos Aires lines, where the rails were secured to the
sleepers by special steel plate fasteners with clips and through bolts.

30 http://www.engineering-timelines.com/scripts/engineeringItem.asp?id=1390
31 Dow 2014: 8.
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5.2.35 The BoT report does not give the dimensions or weight of the rails. Figure 5 shows a
sketch drawing of the section of a sample rail drawn by Keith Denby. It is a typical flat
bottom rail, with a distinct head, web and foot and a flanged ‘T’ section. Section
dimensions are recorded as 8cm 3.14”) and 12cm (4.72”) width across the head and
flange base respectively and a height of 14cm (5.51”). These measurements were taken
as accurately as the circumstances allowed, but the rail was not cleaned to bare metal for
the inspection 32. The length of the rail measured is unknown. Although measurements
were not taken in 2019, review of the video and still imagery generated during the WA
fieldwork suggests this flat bottom T-section rail is likely to be typical of the cargo.

5.2.36 It has been reported that a rail has been measured by divers as 42 feet 3 inches long
(12.3m). 33 This would be somewhat longer than the standard length of British rails in the
1880s, which were 24 or 32 feet. However, rails became longer, 45 feet becoming
standard by 1915. 34 No information concerning the length of rails ordered by Argentine
railway companies at this time has been traced.

5.2.37 Due to the limited number of measurements and uncertainty about their precision, it is not
possible to calculate the rail weight. However, it is probably in the range 90-100 lb 35. No
obvious variation in design between rails or between separate sections or layers of the
cargo can be identified, although a detailed survey of the cargo was beyond the scope of
the work and these comments should therefore be considered provisional.

5.2.38 Considerable detail is given in the BoT report concerning the stowage and securing of the
cargo, which was undertaken by a stevedore employed by the ship and supervised by the
Dowlais stevedore. They were assisted by the experienced wharfinger of Dowlais and by
the mate of the ship. All are recorded as having extensive experience in the loading of iron
cargoes, the stevedores having 24 and 45 years respectively:

32 Keith Denby, pers. comm.


33 WA 2015: 9
34 Dow 2014: 162-3
35 Per foot

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5.2.39 The arrangement and securing of the cargo in the hold was designed to prevent individual
rails from breaking free in a heavy sea and putting a hole in the side of the ship below the
waterline. They were also designed to prevent the cargo moving en masse and either
putting a similar and perhaps larger hole in the side or upsetting the ship’s stability and
capsizing it. Both calamities would have been extremely hard to rectify at sea and would
have almost inevitably led to the rapid loss of the ship. In the open ocean the chances of
survival for the crew would have been slim. Securing the cargo and preventing it from
breaking free or shifting was therefore a critical task that needed to be perfected before
the ship sailed.

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5.2.40 No sign of the additional protective planking and dunnage was observed during the
fieldwork. It is likely that this has eroded away with the ship’s sides. The 1-inch planking
laid on the ceiling is likely to be present under the rails and if sediment could be removed
from the locations where the ceiling can be seen, it may be possible to observe it. The
exact arrangement of the layers of rails was not established during the survey, although
rails are deliberately arranged both longitudinally and transversely and possibly also
diagonally and this is consistent in principle with the description of how the cargo was
loaded. More detailed analysis of the ROV video may provide further information as to the
arrangement. However, survey work that goes considerably beyond what was possible in
2019 is likely to be required.

5.2.41 The crew list for the South Australian’s last voyage, signed by the master, James Arthurs,
survives in the Maritime History Archive of the Memorial University of Newfoundland. 36
The ship sailed from Cardiff with a crew of twenty-four. The second mate and a boy joined
the ship at Cardiff, the remainder had been taken on in Belfast. The boy was Joseph
Woodside, born in 1871 and the owner’s brother.

5.2.42 The BoT report sets out what is known about the last voyage. The ship left Cardiff at
16:00 on 13 February, towed by a steam tug. This was normal practice for large sailing
vessels leaving Cardiff. The assistance of a tug meant that a sailing ship could leave port
when it might otherwise be weather-bound and reduced the dangers of collision and
stranding in the narrow and very busy upper reaches of the Bristol Channel. A moderate
breeze was blowing from the north and the sea was described as smooth, no doubt due to
the lack of fetch from that direction.

5.2.43 At 02:20 the following morning and seven miles north of Lundy, the tug cast off. By this
time the moderate wind had moved around to the SW and it was described as overcast.
However, the sea was still smooth. The ship headed south on a starboard tack. With the
wind freshening from the west, at 03:30 it wore around to the port tack, heading NNW. At
06:00 the wind was described as blowing hard and the upper sails were brought in. At
08:00 the ship was brought around to the starboard tack again and sail was again taken
in. It was kept on that tack, heading SSW and making about 2.5 knots. By noon the wind
had moderated and additional sails were set. By 16:00 the ship was about 10 miles WNW
of Lundy. At 20:00 the ship was brought around onto the port tack, heading NNW.
However, by 11:30 the wind had again picked up, this time to a gale with a heavy sea.
The ship is reported to have begun labouring heavily and again sail was taken in. Shortly
afterwards the ship took a large wave over the bow and this did some damage on deck,
carrying away the port rail and smashing the deck-house door.

5.2.44 By 01:00 on 14 February, the master decided to run for shelter in Penarth Roads and the
ship was brought around to run before the wind. The second mate went aloft for twenty
minutes to look for Lundy Light but saw nothing. The pumps were tried, confirming that
there was no water below at this time. However, a rumbling noise was heard, which led
the crew to suspect that the cargo was moving. The second mate and a seaman were
sent below to inspect the cargo, returning after fifteen to twenty minutes to report that
although the cargo at the aft end was secure, he had seen sparks near the main hatch
(amidships) and had heard knocking, as though the rails were striking each other. He also
heard the sound of rushing water. He was then sent forward with the carpenter. They
found that the cargo there was “moving in a body as the ship rolled”. Some of the deck

36Agreement and Account of Crew: Foreign Going Ship, signed by the master 12 January 1889 and List C,
28 February 1889.
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stanchions were broken and most of the wooden tomming securing the cargo from above
had fallen. The carpenter ventured across the cargo as far as the main hatch and found
that the cargo was “altogether adrift, and the rails flying about”. Deck stanchions were
broken, and the casing of the pump was damaged. Although he could not see the new
cargo ports, he could hear water rushing in on the port side and concluded that the port on
that side had been damaged. He shouted to the second mate that the port had been
knocked out. At this point the second mate realised that there was seven or eight feet of
water (2.1-2.4m) in the hold below him.

5.2.45 Going back onto deck the mate called to the crew to prepare the boats because the ship
was sinking. He then reported to the master on the poop, telling him that the ship was
flooding through the damaged port side port. The master ordered the ship to be brought to
the wind on the starboard tack to raise the damaged port above water so it could be seen.
This confirmed that the port had been knocked out and that there was a gap of about six
inches at the forward end. After a desperate attempt to stop up the port with a bed blanket
failed, the master realised that the ship was in grave danger and ordered that the port
lifeboat be launched. The crew, which the BoT report seems to have assumed were
panicking and afraid for their lives, had already been doing this and the mast had been
removed to lighten it. After being told by them that they would cut the painter if he didn’t
board the boat, the captain scrambled in and the painter was cut. It was about 03:00,
about 10 miles WNW of Lundy.

5.2.46 As the boat drifted away, two men were observed to be still on the ship, on the poop. The
crew called to them to jump. William Heddles did so and was picked up. The other man,
the cook James Timbrell, described as “a coloured man, belonging to Jamaica” would not
jump, even though a lifebuoy was to hand. He was not seen again. Timbrell is reported to
have helped launch the boat and it is not known why he did not get in it.

5.2.47 The lifeboat was put before the wind, heading E. After ten to fifteen minutes the ship was
still in sight, although all that could be seen of it was the top-gallant and royal (uppermost)
yards. The ship clearly sailed on after being abandoned, foundering sometime afterwards.
Although damaged and shipping water, the lifeboat remained afloat and, after the wind
had moderated at about 10:00, the survivors were picked up by the schooner Spray of
Wexford. After having been transferred to the steam trawler Flying Scotsman, they were
landed at Swansea with their effects at 16:00.

5.2.48 Given that the hull does not appear to survive in situ above the ceiling planking, it seems
reasonable to assume that the location of the port and the port itself are not in situ.
Evidence of the damage that led to the loss is therefore unlikely to be present on site,
unless the port that failed survives amongst the detached wreckage that was observed on
the west side.

5.2.49 Whilst the post-loss history of the wreck is not known well enough to be certain, it does
appear that there are areas within the cargo stack where the rails are not arranged
regularly and where there is considerable disarray and of voids. These may be evidence
of the cargo movement that led to the loss and would merit further survey.

Survival
5.2.50 The sinking was not witnessed. The position of the rail stack suggests that the sinking
ship hit the bottom on an even keel, with its bow to the NE. The weight of the cargo will
have prevented any subsequent movement.

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5.2.51 No physical evidence of commercial salvage has been observed on site. Although the
cargo would have had considerable salvage value, it is assumed that no contemporary
salvage occurred because of the depth and uncertainties concerning the location of the
wreck.

5.2.52 As the cargo is currently upright, as loaded, and hull protrudes slightly from below it on the
NW side, it is a reasonable assumption that most of the bottom of the ship below the main
hold survives below the rail stack. What is not clear, however, is whether any of the
bottom of the ship forward or aft of the hold survives and is buried to the NE or SW. It is
not clear whether any of the ship’s cuprous cladding survives, although it is a reasonable
assumption that it does, where buried.

5.2.53 None of the ship above the turn of the bilge appears to survive. The debris to the NW on
the scour slope appears to include hull fragments. The most likely explanation for this is
that they are small sections of the side of the ship that have fallen away as the side
corroded and collapsed. The possibility that they are eroding parts of a larger section that
may have collapsed and become buried cannot be excluded at this point.

5.2.54 The anchor found to the NE suggests that the bow is at that end of the site. However, two
anchors are reported to have been found SW of the rail stack. 37 They were not located in
2019. Should they be relocated and confirmed as anchors, then the interpretation in this
report that the bow lies to the NE may need to be revisited, as anchors will have been
found at both ends of the rail stack.

5.2.55 There is scope for ship fittings and small finds to exist in some quantity in buried contexts
in the debris areas to the NE and SW. The orientation of the anchor to the NE suggests
that there may be considerable depth of deposit to contain this.

5.2.56 The wine glass (see below) is reported to have been found 50-100m SW of the rail stack.
However, the debris that it is reported to have been found cannot be seen in the
geophysical data. 38 Some uncertainty must therefore attach itself to the location of this
debris.

Investigation
5.2.57 The ship was abandoned and its sinking was not witnessed. There was therefore no
known loss position. There is no reference to a wreck in this location recorded by the
UKHO before 1992.

5.2.58 In the late 1980s, avocational divers from Ilfracombe and North Devon Sub-Aqua Club
(ILFSAC) dived on a snag reported by a local fisherman. They found railway rails and the
remains of a wooden ship. The site is reported to have been dived several times by club
divers, but it was not researched or identified. It was known at the time as the Stanley
Bank wreck, as it was located on the edge of the natural seabed feature of that name. In
1992 it was reported to the UKHO. 39 The UKHO has categorised it as a non-dangerous
wreck.

5.2.59 In 1999 the wreck was observed during a hydrographic survey for the UKHO. In the same
year, ILFSAC was contacted by Dunfermline-based composite sailing ship researcher

37 WA 2015
38 WA 2015: 10 and Plates 14-16
39 UKHO HH100/351/05

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Alan Platt. He had become aware of the discovery and because of the type of cargo
thought that the wreck might be that of the South Australian. Subsequently the adoption of
trimix gases by ILFSAC divers made investigation of the wreck a more practical
proposition, as it enabled longer bottom times. Subsequent diving allowed Mr Platt,
ILFSAC diver Keith Denby and diver Dan Stevenson to identify the Stanley Bank wreck as
the South Australian. The UKHO was advised by email that the wreck was thought to be
the South Australian in September 2004, although this was not confirmed until cuprous
bolts with similar spacings to that found on the City of Adelaide were discovered and
filmed in 2005.

5.2.60 In 2007 and 2008, MBES data was acquired by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency
under the Civil Hydrography Programme. This data has been obtained from the UKHO
and used during this assessment. In 2015 a geophysical survey was carried out by WA
and ILFSAC using SSS. This is the last known geophysical survey to take place.

5.2.61 Between 2005 and 2019, it is understood that the site has been occasionally dived by
ILFSAC. However, there has been no consistent further work to investigate or survey the
wreck, although Keith Denby retains a strong research interest in it. Alan Platt is no longer
actively involved, although Australia-based researcher Bob Sexton has an interest and
has provided copies of the Lloyd’s survey papers to WA.

5.2.62 Two small finds have been recovered by ILFSAC divers to assist with the investigation of
the wreck. Although not examined, these appear to be a sherd from a small octagonal
refined whiteware bowl or dish, typical of the 19th and 20th centuries (Plate 3a), and a wine
glass of similar date (Plate 3b).

5.3 Significance
5.3.1 Although the decision to assess the site derives from its association with the theme of
early iron and composite ships, its significance is far wider. The key elements derived
from BULSI are:

 it was built for and engaged in the 19th century South Australian passenger and wool
trades and is therefore of likely significance to the people of Australia;

 as a vessel built partly for the Australian passenger trade, it is directly associated
with the great wave of emigration from the UK and Europe in the 19th century;

 it was a clipper ship, no examples of which are currently designated;

 it was a composite ship, no examples of which are currently designated;

 it has always been closely associated with the City of Adelaide, a similar ship and a
high profile preserved historic vessel that is now in Australia;

 it was built by William Pile, one of the most important Sunderland shipbuilders;

 the cargo is from the Dowlais Iron Works, a key site in the Welsh Industrial
Revolution;

 the cargo is also associated with the rapid and revolutionary international expansion
of railways in the 19th century;

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 the site is evidence of the strong commercial and cultural connections between
Britain and Argentina in the 19th century and of the British role in developing that
country post-independence; and

 it is part of the rich maritime heritage landscape that exists in the Bristol Channel off
Lundy.

6 RISK ASSESSMENT

6.1.1 Using available information, the site has been risk assessed using Historic Wreck Sites at
Risk: A Risk Management Toolkit 40. The results are presented in Appendix 2.

6.1.2 Risk is assessed as medium, with no impact. The principal vulnerability is natural decline,
although small numbers of small finds have been recovered by avocational divers in the
last few years. The site appears to be stable.

7 ASSESSMENT AGAINST NON-STATUTORY CRITERIA FOR DESIGNATION

7.1 Assessment scale


7.1.1 For each criterion, one of the following grades has been selected. This has been done in
order to help assess the relative importance of the criteria as they apply to the site. The
‘scoring’ system is as follows:

 Uncertain – insufficient evidence to comment;

 Variable – the importance of the wreck may change, subject to the context in which
it is viewed;

 Not Valuable – this category does not give the site any special importance;

 Moderately Valuable – this category makes the site more important than the
average wreck site;

 Highly Valuable – this category gives the site a high degree of importance. A site
that is designated is likely to have at least two criteria graded as highly valuable;

 Extremely Valuable – this category makes the site exceptionally important. The site
could be designated on the grounds of this category alone.

7.2 Non-statutory criteria assessment


7.2.1 The site has been assessed using the scale presented above against the non-statutory
criteria required for designation under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973, using relevant
Historic England guidance. 41

Period
7.2.2 Moderately valuable. The ship was put forward for assessment on the basis that it fitted
the theme of ‘early iron and/or composite hulls’. It is an example of perhaps the most

40 Historic England 2017


41 Historic England 2017: 15-16.
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important type of composite vessel, the type of long-distance fast sailing cargo ship known
as a clipper. These are not currently represented in terms of designated wreck sites. The
South Australian is very much a ship of the Victorian British Empire. It typifies the type of
fast ‘clipper’ sailing ship that dominated the vital passenger and bulk trades with the Far
East and Australia in the third quarter of the 19th century. No longer engaged in these
trades at the time of its loss, it instead became typical of the vessels that served another
of Britain’s important long-distance trading routes – that with South America. The cargo it
was carrying, and which survives robustly on the seabed is evidence of Britain’s central
contribution to something that had a fundamental economic, geopolitical and cultural
impact upon the world – the 19th century expansion of the railways. The wreck undeniably
epitomises the importance of all these trades. Long distance cargo ships of the late 19th
century British Empire are also not currently represented in terms of designated wrecks.

Rarity
7.2.3 Highly valuable. Historic England guidance indicates that designation will only be for
exceptional sites that date to after 1700, and the wreck significantly post-dates 1700.
However, analysis of NRHE records suggests that ocean-going composite clipper wrecks
are rare in territorial waters, and this assessment has demonstrated other features of the
vessel, via the BULSI analysis, that make this wreck rare. It is therefore the opinion if WA
that the rarity value of this wreck is high.

Documentation
7.2.4 Moderately valuable. Although research for a full DBA has not been undertaken,
significant documentation for this site has been traced, including Lloyd’s survey papers
which provide important information concerning the construction of the ship, which is
potentially verifiable archaeologically. Whilst it is not particularly unusual for such
documentation to exist for a late 19th century ship, documentary evidence for all five
BULSI themes is extensive and includes photographs of the site, a Court of Inquiry report
into the loss and video and photographic evidence produced by previous investigations.

Group value
7.2.5 Highly Valuable. The site has a multi-themed group value, including both watercraft and
terrestrial monuments.

7.2.6 The site is part of a very small group of known 19th clipper and composite shipwrecks and
preserved vessels in UK territorial waters off England. These include the similar ‘sister’
composite clipper City of Adelaide and the iconic Cutty Sark. The NRHE records ten
clipper wrecks, the South Australian being the only clipper wreck off Lundy. The NRHE
has 57 records of composite vessels. However, due to the way in which the NRHE
indexes, this is likely to include vessels with wood and iron listed as construction
materials, as well as true composite vessels. The actual number of composite vessel
records recorded is likely to be small, with the South Australian being the only example off
Lundy.

7.2.7 The wreck is one of only two Devitt & Moore vessels recorded by the NRHE. The other is
the Simla, NRHE 1160862/804840, built for P&O as an iron steamship but later converted
into a four-masted barque. In 1884 it was involved in a collision and foundered south of
the Isle of Wight when bound for Sydney from London with a general cargo. Vessels built
by Pile’s are relatively common, there being sixteen NRHE records.

7.2.8 The site is part of a worldwide group of shipwreck sites and preserved vessels associated
with emigration to Australia and with the important 19th century wool trade between Britain

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and Australia. Preserved vessels include the City of Adelaide, now an important preserved
vessel in Australia. It is also very likely that there are significant terrestrial built structures
and sites associated with the trades. Only two wrecks associated with this important trade
are recorded by the NRHE. 42 In addition, there are seven NRHE records for wrecks
associated with Melbourne, another port associated with the South Australian:

 Gossamer, NRHE 1139632, a fully rigged tea clipper wrecked at Prawle Point in
South Devon in 1868, whilst en route for Adelaide from London with a general
cargo.

 Woodcote, NRHE 1250781, another fully rigged ship, wrecked between Folkestone
and Dungeness in 1860 whilst en route for Adelaide from London.

7.2.9 The cargo is associated with surviving built structures and remains that have significance
in terms of the Welsh Industrial Revolution and the growth of the iron and steel and
railway manufacturing industries in South Wales. Several sites associated with Dowlais
are recorded by RCAHMW’s Coflein database. They include: Dowlais Ironworks (NPRN
34084); the Blast Engine House (33697); offices (88063); and a tunnel and bridge
associated with the tramroad (34800 & 34801).

7.2.10 The site is part of a group of seventy-nine pre-First World War wreck sites recorded by the
NRHE that are associated with the great worldwide expansion of railway networks and
British railway manufacturing in the 19th and early 20th century. Given Lundy’s position
close to the Bristol Channel sailing routes from the ports of Cardiff and Newport, which
served the railway component manufacturers, it is not surprising that there is a
concentration of such wrecks off the island, as follows:

 Archelus, NRHE 878161, a wooden French or American sailing vessel that


foundered in Lundy Roads in 1849 whilst carrying a cargo of railway track from
Cardiff to New York. Most of the cargo is reported to have been salvaged in 1850.

 Eliza, NRHE 1096352, a wooden English brig that sank south of Lundy in 1852
whilst carrying ‘railway components’ from Newport to Hayle in Cornwall.

 Plymouth, NRHE 1096355, a wooden English schooner which foundered south of


Lundy in 1859 whilst carrying railway track from Newport to London.

 Brenda, NRHE 878344, a wooden Canadian schooner which wrecked on the Knoll
Pins at Lundy in 1871, whilst carrying railway track from Newport to New Orleans.

 Balvenie, NRHE 1240178, a steel British steamer lost as a result of a collision in


1917 whilst transporting railway locomotives and tenders from Glasgow to St
Nazaire. 43

7.2.11 There are thirty-one records for vessels associated with the carriage of passengers and
cargo to Argentina, including several of ships bound for Rosario. There is a small group
associated with Lundy, including the following. There is a good chance that the cargo they
are recorded as carrying was intended for railway use, Welsh ‘steam coal’ being in high
demand internationally for this purpose at the time:

42 NRHE 1254822 records the loss of the Embleton in 1899, but it did not sink in the incident described.
43 Cargo information courtesy of Keith Denby, email.
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 Heroine, NRHE 878506, a Welsh barque wrecked on Lundy in 1882 whilst carrying
a cargo of coal from Newport to Rosario.

 Zoodochos, NRHE 1096661, a wooden Greek brig which foundered off Lundy in
1883 whilst carrying a cargo of coal from Cardiff to Buenos Aires.

 Salado, NRHE 1033932, an English steamship wrecked at Lundy in 1897 whilst


carrying coal and brass rods to Buenos Aires from Newport.

Survival/condition
7.2.12 Moderately valuable. Available data suggests that none of the ship above the turn of the
bilge is likely to survive, except perhaps for part of the hold ‘tween deck, which could
potentially survive within the cargo. Some equipment formerly fixed to or stowed on the
decks has survived, including at least one anchor and a possible capstan. Furthermore,
fragments of the hull above the turn of the bilge are probably present amongst the debris
on the NW side. The exposed hull is in poor condition due to erosion and biological
action. However, there is every prospect that the hull survives below the cargo in good
condition, although its will only be accessible for study along the edges. To the NE and
SW there is potential for the bottom of the ship at bow and stern and debris from decks
above to be buried. Due to its robustness, the steel rail cargo survives largely in situ and
appears to preserve the arrangement in which it was laid in the failed attempt to stop it
shifting. The cargo it was carrying, and which survives robustly on the seabed is evidence
of Britain’s central contribution to something that had a fundamental economic,
geopolitical and cultural impact upon the world – the 19th century expansion of the
railways. Due to the high-quality steel that is likely to have been used, the rails appear to
be in reasonably good condition.

Potential
7.2.13 Moderately valuable. There is potential for significant buried remains and for comparison
of the surviving hull structure with the similar preserved vessel City of Adelaide.
Composite construction has not been frequently studied archaeologically and, although
there is only limited exposed above-bed structure, there is an opportunity to study the
construction of the ship. In addition to providing the opportunity to study the stowage
arrangements of a very well-preserved bulk cargo, the rails provide a dateable sample of
late 19th century steel railway track and fittings from one of the most significant and
famous Welsh iron foundries.

Fragility/vulnerability
7.2.14 Not valuable. Only a limited proportion of the ship survives. It may be assumed that there
is potential for wreck material to move down into the scour and for material to erode from
the slope. The visible hull will also continue to gradually decline. However, there is no
obvious evidence for any major short-term erosion problem. There is similarly no evidence
for a major impact from human activities. Commercial net fishing vessels are likely to
avoid the site due to the danger posed by the cargo to nets and the cargo will provide
robust impact to any impacts. Although there has been minor removal of artefacts, the site
is not frequently dived, and this does not appear to be a significant problem.

Diversity
7.2.15 Variable or moderately valuable. The sample of designated wreck sites includes few 19th
century merchant ships and does not include a clipper ship, an iconic ship type. It is
arguable that the presence of the near-intact rail cargo is a significant single attribute,
given the importance of the 19th century rail industry.
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7.3 Summary
7.3.1 Based on the above assessment, Wessex Archaeology is of the opinion that the site
probably meets the criteria for designation under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.
Although assessed under an early iron and composite vessel theme, it also has high
group value under other important 19th century themes and is a rare example of the wreck
of a 19th century ocean-going clipper. Its association with the preserved vessel City of
Adelaide, now the subject of a well-publicised preservation project in Australia, also
contributes to its importance.

7.3.2 Assessment work such as this continues to strengthen existing third sector involvement in
the discovery, study and management of marine heritage assets in the Bristol Channel. In
addition, designation of the site would help to strengthen public awareness of the marine
heritage importance of the seabed around Lundy. The local economy depends upon
tourism and marine heritage designations contribute to positive perceptions of an
attractive environment. Whilst the site is not likely to contribute substantially to diver
tourism, there is potential for it to contribute modestly.

8 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

8.1.1 The archaeological character of the site is summarised in Table 3, based on the Watson
and Gale scheme for evaluating wreck sites. 44 It is notable that much of the significance of
the site is not explained by this type of analysis.

Table 3 Summary of site character


Area and distribution of surviving Under most of the length of the rail stack (see below) on
ship structure the NW side, the broken and eroded edge of a ship hull
can be seen. This is most exposed at the N end, where a
complete profile can be seen. The hull consists of angle
iron frames, with wooden outer and thinner ceiling planks.
Although there is obscuring marine growth and concretion,
in places the bolts attaching the planks to the frames can
be seen. These have been examined by other investigators
and found to be cuprous.
Character of the ship structure The hull is clearly of composite construction, with iron
framing, wooden ceiling and outer planking and cuprous
bolts. Only the bottom of the ship survives.
Depth and character of stratigraphy The site is dominated by a very large, rectangular, vertical
sided stack of ferrous railway rails orientated SW-N and
approximately 26m long by 8m wide. The rails are
arranged in a pattern in layers, with some layers orientated
with the long axis of the stack and others orientated
diagonally across it. They all appear to be typical flat-
bottomed rails with pronounced head, web and foot. Many
have become displaced from their original positions in the
stack and there are numerous small voids suggestive of
movement. There is a large hole in the top of the stack for
the now absent main mast. Part of the probable pump
casing was found protruding from this hole.
At the SE and NW ends, debris extends more than 6m and
8m respectively, with isolated outliers up to 16m to the NE.
There is potential for the bottom of the bow and stern to be
buried here, the bow to the NE.
The wreck is clearly lying across the main flow of current.

44 Watson & Gale 1980: 183.


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As a result, a deep scour orientated E-W and more than


100m long has formed along the NW side of the rail stack.
There is a scatter of debris along this slope. This includes
small and very eroded fragments of ship hull and rails.
Volume and quality of artefactual The ring and stock of a large Admiralty-type ferrous anchor
evidence has been found at the NE end. The stock is missing, and
the crown and arms are buried. There is no evidence of
chain. The presence of this anchor suggests that the bow
of the vessel lies to the NE. Fish plate-like metal objects
were found to the NE of the stack.
At the SW end, the debris includes a cylindrical object
which appears to be either a capstan or winch drum. This
is likely to be the remains of a capstan situated between
the main and mizzen mast. Associated with this is wooden
debris, which may be the remains of displaced planking.
Apparent date of the ship’s Built 1867-8 by William Pile & Co. in Sunderland. Lost 14th
construction and/or loss February 1889.
Apparent function British clipper ship that was built for and served the
passenger and wool trades with South Australia and
particularly Adelaide in the third quarter of the 19th century.
Thereafter undertook a second career in more general
ocean-going bulk trade. Lost at the start of a voyage from
Cardiff to Argentina carrying railway rails.
Apparent origin British-registered merchant ship. Owned by Devitt & Moore
whilst engaged in the trade with Australia, thereafter under
Northern Irish ownership for a short period before loss.

8.1.1 The site is reasonably robust and no urgent management or remedial action is required.
However, the site is subject to natural decline and the exposed hull and scattered debris
would benefit from archaeological recording before they deteriorate further. It is
recommended that local divers should be encouraged to report any further artefact
recoveries to the NRHE as well as the RoW. Understanding of the site would benefit
greatly from further survey work and the following research questions are suggested as a
context for this work:

Build
 Has that part of the hull that survives been built in accordance with the section and
description in the Lloyd’s survey documentation?

 To what extent is the construction of the South Australian’s hull comparable to that
of the City of Adelaide and thus evidence of the design style of the shipbuilders?

 Does the surviving hull structure add to our knowledge of composite construction?

 What other evidence of the ship’s fixtures and fittings survive?

Use
 Does any archaeological evidence survive related to the ship’s role in the South
Australia wool and passenger trades?

Loss
 Who were the end users of the cargo?

 Are the rails stacked in the manner described in the BoT report and can the
disarrangement observed in 2019 be linked with the loss mechanism described in
that report?
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Survival
 Confirm the orientation of the vessel. Is the bow to the NE?

 How much of the wreck lies buried to the NE and SW of the cargo stack? What is
the depth of stratigraphy?

 How much debris lies in the scour to the NW and where on the ship does it come
from?

Investigation
 Have any other artefacts been removed from the site by divers that have not been
traced during this assessment?

9 ARCHIVE

9.1.1 The project archive consists of a hard copy file and computer records and is currently
stored at Wessex Archaeology under project code 214390. The project archive will be
transferred to the NRHE.

9.1.2 Shapefiles generated for the project comply with Marine Environment Data and
Information Network (MEDIN) standards for metadata. 45

REFERENCES

Bibliography
Campbell, G.F., 1974, China Tea Clippers, Adlard Coles Limited.

Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, various dates, Regulations, Standards and Guidelines;
downloaded from https://www.archaeologists.net/codes/cifa, April 2019.

Dow, A., 2014, The Railway: British Track Since 1804, Pen & Sword Transport.

Historic England, 2017, Historic Wreck Sites at Risk: A Risk Management Toolkit. Downloaded
from https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/historic-wreck-sites-at-risk-
toolkit/, September 2019.

Historic England, 2017, Ships and Boats: Prehistory to Present. Downloaded from
https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/dsg-ships-boats/, September
2019.

Historic England, 2019, Early Iron & Composite Vessels (1840-1889), Brief for Archaeological
Services in Relation to Marine Protection.

Lubbock, B., 1948, The Colonial Clippers, Brown, Son & Ferguson Ltd.

MacGregor, D.R., 1979, Clipper Ships, Argus Books Ltd.

MacGregor, D.R., 1988, Fast Sailing Ships: their Design and Construction 1775-1875, Conway
Maritime Press Ltd.

45 Seeley et al. 2019


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Seeley, B., Rapaport, J., Merritt, O., Charlesworth, M. and Gaffney, S., 2019, Guidance notes for
the production of discovery metadata for the Marine Environmental Data and Information
Network (MEDIN). Version: 3.0. Downloaded from
https://www.medin.org.uk/medin/sites/medin/files/documents/MEDIN_Schema_Document
ation3_0_full.pdf.

Stones, H.R., 1993, British Railways in Argentina 1860-1948, P.E. Waters & Associates.

Thompson, J., date unknown, The past and present history of the north sands shipyards and their
surroundings from 1823 to 1891, William Duncan, printer, Sunderland.

Ville, S., ‘The Transition to Iron and Steel Construction’ in Greenhill, B. (ed.), 1993, Sail’s Last
Century: The Merchant Sailing Ship 1830-1930, Conway Maritime Press Ltd., 52-73.

Villiers, A., 1962, Men, ships and the sea, National Geographic Society.

Watson, K. and Gale, A., 1990, ‘Site Evaluation for Marine Sites and Monuments Records: the
Yarmouth Roads Wreck investigations’, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology
19.3: 183-192.

Wessex Archaeology, 2006, On the Importance of Shipwrecks, Final Report. Unpublished report,
ref. 58591.02.

Wessex Archaeology, 2015, South Australian Geophysical Mapping Project: Survey Report and
Site Plan, client report, ref. 108630.01.

Online sources (Ship photographs)


State Library of Queensland (photographer unknown) - https://hdl.handle.net/10462/deriv/126351

National Library of Australia (1868 lithograph by Thomas G. Dutton) - http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-


136075600/view?searchTerm=South+Australian+ship#search/South%20Australian%20sh
ip

State Library of South Australia (photographer unknown) -


https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+10527 and
https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/PRG+1373/19/11

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APPENDICES

Appendix 1: ROV dive log


Dive Date Start Duration Max. ROV Notes
time in minutes depth
(m)
1 22/07/2019 BlueROV2 Test dive (operations weathered off).
(heavy)
2 23/07/2019 09:39 21 48 BlueROV2 GVI inspection of NW side of wreck.
(heavy)
3 23/07/2019 15:43 5 BlueROV2 Aborted due to loss of slack.
(heavy)
4 23/07/2019 16:01 73 43 BlueROV2 Second slack. GVI inspection of all four sides
(heavy) of the wreck mound and across the top. ROV
recovered to surface mid-dive due to
temporary comms loss. Battery changed;
issue resolved.

5 24/07/2019 10:02 64 48 BlueROV2 Single slack worked. Search of debris off NE


(heavy) end of rail stack with Keith Denby. Also,
inspection of hole in centre of stack visible in
MBES and of debris to the W in scour. ROV
recovered mid-dive for battery change.

6 Void record
7 25/07/2019 11:26 32 48 BlueROV2 GVI inspection of SW end and W side of
(heavy) stack. CVI of hull structure. Located part of
winch or capstan. ROV recovered when
slack lost.

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Appendix 2: Site Risk Assessment

Wreck/Site Name South Australian

NRHE / UKHO No. HE Region Restricted Area Principal Land Use


1033938 & 1070003 / None known
South West Coastland 1
UKHO 12349
Latitude (WGS84)
Longitude (WGS84)
Class Listing Period Status
Full rigged ship 46 Victorian D
Licensee Nominated Archaeologist Principal Ownership Category
n/a n/a Other (unknown)
Seabed Owner Navigational Administrative Responsibility
(Believed to be) A Nil
Environmental Designations
None known
Seabed Sediment Energy
S Medium 47
Survival
Unknown
Overall Condition Condition Trend Principal Vulnerability
E B NAT
Amenity Value: visibility
A
Amenity Value: physical accessibility Amenity Value: intellectual accessibility
A C

Management Action A

Management Prescription N

Notes:

46The Historic England Maritime Craft Thesaurus incorrectly defines a ‘clipper’ as having a schooner rig.
47Historic England does not define high, medium and low and therefore a fully objective assessment is not
possible.
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The South Australian wreck is characterised by the large cargo stack of railway rails. Although this will be
gradually declining due to corrosion, it is physically robust and unlikely to be very significantly damaged by
commercial fishing or other human activities. No fishing gear was observed on the site. The limited ship
structure visible on the NE side is declining due to erosion, corrosion and biological attack. A large section
of the ship’s bottom is buried beneath the cargo mound and is well protected and inaccessible. There is
scope for shallow-buried archaeological remains, including vulnerable material to the SW and NE of the
cargo stack. There is also debris to the NW on the scour slope that is vulnerable and naturally declining.
The site is occasionally dived and any small finds found on the seabed are likely to be recovered.

Risk is assessed as: Medium, but with no impact


Data Source WA Date & Initials October 2019; GS

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Appendix 3: DIVA Archaeological and Environmental Observation Points (DIVA Obs.)

DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

Large ferrous stocked anchor of Admiralty pattern.


10:06:0 Rectangular section. Only head of shank and ring
5 10064 Anchor
6 AM exposed. No sign of stock, although traces of possible
nut observed on uppermost face.

10:07:3
5 10065 Anchor As 10064. Shank orientated approx. NE-SW.
2 AM

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

As 10064. Anchor, ring and approx. 0.5m of shank


10:08:4
5 10066 Anchor visible. Ferrous. Photograph shows small, unidentified
0 AM
circular concretion to the N.

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

Edge of stack; disordered, with rails spilling out to NE


10:10:2 Edge of
5 10067 (second photograph shows section of intact transverse
0 AM stack
stacking). Slight scour in places.

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

10:16:4 Rails and Rails, wooden planking, knee? As observed previous


5 10068
1 AM planking day.

10:20:0
5 10069 Anchor Anchor. As 10064.
7 AM

10:20:3
5 10070 Rails Rails
5 AM

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

10:22:0 Small Unidentified, small bars/slats. Disordered. Corroded


5 10071
7 AM bars/slats fishplates?

10:23:4 Concretion,
5 10072 Unidentified concretion.
8 AM metal

10:24:0 Timber,
5 10073 Buried timber, possibly hull.
8 AM fragment

10:51:0
5 10079 Rails
2 AM

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

10:52:0
5 10080 Rail stack
0 AM

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

Void in stack of rails. Visible in MBES and SSS.


10:53:3 Gap in
5 10081 Photograph shows edge of hole in foreground, looking
7 AM stack
down.

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

Metal pipe with node (?) below broken upper end. Not
10:53:5
5 10082 Pipe in situ but leaning against side of hole in stack. Possible
8 AM
pump pipe?

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

10:56:0 Edge of
5 10083 Edge of rail stack.
9 AM stack

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

10:57:1
5 10084 Rail stack Rail stack.
0 AM

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

10:57:2 Section of
5 10085 Rails and wooden structure to NW of rail stack.
9 AM debris

10:58:4
5 10086 Hull? Debris, hull?
3 AM

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

10:59:2
5 10087 Debris
5 AM

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

Detached
10:59:4 More debris, inc. probable hull section which has
5 10088 hull
4 AM detached and fallen down slope.
section?

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:00:4 Section of
5 10089 Part of hull structure?
5 AM hull?

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:02:0 Curved
5 10090 Curvilinear feature. Not quite right shape for a knee.
9 AM timber

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:04:3 Hull
5 10091 Hull debris
5 AM fragments

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:27:0
7 10095 Debris Rail and barrel-like object.
2 AM

11:28:0 Debris inc.


7 10096 As 10095
8 AM rails

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:29:1 Unidentifie
7 10097
0 AM d debris

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

Possible chain under flat bottomed rail. Possible


11:30:3 Rail and
7 10098 standing rigging and largely buried non-ferrous (lead?)
2 AM debris
object.

11:30:5 Approx. E-W alignment. Adjacent to 10097 (see


7 10099 Rail
8 AM photograph above).

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

End of rail
11:33:0 Flat bottomed rails. Photograph taken looking approx.
7 10100 stack with
8 AM NNE.
debris

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:33:4 Disordered Flat bottomed rails and other debris. Approximately E-


7 10101
0 AM rails W and N-S orientations.

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:34:2
7 10102 Winch
1 AM

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:35:2
7 10103 Winch As 10102. Part of winch at base of stack.
7 AM

As 10103 -
11:36:2
7 10104 possible
9 AM
capstan

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:37:2 Plank-like
7 10105 Close to and possibly under winch/capstan.
1 AM wood

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:38:1
7 10106 Rail stack Photograph shows SW corner.
4 AM

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:38:5 Side of rail Flat bottomed rails orientated approx. SW-NE and NW-
7 10107
6 AM stack SE. At least 3 opposed layers. Partially disordered.

11:40:2
7 10108 Slope Shallow slope down to W of stack.
3 AM

11:40:5 Side of rail


7 10109 Following side of stack.
1 AM stack

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

Disordered
11:43:4 Some rails falling out to the NW. Photograph shows
7 10110 edge of
1 AM side of stack (on right) looking N.
stack

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

Hull
11:44:4
7 10111 structure
1 AM
under rails

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:46:3 Hull
7 10112 Following base of stack and hull structure.
0 AM structure

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:47:3 Hull Continuous line of hull structure at base of and under


7 10113
3 AM structure stack.

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:49:2 Hull Ceiling planking with bolts, over iron frames. Composite
7 10114
6 AM structure construction.

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:51:0 Debris outside of line of hull on steep slope down to


7 10115 Debris
6 AM NW.

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:51:5
7 10116 Rails Rails that have fallen off the stack and down slope.
3 AM

11:53:2 Hull
7 10117 Frames and ceiling planking.
8 AM structure

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:54:1 Hull Iron frames, ceiling planking with bolts and outer plank
7 10118
8 AM structure edge. Composite construction.

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DIVA
Dive Obs. Feature Description Image
No.

11:57:3
7 10119 Debris
2 AM

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382000

384000

386000

388000

390000
A D

South Australian
!
(

5676000
Somerset
Lundy

Devon

South Australian
!
(
Cornwall

B
5674000

South Australian

5672000

0 250 m
1:10,000

5670000

0 2.5 km
0 50 m
1:2000 5668000

Charts from MarineFIND.co.uk. © Crown Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Licence No. EK001-0582-MF0050. Date: 12/11/2019 Revision Number: 0
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
Coordinate system: Scale: Main figure 1:40,000 @ A3 Illustrator: KJF
WGS84 UTM z30N
!
( Wreck Location Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2019.

This material is for client report only © Wessex Archaeology. No unauthorised reproduction. Path: W:\Projects\214390\GIS\FigsMXD\South Australian\2019_11_12

Site location (insets show location in relation to Stanley Bank and scour caused by site) Figure 1
A. Plan view B. Looking WNW

-15

-20

-25

C. Looking NNE -30 D. Looking SW


-35

-40

-45

Contains public sector information, licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
Date: 13/11/2019 Revision Number: 0

This material is for client report only © Wessex Archaeology. No unauthorised reproduction. Scale: NTS at A4 Illustrator: KJF

Path: W:\Projects\214390\Graphics_Office\Rep figs\South_Australian\2019_11_12

MBES images of the site Figure 2


A. Shadows white

B. Shadows dark

This material is for client report only © Wessex Archaeology. No unauthorised reproduction.

Date: 12/11/2019 Revision Number: 0

Scale: NTS @ A4 Illustrator: KJF

Path: W:\Projects\214390\Graphics_Office\Rep figs\South_Australian\2019_11_12

SSS image of the cargo and central area of the site Figure 3
10073 10072
!
( !
(

10071
!
(

10068
!
(

10119 10118
10086
10070
!
( !
(
!
(
!
(
10064
!
(
10067 10065
10069 !
!
(
10116
(
10087 10085 ( 10066
!
( !
( !
( 10117 !
( 10084 !
( !
(
!
10088 10083
!
( !
(
10115 !
10114
(
10091 10113 !
10090 10089
( !(
!
( ( 10112
!
10111
!
( !
(

10079
!
(
10110
!
( 10080 !
(
10081 !
(
!
(
10082
10109 !
(
!
(
10106 10108
!
(
( 10107
10105
!
!
( !
( !
( Diver observations
10097 10104
10103 ROV track buffered for
10099 !
(!
10098 !
!
(!
(!
!
(
( 10102
( 10101
(!( ! visibility

( 10100
10096 ! Areas of outlying wreckage
( 10095
! (geophysical survey
interpretation)

0 10 m
10094
!
(

Date: 12/11/2019 Revision Number: 0


Coordinate system: Scale: 1:300 at A4 Illustrator: KJF
WGS84 UTM z30N Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
This material is for client report only © Wessex Archaeology. No unauthorised reproduction. Path: W:\Projects\214390\GIS\FigsMXD\South Australian\2019_11_12

DIVA observations and survey coverage Figure 4


80 mm

140 mm

120 mm

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Date: 13/11/2019 Revision Number: 0

Scale: NTS @ A4 Illustrator: KJF

Path: W:\Projects\214390\Graphics_Office\Rep figs\South_Australian\2019_11_12

Section sketch of typical rail (drawn by Keith Denby) Figure 5


Date: 13/11/2019 Revision Number: 0
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Scale: N/A @ A3 Illustrator: KJF

Path: W:\Projects\214390\Graphics_Office\Rep figs\South_Australian\2019_11_12

Lloyd’s survey report 26 March 1868: scantlings Figure 6


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Date: 13/11/2019 Revision Number: 0

Scale: NTS @ A4 Illustrator: KJF

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Lloyd’s survey report 26 March 1868: mid-ship section as built Figure 7


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Date: 13/11/2019 Revision Number: 0

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Plan of the passenger accommodation Figure 8


Plate 1: Photograph of the South Australian in an unidentified port
(State Library of South Australia: PRG-1373-4-16)

Plate 2: Image of the South Australian at sea


(State Library of South Australia: B-10527)

This material is for client report only © Wessex Archaeology. No unauthorised reproduction.

Date: 13/11/2019 Revision Number: 0

Scale: Not to scale Illustrator: KJF

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Plates 1 & 2
Plate 3a: Ceramic recovered from the site

Plate 3b: Ceramic recovered from the site

Plate 3c: Glass recovered from the site


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Date: 13/11/2019 Revision Number: 0

Scale: Not to scale Illustrator: KJF

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Ceramic and glass recovered from the site Plate 3


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