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The 149 year Illustrated Log of the Edwin Fox

Picture credit not known
Picture Credit not known


Registered Tonnage 836 tons
Length overall: 157 feet or 44.14 metres
Registered Length: 144 feet 8 inches
Beam:     29 feet 8 inches or 9.08 metres   
Draft: 21 feet 6 inches or 6.6 metres
Poop:     54 feet
Forecastle:     22 feet
Build:     Carvel-two decks
Registered number:     4673
Registered signal letters:   J.D.M.N.
Port of Registry: Southampton

1853     Built as a standard Moulemein Trader by William Henry Foster at Sulkeah, Calcutta on the River Hooghly, nearly a hundred miles from the sea in the state of West Bengal.  This somewhat antiquated design was based on the frigates built at Blackwall on the Thames at London.  The vessel was commissioned by Thomas Reeves of the United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East Indies, but was sold on the stocks to Sir George Edmund Hodgkinson, of Cornhill, London. He took possession of her on the 6th of December, 1853.

Known as The Honourable East India Company until 1708, it was a chartered company of London merchants which gradually transformed trading privileges in Asia into a territorial empire from 1599.  Its commercial monopoly was broken in 1813, and from 1834 it was merely a managing agency for the British government of India.  It was deprived of this after the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and ceased to exist as a legal entity in 1873. The Edwin Fox was never any part of the Hon. East India Company nor was she ever chartered by the Company.

No passage-maker, the design was safe, comfortable, dry and thoroughly reliable.  As a typical East Indiaman, she was constructed of Burmese Teak, which was a far stronger wood than English Oak, and more resistant to the sea-worms which ate through the bottoms of many ships.  Some Saul was used in the frames and she was sheathed in Copper.  The wood of the Saul tree (Shorea robusta) is of a light Brown color, close-grained, heavy, and durable, it is not as difficult to work as Teak, but both sink in fresh water.


Built in the year of the opening of India's first railway, she was one of the last of the East Indiamen to be constructed and first sailed as a fully rigged ship. Only one other East India Company vessel is known to have survived; she is the Jhelum, built at Liverpool in 1849 and now at Port Stanley in the Falkland Island, (The Jhelum by Michael Stammers and John Kearon, 1992. ISBN0-7509-0230-2).

Before completion she was sold to Sir George Hodgkinson, a merchant of Cornhill in the city of London, who named her after a well known Quaker from Southampton, said to be a relation of Charles James Fox, the renowned politician, however this connection has never been substantiated

1853 December to May 1854     In the command of Captain William Taylor Salmon, aged 32 years of Rochford, Essex.

1853     December 14     Sailed from Calcutta to London via Cape Town on her maiden voyage with a crew of about sixty.  There were ten passengers aboard, most of whom were one family going to Capetown.  She also carried a cargo consisting of bags of Rice, Rape seed, Linseed, Safflower, horn tips, Castor oil, cow hides, jute, and various other miscellaneous items.

1854     February 13     Arrived at Cape Town (above).  While attempting to get underway during a storm, the ship collided with the 831 ton British vessel Devonshire.  As a consequence, she lost a jib-boom, the foremast came down and damage was sustained to the Port topside area.  After repairs, she sailed on the 7thof March for London.

1854     May 10     Arrived at London (below), where she was surveyed in the Grand Surrey Canal dry dock at Rotherhithe and classed as A1 by Lloyds. She was subsequently sold for £ 3,000 and Captain John Duncan appointed Master, but he never made any voyages.

1854     May to June     The ship was considerably strengthened by the use of various wrought iron knees and other metal straps.

1854     June     Chartered to the British Government as Transport Number 109 and used for the next sixteen months to carry troops to the Crimea on the Black Sea for the siege of Sebastopol in the Anglo-Russian War of 1854 - 56.  She is one of the two surviving Crimean troop transports, the other being the now restored steam ship Great Britain (launched in July 1843).

1854     July to September 1862     Commanded by Captain Joseph Ferguson, aged 28 years of Arbroath, Scotland.  Ferguson received his Master's Certificate at the age of 23 and was her longest serving Captain.

1854     July 15     Sailed for Calais, with a crew of 38, to take embark 5 officers and 481 men of the French 51st Infantry Regiment.

1854     July 19     Sailed for Bomarsund on Aland Island, in company with many other ships.  The Finnish island of Aland lies midway between Finland and Sweden.  This action was an effort by the Allies to divert Russian troops to the North and thus keep them out of the Crimean area.  The full scale attack on Bomarsund fortress in August 1854 involved 10,000 French troops and 10,000 British.

1854     September 4     Commenced the return voyage to London via Calais to disembark 458 troops.

1854     November 14     The Edwin Fox was loading at London for Malta when a severe storm struck Balaclava harbour, Sebastapol (below) destroying most of the British troop ships.

1854     November 17     Departed London for Portsmouth to load for the Crimean War zone in the Black Sea.  For the duration of hostilities the Edwin Fox was utilised for personnel transport and to move stores and ammunition between Malta, Constantinople and the Crimean War area.

1854     December 6     Departed Portsmouth.

1854     December 28     Arrived at Malta , where she was then utilised until 12 October 1855 to operate between Malta and the various areas of the Crimean War zone.

1855     September 9     Departed Malta with 149 invalided soldiers from 51 different regiments, one woman, one civil servant and one deserter.

1855     October 3     Passengers disembarked at Spithead and then she departed for London.

1855     October 12 to 14 February     Refitted to carry civilian passengers and general cargo.

1856     Feb 14     Departed London for Port Philip, Melbourne.

1856     May 28     Arrived at Melbourne (below) with six passengers and general cargo after a voyage of 104 days.  (There is no further information available with regard to this voyage as "the Master lost the Official Log Book during the voyage").

1856     July 20     Sailed in ballast for the island of Guam.  Clearing a ship for Guam was a subterfuge of the times amongst shipowners who wished to keep their trading intentions to themselves, and also did not want to be bothered with carrying the Mails.

1856     September 7     Arrived at Shanghai.  There was no cargo available and she was laid up at anchor until the middle of October.

1856     October 14     Sailed for Amoy, one of the original treaty ports ceded to the British in 1842 after the first Opium War.

1856     October 22     Arrived at Amoy (now Xiamen) China , but there were no cargoes available.

1856     October 24     Sailed for Hong Kong (below), arriving one day later on the 25th.  There were still no cargoes available, but the ship's windlass was damaged and repairs could not be made locally.

1856     23 November     Departed Hong Kong for Singapore in ballast.

1856     December 1     Arrived Singapore.

1856     December 14     Departed Singapore after repairs to load Rice in Burma and return with the cargo to Singapore.  Dates of arrival in Burma and return to Singapore are not currently available, nor is it certain how many trips were made.

1857     February 7     At Rangoon on the Irrawady River (below), where a change of crew took place.

1857     April 11     Arrived Hong Kong from Singapore, with one passenger, but no cargo.

1857     May 13     Sailed in ballast for Bangkok to purchase a cargo of Rice for Hong Kong.  The Master carried on this trip "5 boxes of clean Mexican dollars each containing $4,000.00" to pay for the cargo.  Also included were 15,000 Mat Bags to hold the Rice.

1857     August 2     Sailed from Bangkok with a cargo of Rice for Hong Kong.  The Master did not pay for the Rice with the money he carried, but contracted to carry a conventional cargo instead.

1857     August 17     Arrived Hong Kong.  At this time the ship was chartered by a local agent to carry Coolies from Swatow (now Shantou), China to Cuba.  The forced migration of nearly 200,000 Chinese coolies to Cuba during the nineteenth century is a sorry tale and the role of Coolie Trafficker was not one of her most honourable.  In this year 28 vessels carried 10,116 Coolies to Cuba, 8,547 arrived and 1,509 died during the voyage.

There was much activity at this time getting the ship ready for some 300 people, particularly with regard to fresh water.  Many barrels had to be loaded in Hong Kong before departure for Swatow.  Regulations required that 3.6 metres of space and 4.5 litres of water per head be available for each passenger, for 100 days.

1857     September 15     Sailed for Swatow.  The voyage was delayed by a Typhoon, but the ship eventually arrived a few weeks later.  Preparations at Swatow were slow and the passengers did not board until late October.

1857     November 1     Sailed for Hong Kong, to complete documentation and top-up with fresh water.

1857     November 10     Departed for Cuba with 288 passengers aboard.  Reportedly the Coolies had been selected for their ability to work in the sugar cane industry.  The movement of "emigrants" such as these started because of the international agreements against the slave trade, however, it is well known that many of these legal passengers were indeed treated as slaves once they reached their destination.  Later the governments of Britain, China and India took action to limit such emigrations to volunteers instead of press-ganged Chinese.  Edwin Fox proceeded through Gaspar and Sunda Straits and thence across the Indian Ocean.

1858     January 14     Arrived at Capetown, 65 days out of Hong Kong.

1858     January 20     Departed after replenishing at Table Bay.

1858     March 19     Arrived at Havana.

1858     May 8     Sailed for England with a cargo of sugar.

1858     June 24     Arrived at London after a two year absence from her home port.   She was then dry-docked, cleaned and painted, and her copper sheathing repaired.  Her tonnage was amended to 836, and she was surveyed for her next deployment, a convict charter to Australia.

1858     August 11     Departed Gravesend (below) for Plymouth.

1858     August 26     Under charter to the British government, she departed Plymouth, with Joseph Ferguson in command for the Swan River Colony in Western Australia.  She carried the twenty first of thirty seven shipments of male convicts destined for Western Australia and the voyage took eighty six days.

She carried 280 convicts, a crew of 42 and a "Pensioner Guard" of 38 (including their families), plus a Surgeon-Superintendent and a Religious Instructor.  Pensioner Guards were a special group of military pensioners drawn from British infantry and cavalry regiments and included many Crimean War veterans.  They worked for free passage and intended to become servants and/or settlers on arrival.  One clause in the crew's Agreement required the they "are to inflict corporal punishment on the convicts whenever required to do so by the Master of Surgeon".  The convicts came from half the counties of Britain as well as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and some were court-martialed military men.  Some were Fenians transported for their political views, others had been sentenced for fraud of one sort or another and for larceny.

Painting by Anthony Shennan showing the interior of a typical convict ship

Peter Duff, a labourer who left Britain with "three books, a belt and a toothbrush" after being transported for life for robbery, was "put in leg irons" on the first day of the voyage, "for insolence to the surgeon in complaining in an impatient and improper manner of the quality of the soup and the insufficiency of the rations".

Henry Jobson, a labourer and soldier from Dorset, was just 18 when he was sentenced to 14 years' transportation for mutiny.  He was so disobedient that he was flogged.  "Somewhat refractory and indisposed to go below to school when so directed and severly admonished accordingly," records the log.

Joseph Simpson, a 40-year old pit worker, was transported for life for "carnally knowing a girl under 10 years", while a 23-year-old donkey herd called Hans Jansenn got 10 years' transportation for stealing three empty sacks.

The youngest of the criminals, and possibly the most harshly treated, was fourteen year old William Messenger, serving 14 years' transportation for "sacrilege" having been caught urinating over gravestones.

It was the intent of the Government to rehabilitate most of the prisoners and turn them into useful citizens at the termination of their sentences.  Three infants were born enroute to parents in the Pensioner Guard. There were no deaths.

There are no images of the vessel at this time, but the following three historic photographs were taken aboard a remarkably similar ship.  The Success was a contemporary East Indiaman of the same basic design, built of Burmese Teak in India, an Australian prison hulk and carried emigrants to New Zealand.  She succumbed to fire in 1946.


1858     November 20     Arrived at Fremantle with eighty two passengers and two hundred and eighty convicts.  Sixty eight of the passengers were pensioner guards and their families, the number being made up of thirty pensioner guards, sixteen wives, ten sons and twelve daughters.  The other fourteen passengers have not been accounted for but were possibly cabin passengers or regular soldiers.

1858     December 24     The ship remained at Fremantle for three weeks, where her convict facilities were removed.  She then loaded ballast before sailing for Hong Kong on Christmas Eve, with two passengers, one in cabin class and one in steerage.

1859     February 1     Arrived at Hong Kong, but yet again, there was no cargo.

1859     March 5     Sailed in ballast for Singapore.

1859     March 17     Arrived at Singapore, where she awaited a cargo.

1859     May 10     Departed for London.

1859     September 4     Arrived at London after a passage of 116 days.  It is unclear as to how much cargo she carried.  After discharging at London she was to lie idle for five and a half months.

1860     Sold to Duncan Dunbar and Sons of Limehouse, London, Joseph Ferguson was retained as Master.

Father and son, both named Duncan Dunbar had shipping interests based in London.  Some of their ships were built in Newcastle, England, others at their own yards on the Hooghly river at Howrah and in Burma at Moulemein (Mawlamyaing).  All were sailing ships; at one time they owned a total of 75.  Duncan junior died in1862 and sometime later the business went out of the family.

Among the vessels owned by Duncan Dunbar was the Cospatrick, which was sold to Messrs.  Shaw, Savill and Company.  In 1875 the emigrant-ship Cospatrick was destroyed by fire on a voyage to New Zealand with a loss of over 450 lives.

He was also the owner of the Cressy, which was the last of the first four emigrant ships to arrive at Lyttelton on the 27th of December 1850.

1860     February 14     The ship sailed for Bombay.  Included in the cargo was a substantial quantity of "Taylor Walker's India Pale Ale".  It was to be the first of several voyages in which she carried alcoholic beverages to India and earned the name the "Booze Barge".  British pale ales for the Indian Empire were made to a higher than normal strength, and given more hops, to protect them on the journey.  The Barley Mow Brewery of Taylor, Walker & Co Ltd.  in Church Road, Limehouse was close to the offices of Duncan Dunbar and Sons, also of Limehouse.  It is not unlikely that John Taylor and Isaac Walker were friends of the Dunbar family.

During this voyage a sailor fell over the side, at Latitude 28° 00" South and Longitude 15° 54" West, and was drowned.

1860     June 3     Arrived at Bombay.

1860     September     Obtained a cargo for Hong Kong, including 3,195 bales of Cotton and 666 cases of general merchandise including gum olibanum, which is still used in the preparation of Incense, Chewing gum, Perfumes and tooth paste.

1860     September 23 - 25     At Singapore to take on water 1860     October 17     Arrived at Hong Kong.

1860     November 23     There being no cargo, and several other ships ahead of her, the ship sailed for Manila in ballast in search of cargo.

1860     November 28     Arrived at Manila 28 where she secured a cargo of sugar for London.

1860     December 22     Sailed for London.

1861     March 4     Called at St.  Helena for three days, evidently to stock up on fresh produce and water.

1861     April 9     A passenger; Richard Atlee, a Master Mariner, died of Dysentery at Latitude 26° 58" North and Longitude 33° 22" West.  He was buried at sea.

1861     May 10     Arrived at London.

1861     July 11     Chartered by the government Transport Service; she sailed for Queenstown, Ireland, with military stores and general cargo to embark 140 troops for transport to Bombay.

1861     July 21     Sailed from Queenstown.

1861     November 12 Arrived at Bombay.

1861     Dec 23     Sailed in ballast for Colombo 1862     January 1     Arrived at Colombo New Years Day, where she loaded 800 tons of coffee, 100 tons of coconut oil, 30 tons of Plumbago (graphite), 20 tons of Coir yarn and 100 bales of Cinnamon.

1862     Feb 11     Departed Colombo for London.

1862     March 6     The owner of Edwin Fox, Duncan Dunbar died and his shares passed into the hands of the executors, Messrs. W. S. Brown and Edward Gellatly.  The ship was subsequently put up for sale after her return to London.  She was bought by Edward Gellatly, also a beneficiary of the Dunbar estate, for £7600.  Gellatly later formed the partnership of Gellatly, Hankey and Sewell and Company of 109 Leadenhall Street, London, but the ship's shares were not included in the partnership until 1866.

The firm was still in existence in 1931 and the Edwin Fox was remembered quite well by one of their principals, who recollects her nickname the "Tea-tub," probably due to connection with the tea trade coupled with the fact that she was "tubby" in shape, as against the slimness of her contemporaries.  Unfortunately, the records of the early history of Messrs. Gellatly, Hankey's boats were burnt in a fire which occurred at their Sail Loft in Limehouse.

1862     May 29     Arrived at London after a reasonably uneventful voyage.  Captain Ferguson, who had been in command since the ship's early years was replaced by Captain Francis Freemantle McLean of Fraserburgh, who was then 50 years old.

1862     September 15     Sailed from London for Bombay.  There is no record of her cargo, but she probably carried her normal load of "London General" and "India Pale Ale".

1863     January 29     Arrived at Bombay.

1863     April 15     Sailed for London, having loaded at the ports of Calicut and Cochin.  There is no record of the 1863 cargo, but Calicut in the South Indian state of Kerala on the southwest coast of the Arabian Sea was the origin of Calico linen.  It is also an old port for the spice trade, especially Ginger, Cardamom and Pepper, coming from the nearby hills.

1863     August 28     Arrived at London.

1863     October 19     Sailed for Bombay with her regular cargo of London General and India Pale Ale.

1864     February 8     Arrived at Bombay, where she lay idle for three months.

1864     May 7     Sailed for Calcutta with coastal cargo.

1864     May 26     Arrived at Calcutta.

1864     July 11     Sailed in ballast for Hong Kong to seek a cargo.

1864     July 17     The First Mate died of Dysentery and was buried at sea.

1864     August 10     Arrived at Hong Kong.  Unable to secure cargo the ship lay idle for two months.

1864     October 12     Sailed in ballast for Singapore, where a full load of general cargo was obtained.

1864     December 28     Sailed for London via Capetown.

1865     March 15     Arrived at Capetown where she took on wool, and skins.

1865     April 7     Called at Jamestown Harbour on the island of St. Helena (below).

1865     June 8     Arrived at Gravesend (below).

1865     August     During her time at London a new Master took command.  Captain McLean was replaced by Alexander J.  Molison, who was then 29 years old, but he was to die two years later.

1865     August 10     Chartered again by the Transport Service, she sailed from Portsmouth after taking on units of the Royal Horse Artillery, 26th Cameronians, 33rd, 45th, 103rd, 106th and 113th Regiments of Foot, all from the Aldershot Barracks.  There were 195 men, 20 women and 22 children.

1865     December 9     Arrived at Bombay after a voyage of 121 days, during which 12 soldiers and 3 infant children died.  Two births were recorded.

1866     February 3     Departed Bombay, with 143 military personnel, many of them invalids and 14 women and 31 children.

1866     April 6     Called at St.  Helena.

1866     May 30     Arrived at Spithead.  During the voyage 15 invalids and 1 child died, plus 1 saloon passenger who died just 14 days out.

1866     August 6     Sailed from Gravesend for Bombay.  Under engagement with the Council of India (an Office of Profit under the Crown) the ship loaded 20 men of the 4th King's Own Royals, 22 from the 96th Regiment of Foot, 6 of the Royal Fusiliers, 40 of the 109th Bombay Infantry plus 7 officers in the cabins.  Since cholera had broken out in London in July, they were doubtless glad to go.  The voyage was not without difficulties.  A seaman fell over the side from the mizzen yardarm and was lost, and the ship ran aground in the Maldives and sustained damage to her rudder.

1866     December 21     Arrived at Bombay.

1867 February 23     Captain Alexander J.  Molison of Brechin, Scotland aged 32 died while living ashore, as was the custom, at Bombay from Typhoid Fever.  Captain Alexander Stachan Molison, aged 65 years, probably a distant relative, assumed command.  He was one of the ship's owners.

1867     Changed over to a barque rig at Bombay (Mumbai) and remained as such until her demise as a sailing ship.

1867     May 4     Departed Bombay with general cargo and 4 officers and 59 invalid soldiers, 12 convicted men, 11 women, 33 children and 2 "lunatics".  Six soldiers died enroute.  As the ship's doctor later wrote, the cold southern waters seemed to carry more mortality potential than the heat of the tropics.

1867     August 30     Arrived at London.

1867     October to November 1871     Commanded by Captain William Black, aged 54 years of Yorkshire.  Qualified in Steam vessels, his wife travelled with him aboard the ship.

1867     November 14     Departed Plymouth (below) for Bombay with military personnel aboard.

1867     December 7     Called at Sao Vicente in the Cape Verde Islands.

1867     April 4     Arrived at Bombay after a voyage of almost 5 months.  About 4 days out from Bombay the Third Mate started a fire while trying to refill a globe signal lamp.  He was seriously burned and was hospitalised when the ship reached port.

1868     June 8     Sailed from Bombay for London.

1868     August 17 to 20     Called at St.  Helena.

1868 October 8     Arrived at Le Havre.  No cargo manifest is available, but Le Havre was a port which received cotton from India, plus coffee and oil seeds.  Most of the crew were paid off here.

1868 October 19     23 French sailors were hired to take the ship to London.

1868 October 29     Arrived at London, where the crew was paid off again.  It was during this turn around period that the original planking from the gunwhales down was given a coat of felt covered with "Archangel" tar and sheathed in the diagonally laid planking that can still be seen today.

1869     March 18     Sailed for Trincomalee (Ceylon), Madras and Masulipatam.  (There is no known explanation for the long interval between voyages).  The cargo was the usual London General and India Pale Ale.

1869     July 13     Arrived at Trincomalee.

1869     July 25     Arrived at Madras where she unloaded most of her cargo.

1869     August 8     Departed for Masulipatam.

1869     August 12     The ship ran aground on the Coromandel Coast at 2 a.m.  With assistance unavailable, the Master ordered 107 tons (446 hogsheads) of India Pale Ale jettisoned.  The ship then drew herself out of the mud and reached port the next day.  There followed a period of port hopping to such places as Coringa, Cocanada and Bimlipatam to pick up cargo, back to Madras, and then a final call at Pondicherry where she completed loading.  Most of the cargo consisted of oil seeds and coffee.

1869     December 19     Departed Pondicherry for London.

1870     April 16     Arrived at London after making a provedoring call at St.  Helena.

1870     May 21     Departed for a 102 day voyage to Madras.

1870     September 30     Arrived at Calcutta looking for a cargo.

1871     January 6     Sailed for Mauritius with a full cargo of Rice.

1871     February 5 Arrived at Mauritius.  After off-loading, the ship was fitted out for the transport of time-expired Coolies returning to Madras and Calcutta.

1871     March 11     Sailed for Madras and Calcutta with an unknown number of Coolies, and a small amount of general cargo.  During this voyage a coolie was discovered burning camphor as an offertory to his God.  Since this amounted to a most significant fire hazard, he was reprimanded, placed in irons and confined in the hospital.  He was released the next morning.

1871     April 12-13     A one day call was made in the Madras Roads.

1871     April 20     Arrived at Calcutta.

1871     May 6     Sailed for Dunkirk with a full load of rape seed.  Two days out the ship started shipping a serious amount of water through the upper part of the stem.

1871     June 3     Put in to Penang for repairs.

1871     June 7     Departed Penang.  In the very heavy weather encountered, she started to take on water again.

1871     July 11     Arrived at Port Louis, Mauritius.

1871     August 2     Departed after extensive repairs and selling off some of her water damaged cargo.

1871     September 14-15     Called at St.  Helena.

1871     November 13     Collided with a 175 ton Dutch schooner in the English Channel and sank her.  Five crew members were saved together with three children, but the children's father and mother were drowned.

1871     November 27     Captain Black relinquished his command to John Ellis Johnson, aged 26 of Bebington, Cheshire.  He later married one of the passengers; Margaret Deane.  She was to give birth to one of their eight children on board the ship in the Indian Ocean on the 22nd of June 1874; a daughter named Susan.  She was also gave birth on board another ship to a son while the ship was in the Straits of Malacca.

1871     December 24     Returned to London by a crew of "runners".

871     December 27     Sailed for Liverpool, but her orders were changed enroute when she was off Falmouth and she proceeded to Cardiff instead.

1872     January 12     Arrived at Cardiff and loaded 1,000 tons of "patent fuel" consigned to Madras (small coal waste and dust mixed with a binder and made into briquettes).

1872     February 13     Departed London.

1872     June 22     Arrived at Madras.

1872     August 27     Sailed for London 1872     December 17     Arrived at Gravesend, where she was laid up and offered for sale.  She was now 20 years old and had become relatively obsolete as a consequence of the development of iron steam ships.

1873     Along with the Cospatrick, she was sold by Gellatly, Hankey and Sewell and Company to the 15 year old partnership of Walter Savill and Robert Shaw, who had been chartering ships for the passenger service to New Zealand since 1858, she was one of the oldest ships that they acquired.  The vessel did not become part of the new fleet when the company amalgamated with the Albion Line in 1882 and Savill retained her until June, 1885.  In his history of the line, David Savill refers to her as being almost a museum piece at the time of her purchase and nothing but trouble.

The new career came about through a charter to carry emigrants to New Zealand under the Vogel scheme for assisted migration.  Under this scheme the colony could secure the type of settler most needed, ie.  migrants who could and would build on the land and farm it.  The number of settlers taking advantage of the offer grew from a few hundred in 1871 to almost nine thousand by the time Edwin Fox made her first voyage, and then to almost four times that a few years later.  It is for this twelve year period in her career that she is probably best remembered in New Zealand.  That is not to say that she had an auspicious start.

However, having been designed for the Indian trade, her passenger quarters were particularly well ventilated and she was to become popular with saloon, second class and steerage passengers alike.

Prior to her first voyage in the emigrant service she was painted out in the Shaw Savill livery with a dark Green hull and light Brown masts and deck-houses.  The figure head, ship's boats and deck fittings were painted White and the name and gingerbread carved scrolls on the bow and stern were picked out in Gold.

The Edwin Fox is one of only two surviving sailing ships in the New Zealand emigrant service, the other is Shaw Savill's 1,197 ton Euterpe of 1863. After 28 years service, she was sold in 1899 to become the Star of India.  The vessel is now the fully restored show piece of the San Diego Maritime Museum.

Typical lower deck plan of steerage accomodation on a New Zealand emigrant vessel of the period.

The principal ports of embarkation for Shaw Savill passengers were London, Gravesend, Portsmouth and Plymouth, where the last mails were often picked up. At some ports there were special emigration barracks; elsewhere marquees were put up, if necessary. The traveller usually had quite a journey across country by train or coach-and-four before reaching the ship. It could be a nightmare counting each piece of baggage and child at every transfer. It was compounded for the emigrants if they did not join the ship at some point on the Thames and she was delayed by contrary winds in the Channel. They were then faced with a rather unpleasant stay in the barracks, which could be a shocking and unnerving experience for those used to privacy and consideration in their former homes.

Most passengers joined the ship in London Docks, especially if they wanted to see their loads and luggage safely hoisted on board and stowed, or wanted to fit up their basic cabin accommodation with their own furniture and bedding or were marshalled to do so.

On arrival at the East India Docks at London (above), the traveller was faced with a scene of pandemonium and filth. There was a forest of masts and bowsprits of ships berthed bow-to on the quay, providing an elegant and lofty arch for the human traffic passing up and down on the quayside below. There were shouts of 'Mind your backs' as porters trundled their barrows of baggage and cargo through the milling crowds of passengers, dock-workers and crews. Fretful children tripped and fell on the uneven cobbles, and horses stood patiently while their carts were unloaded. Everywhere there was a smell of horses and tarred rope, and small steam-engines. Baedeker's guide-book may well have been correct in its comment that, 'Nothing will convey to the stranger a better idea of the vast activity and stupendous wealth of London than a visit to the docks.'

1873     January 24     Sailed from London.  She had on board 95 passengers destined for Canterbury and 95 destined for Otago.  The weather was miserable and the ship had difficulty even getting out of the English Channel.  (Six days previously the Northfleet, a ship similar to Edwin Fox and previously in the same ownership, with a load of emigrants destined for Tasmania, had while anchored off Dungeness, been rammed by a Spanish steamer.  60 were saved, 290 were lost).

1873     February 2     Heavy seas effected serious damage to the ship, including the rudder.  There were many injuries and a few were killed.  The crew managed to get at some cases of spirits, and were nearly all drunk, so the passengers had to turn to, man the pumps, and do what they could to save the ship.

"She suffered a crew too drunk to man the pumps in a gale and had to hoist aloft ladies' Red petticoats to indicate her distress at sea.  Emigrants usually had more than the usual discomforts' to put up with on board her, yet, on her arriving in Wellington it was once reported that there was not a cleaner or more comfortable ship entering New Zealand waters, her 'tween decks in the pink of order and cleanliness and in a manner to indicate the superior character of her passengers.  Perhaps the reporter had broached the cargo of spirits."

1873     February 3     In the morning another ship, the American vessel Copernicus, managed with great difficulty and with what must have been outstanding seamanship, to take the Edwin Fox in tow and brought her into the French harbour of Brest.  The local British Consul, along with other interested personnel, managed to arrange for repairs at the French Naval Shipyard so as to expedite her repairs ahead of many other ships that had been driven into the harbour by the storm, instead of forcing 'her to return to Britain.  The passengers were moved ashore and repair work began.  23 passengers declined to continue the voyage and were returned to Southhampton.

1873     March 5     The ship got underway once again after a delay of about a month.  The balance of the voyage was relatively uneventful, except for the deaths on board of four passengers, from fever and consumption. However there was further disatisfaction amongst the passengers and the sentence "I do complain of the wet" appears in the emigrant log.

1873     June 27     Arrived at Lyttelton, 114 days out from Brest, with 140 passengers.  Captain Johnston, who was in command, reported that on the voyage there had been six deaths; Dr.  Langley, an Able-seaman, who was killed when the Bay of Biscay was being crossed, three adults from fever, and one infant.  When the ship arrived at Lyttelton she was placed in quarantine for two days, as four of the deaths reported were from fever.

Of the 95 assisted emigrants bound for the Canterbury Association's settlement on the largest of the fair isles of Oceania, eighty-five made it to the promised land.  Most of the adults were in their early twenties and half had come from Ireland.  They were simple and uncomplicated peasants from rural communities with most of the males listed as agricultural labourers and the females as domestic servants.  Five generations later, their descendants are still simple and uncomplicated folks inhabiting the least sophisticated frontier of Western culture.

1873     August 29     Sailed for Newcastle in ballast with a few cabin passengers.

1873     September 25     After encountering strong headwinds and rough seas the ship arrived at Newcastle.

1873     October 29     Departed Newcastle with 972 tons of coal for Galle, Ceylon.

1874     January 14     Arrived at the port of Negapatam, near Madras from Ceylon.

1874     February 12     The ship was evidently engaged in coastal trade at this point, possibly carrying labourers between the ports along the Indian coast and Ceylon.

1874     April 30     Arrived at Cocanada (Kakinada) a seaport on the Bay of Bengal and on the Godavari River delta, where she commenced loading for London.  No information with regard to cargo is available, but it was probably Rice or Sugar.

1874     May 12     Sailed for London on what proved to be an uneventful trip.

1874     June 22     While the ship was in the Indian Ocean, the Captain's wife gave birth to a daughter.

1874     August 23     Called at St.  Helena.

1874     October 20     Arrived at London, where the vessel was then charted for a second trip to New Zealand, this time to Wellington.  Prior to embarking passengers the ship under went more modifications to enhance her accommodation, this included the installation of a condenser for the distilling of sea water.

1874     November to December 1874     In the command of Captain Walter Walpole, aged 34 of Great Yarmouth.

1874     November 24     Sailed for Wellington with 261 emigrants embarked and with a new Master, Captain Walter Walpole.  Her English Channel weather luck remained bad, however, and she was back in the Downs on the 5th of December seeking shelter.  After another try on the 10th she was again blown back to the Downs and this time managed to foul a collier schooner whilst anchoring.  Unfortunately she anchored in the wrong place and was aground at low tide.  From there it was back to London to be off-loaded and re-surveyed.  The Captain relived of his command and replaced at this point by a Captain John S.  Davies, who would remain her Master until November 1876.

John Davies was reputedly something of a daredevil who tried to set a speed record with an iron ship; the Dallam Tower with several hundred emigrants aboard in July 1873, but dismasted her instead.  At the subsequent enquiry various passengers testified that he was drunk and incompetent.  His subsequent performance during his time in command of the Edwin Fox appears to have be commendable.

1874     December 18     William Manning actually joined the emigrant party late.  His diary starts on December 18th 1874, by which time the Edwin Fox had already sailed once and was back in dry dock for inspection after grounding on the Goodwin Sands off Kent.  Manning's first impression of the ship was positive, declaring that he, "liked her appearance very well".  His family took their place among the complement of 218 emigrants, replacing another family who had been struck down by illness and whose child had died.  They were allocated two bunks, each measuring 6'2" long by 3'4" wide, composed of rough boards nailed together and furnished with rough sheets and blankets "of a colour not likely to show the dirt." 1874     December 22     Re-embarked her passengers and in moving downstream managed to collide "heavily" with another collier which was sunk drowning one of her crew.

1874     December 25     The third departure was on Christmas Day.  Despite a deputation to Captain Walpole, the passengers were unsuccessful in a bid to have plum pudding for dinner and had to settle for boiled beef and soup, "the worst Christmas dinner I ever saw or wish to see again", as William Manning described it.  Having negotiated fog in the Thames estuary on Boxing Day, the Edwin Fox made it to deeper water by the 27th and was under sail off Plymouth by the 28th.  Two children died that day.

As the small ship made its way out into the Atlantic Ocean, the waves and wind began to take their toll and sea-sickness was widespread.  This could hardly have been a pleasant experience on a ship packed tightly with 259 passengers who had no recourse to modern remedies.  Arrowroot mixed with water was the best solution that the ship's doctor could prescribe and the period of rough weather lasted for over two weeks, until mid-January.

It wasn't just the sea that was turbulent.  The "fiery spirit" of an Irish girl was raised in a disagreement with the matron of the single women's quarters, who received a scratched face and black eye in the process.  The girl was put into solitary confinement until she promised better behaviour, which she apparently did quite quickly.  This was just the first of a series of similar incidents, with two Scotsmen fighting over furniture, several Irishmen fighting over petty squabbles and two women agreeing to settle their differences with an organised boxing match.

1875     February 8     By February, having picked up the trade winds, the emigrant ship made good progress, passing Madeira and crossing the line on the 8th.  The weather was "awfully hot", according to Manning and in such heat it must have been very difficult to cope with the two pints a day of fresh water that each passenger was allocated for washing and drinking.  Variety in diet also seems to have been a problem and this prompted some of the passengers to catch a shark using a 4 pound piece of salt-pork as bait.  This apparently proved a welcome change at dinner-time from the salt-pork itself; Manning himself refused to eat it but his wife and children "pronounced it first class."

1875     March 27     As the Edwin Fox approached the Cape of Good Hope in mid-March, they were again plunged into rough seas and bitter cold and had to cope with the danger of icebergs, several collisions taking place.  A man who had slipped and broken his leg some weeks earlier died and was buried in the icy waters.  The following day, the 27th March, Elizabeth Wilcock gave birth to George and Elizabeth's third child, who they called Edwina Fox Wilcock - after the ship.  Manning described the conditions at the time as "wind blowing hard and sea rolling heavily, making it, with the cold weather, anything but pleasant." Not the ideal conditions for childbirth.

The harsh discipline aboard a Victorian emigrant ship was vividly demonstrated in early April when a man was tried, complete with prosecuting and defending counsels attired in wig and gown, for the crime of stealing a messmate's rations.  A guilty verdict was returned and the sentence passed that the man be plastered with a mixture of oatmeal and treacle.  Anyone offering relief with a donation from their own water ration was promised the same treatment.

1875     April 14     Land was finally sighted on the 14th and as they approached Wellington harbour, the ship was replenished with fresh provisions.  This gave the passengers their first taste of New Zealand produce - a feast of rump steak and fresh potatoes.  It wasn't a case of immediate relief from the cramped conditions aboard ship however, as all the passengers were held in a cramped quarantine station for a week before being put up in the relatively spacious immigration barracks.

William Manning summed up his voyage aboard the Edwin Fox as, "one-hundred and twenty-two days of misery, anxiety, discomfort and semi-starvation" and that he hoped that he would, "never again fall to the lot of an unfortunate emigrant in a slow but sure emigrant ship."

1875     April 18     Arrived at Wellington with 259 emmigrants.  There were 6 deaths; 2 adults and 4 children and six babies were born on the voyage.

1875     May 15     Departed Wellington for Newcastle in New South Wales with a cargo of railroad plant and bricks.

1875     May 31     Arrived at Newcastle.

1875     August 8     Sailed for Saigon with 881 tons of coal.

1875     October 19     Arrived at Saigon.

1875     November 20     Departed Saigon for Surabaya.

1875     December 14     Arrived at Surabaya.

1876     Jan 12     Departed Surabaya for Calcutta.

1876     March 15     Arrived at Calcutta.

1876     May 9     Sailed for Hull with a cargo of 12,673 bags of linseed oil.

1876     August 2     Called at St.  Helena.

1876     September 25 Arrived at Hull after 140 days out of Calcutta.

1876     November 11     Sailed for Newcastle-on-Tyne in ballast.  Captain John Phease of Montrose, Scotland relieved Captain Davies as Master at the end of the voyage.  A Timaru newspaper reported: "Captain Phease is one of the old class of skippers and is as grand a specimen of British sailor as is to be found on ether side of the Line."

1876     December 15     Sailed for Galle, Ceylon, but fierce gales forced her to take refuge at Portsmouth.

1877     In the command of Captain J. S. Dawes until 1878.

1877     January 10     Sailed again from Portsmouth.

1877     June 3     Arrived at Galle.  Three days later sailed for Batavia.

1877     July 25 to August 7     At Batavia where she lay at anchor while awaiting a cargo.

1877     August 26     Arrived at Surabaya.

1877     October 11     Departed Surabaya and sailed Eastward destined for Falmouth in Cornwall.

1878     March 20     Arrived Falmouth.

1878     March 28     Sailed for Liverpool.

1878     April 2     The crew was paid off upon her arrival at Liverpool (below).

1878     June 21 Arrived at London with a "runner crew." She was then made ready for another emigrant voyage to New Zealand.

1878     In the command of Captain John Phease until 1882.

1878     July 31     Departed London for Plymouth to receive her passengers.

1878     August 8     Departed Plymouth with 244 passengers destined for the Nelson, Marlborough and Westland provinces of New Zealand.   A large party of Irish emigrants were on the Passenger list.

1878     November 17     Arrived at Port Nelson from Plymouth.  Five children died on the voyage, and there were two births. Her keenly awaited cargo included Summer drapery, clothing, hardware, 250 cases of Stout, 150 cases of Ale, 10 cases of Red Herrings and 20 cases of Canary seed.

1879     January 13     A gale in Tasman Bay caused her to lose the anchor and she drifted for a mile before a second anchor took hold.

1879     January 15     Sailed in ballast for Port Pirie, South Australia.

1879     February 5     Arrived at Port Pirie, but there was no cargo available, probably because she was to early for export of the Wheat Harvest (below).

1879     April 5     Sailed for Timaru, New Zealand.

1879     April 25     Arrived at Timaru (below), where she loaded 9,013 bags of Wheat for Queenstown, Ireland.

1879     June 13     Sailed for Queenstown.

1879     October 2     Arrived at Queenstown, 111 days out of Timaru.

1879     October 15     Arrived at London.

1880     January 7     Departed London.


1880     May 3     Arrived at Lyttelton (below) from London with 109 passengers.  In the first six weeks of the voyage three children died of scarlet fever.  She brought out 20 saloon, 12 second-class, and 77 steerage passengers.  For the most part fine weather was experienced, light winds prevailing.  Small but functional cabins meant that passengers would spend as much time as possible on deck reading, napping, playing games or just stretching their legs. Inside, the main saloon was communal and multi-purpose, serving as a restaurant, lounge, writing room and even a concert hall. There were many complaints over the sleeping accommodation.  Some of the quarters were almost in darkness, and some berths wet from water finding its way down the side of the ship.  The passengers also complained of the scantiness and quality of the food.  This was the case with a large number of the ships bringing immigrants in the early days.  Some of the passengers were booked for Auckland, and went on by steamer.

1880     June 11     Sailed from Lyttleton for London with a cargo of 1,100 tons of wheat and oats.

1880     October 30     Arrived at London, 140 days out of Lyttelton.

1880     31 December     Departed London with cargo, but no passengers for the port of Bluff, New Zealand under the command of John Phease.

1881     May 19     Arrived at the port of Bluff after a 139 day voyage from London.

1881     July 28     Sailed in ballast for San Francisco.

1881     September 24     Arrived at San Francisco (below), 59 days out of Bluff.

1881     October 9     Sailed from San Francisco for Bordeaux with a full cargo of wheat.

1882     March 4     Arrived at Bordeaux.

1882     April to November 1885     In the command of Captain William Colville also of Montrose, Scotland.

1882     April 9     Sailed in ballast for Newport, Wales.  The hoped for cargo of coal was not available.

1882     June 15     Sailed for Oslo, Norway.

1882     July 1     Arrived at Oslo to load a cargo of Pine flooring boards.

1882     July 31     Departed Oslo for Sydney.

1882     November 30     Arrived at Sydney.

1883     February 12     Departed for Newcastle for a cargo of coal consigned to Dunedin.

1883     February 23     Sailed for Dunedin.

1883     March 12     Departed Dunedin for Bluff.

1883     June 22     Departed for Falmouth.

1883     October 15     Arrived at Falmouth, 115 days out of Bluff.

1883     November 4     Arrived at London at the end of her last voyage as a cargo vessel. Walter Savill then sold her to the Shaw Savill and Albion Line for £1,600.

1883     October to June 1885     A refrigeration plant was erected at London and then dismantled after a trial and stored in her hold.  Since there was not adequate freezing capacity in New Zealand to store meat before it was shipped out of the country, a few ships such as the Edwin Fox were converted to freeze holds to serve as temporary storage until sea going refrigerated ships took the cargo aboard.

1885     June to October 1885     In the command of Captain W. Patterson, formerly First Mate of the ship, she sailed from London on the 25 th of June for Dunedin via the Cape of Good Hope.

1885     October 19     After eleven years of emigrant service, she arrived at Port Chalmers, Dunedin at the end of her last voyage, with a cargo of 500 tons of coal and salt plus various items of freezing equipment which were to be assembled aboard her.  She was to act as a freezing plant and storage ship for up to 14,000 sheep carcases while a freezing plant was built ashore. Her new role was to be a response to the demand for cold storage in New Zealand following the first successful shipment of frozen meat aboard the Dunedin in 1882.

Mr.  H.  Weatherilt came out with his wife and three children as the only passengers, he was later to be appointed as the engineer-in-chief for the Union Steamship Co. and fitted up all the machinery in the ship and had the entire management for five years, until she went to Napier.  Subsequently Mr.  Weatherilt was appointed senior superintendent of machinery and surveyor of ships for the New Zealand Government.  He had this position for many years, and retired in June, 1912.

Mr. Gibb, formerly of the Nelson and Canterbury, assisted in transforming the Edwin Fox into a store ship.  The decks were cleared, the masts reduced and Bell and Coleman dry air refrigeration machinery was installed.  Massive boilers to provide steam for the refrigeration machinery were erected on deck.  These were salvaged from the Lyttelton (sank on 12th June 1886 at Timaru) and from the Northumberland (sank on 11th May 1887 after running ashore on Bay View Beach, Napier in a severe storm).  The Edwin Fox took on a most peculiar appearance, looking neither like a steamship nor a sailing ship. However the original lines of the hull remained the same.

1889     January 14     Arrived under tow at Lyttelton from Port Chalmers.

1890     Towed to Gisborne.

1892     early February     Hired by the Southland Frozen Meat and Produce Export Company Ltd. for £800 a year.  The vessel was towed from Wellington to the port of Bluff by the steamer Ohau. Moored at the old wharf, she was used to freeze and store up to 14,000 carcasses.

1897     January 12     Arrived at Picton in the Queen Charlotte Sound after a four day tow by the Union Steamship Company's Kawatiri from Port Chalmers. It was a fair voyage until the vessel reached Cape Campbell, where for the whole night they lost headway due to the strong winds and current. Reaching Cook Strait the Edwin Fox continued to Pencarrow and then over to Queen Charlotte Sound and so to Picton. She has been there ever since.

Sheep were slaughtered at Spring Creek near Blenheim and taken by train to Picton for freezing aboard the vessel for the Wairau Company. She was berthed at the old main wharf, near to the present Post Office. When larger Shaw Savill and Albion ships loaded their cargoes, the Edwin Fox was winched out on her kedge anchor into deeper water where loading took place.

1897     December 10    The Edwin Fox hoisted her colours for the last time when she was dressed to welcome aboard the bride of James Scott, the Engineer in Charge. Other happy events were the birth aboard of the couple's first son who was appropriately christened Edwin Fox Scott, and later a daughter, Gladys Hay Scott.


Edwin Fox in the role of a frozen cargo lighter at Picton.

The Government Steamer Tutanekai and the Edwin Fox at the Picton wharf in October 1899.

When the Picton Meat Works was first mooted, it was intended to use the freezing plant from the hulk, but on examination it was found to be practically useless without extensive repairs. The engines were removed by means of a crane hired from the Railways, then placed on a punt and taken away. Due to their weight and size, the boilers presented a real engineering problem. However, Mr Scott resolved this by dropping the four 13 ton boilers twelve feet over the side where they floated to the slipway and were hoisted up the steep hill to the Works. This caused quite a stir among the local residents, most of whom had gathered on the hills to watch the spectacle.

The remaining machinery and gear was stripped from the Edwin Fox. She was then securely moored with two anchors out in the stream (below left) and later shifted across the bay and utilised as a landing site, barracks and later a coal hulk for the adjacent packing plant (below right).


1900     Sold to the Christchurch Meat Company.

"When the Edwin Fox arrived at Port Chalmers in 1885 Mr.  Gibb was sent aboard to dismantle the superfluous gear and assist in getting her ready for the ensuing season's freezing.  After being used at Port Chalmers for a few years the Fox was sent up to Lyttelton, then to Gisborne, and later to the Bluff, and then finally she was sent to Picton under engagement to freeze for the Wairau Company.  After two seasons the Christchurch Meat Company, now the New Zealand Refrigerating Co., bought the Edwin Fox and Mr.  Gibb went with her.  A season later the company built works ashore, and the old vessel was stripped and hauled up in shallow water and is used as a coal hulk for the works."


1900     May 19     President Kruger of South Africa was hung in effigy from the jib boom of the vessel during the celebrations of the relief of Mafeking in the Boer War.  The locals had mistakenly believed that it was the end of the hostilities.  At 2 p.m. a diver went down to recover the effigy, which had been subsequently cast overboard as part of the ritual.

1903     Ceased to be used as accommodation for meat workers.


Above: in use as a landing stage, her masts were removed at this time.

1905     Large holes had been cut in her sides to allow her use as a coal hulk and everything of value removed.

1920     circa     Below; being used by the New Zealand Refrigerating Company as a coal hulk at Picton.

1923     "Lying in shallow water near the freezing works in Picton Harbour there is an old hulk that is picturesque even in her decrepitude, and, like a broken-down aristocrat, she bears about her unmistakable signs of having seen better days.  Her elliptical stern, which once boasted square windows, a style that sufficiently suggests her age, still has the remains of the elaborate scroll-work with which the builders used to adorn the old wooden ships, and the name "Edwin Fox, Southampton," is still legible."

"Dismantled and stripped of everything, the old barque has defied the band of time, and is likely to do so for many years to come, for she is built of good solid teak, and now, seventy years after she left the launching ways in Calcutta, which was her birth-place, her timber is as sound as a bell.  She has been in her present position for 24 years, and is now used as a storage hulk for coal and other materials of a non-edible nature for the New Zealand Refrigerating Co.  She lies alongside the land, and a railway line has been run through the width, and an opening made on the seaward side at the rail-head.  This allows small coastal vessels to come alongside and load or discharge cargo through the opening.  Large coastal vessels of the coaling type come alongside and discharge their cargoes on the top deck by means of a winch hoist."

1931     October    A two page, illustrated article, entitled Sailing Vessel Edwin Fox by Mr. J. E. Cooper of Essex, appeared in the Sea Breezes - The P.S.N.C. Magazine. The line-block drawing above appeared in the item.

Note: The first issue of the magazine was published in December 1919.  Although it was the house magazine of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, it rapidly expanded to cover matters mainly pertaining to commercial sail.  The title changed to Sea Breezes - The Ship Lovers' Magazine in either 1937 or 1938. At the same time as the price went up from 3d to 6d per copy.  It continues to be the most popular maritime history journal.

1930s     The two photographs below were taken in the 1930s. The image to the left appears to be the earlier and is a photo postcard taken by the Nelson photographer J. W. Jones.


1950     Ceased to be used as a coal hulk at Picton.

1950s     In the late 1950's, the Edwin Fox was modified with her poop and top gallant forecastle being removed.

1964     The New Zealand Historic Places Trust local committee made representations to the Marlborough County Council regarding the ship's restoration.  The Council agreed that the proposition was acceptable, but that more detailed plans should be submitted regarding the nature of the work to be undertaken and its whereabouts.

1965     May 12     The Edwin Fox Restoration Society registered as an incorporated body.

1965     June     The committee suggested that the hulk be moored alongside the breastwork by the foreshore bathing sheds at Picton, but any decision was to be held over until major plan proposals for the whole foreshore complex were drawn up.

A public meeting did not favour the siting of the ship on the Picton foreshore.  It was considered that some other area should be set aside for its restoration, but the Council granted permission for the siting on the foreshore providing certain conditions were met:

(1) That the work of restoration be completed within five years.
(2) That insurance be taken out including public liability and Worker's Compensation.
(3) That the committee enter a bond to remove the vessel and equipment if work not completed in five years.
(4) No work on Sundays, Anzac Day, Christmas Day or Good Friday.

Unfortunately, with a Council election in the offing, the whole matter became of political significance and several new councilors were elected on the "Anti-Edwin Fox" ticket.  After the election the first move by these councilors was to reject the foreshore site.  Approval was given to remove the vessel to a temporary site between the Western approach of the marina bridge and the access way from the foreshore to Waikawa Road but no work was to be undertaken.

1965     September 24     Sold by the New Zealand Refrigerating Company to the restoration society for one shilling.

1965     October 21     The approval to re-site the vessel was revoked by the Council and standing orders were suspended in doing so.  The Marlborough Express newspaper thought that the battle commenced on an appropriate day, as it was the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

The Edwin Fox committee sought a compromise from Council, which by this time had become bogged down in legal procedure.  In the end the representatives of the committee walked out of the meeting and the hulk was towed to Shakespeare Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound, beached and then put up for sale to any interested buyer.  She lay there for twenty three years, during which time she was seriously vandalised for her Teak.

1967     October 19-20     The ship was pumped out, and with the use of gelignite it was dislodged from its muddy berth, and was found to be in such good condition below the water line that she was moored at the Waitohi Wharf overnight before being towed, on the 21st of October, to her resting place in Shakespeare Bay. There it has remained for just over 20 years.

1976     A group from Auckland took over the functions of the Society with the intention of making the ship seaworthy enough to be towed to Auckland for restoration there. The necessary $75,000 to $80,000 could not be raised for this work and once again restoration lapsed.

1981     November     Ownership of the vessel was vested in the present day Edwin Fox' Society Inc. of Picton.

1983     April     Under the heading of "... and a Sad Failure" a columnist in Britain's Ships Monthly magazine reports that the hulk of the vessel is finally to be broken up.

1985     November 23     After a slow start and a number of frustrations, full maritime planning procedures had been fulfilled. Confirmation that the Society had been granted a site on the Northern side of the launching ramp basin near the ferry terminal was received.

1986     mid-October     All necessary statutory approvals had been obtained. No time was lost now that the Society was in a position to plan and undertake site preparation and to prepare to re-float the ship, before bringing her to the permanent berth.

1986     October 30     Work commenced in earnest, scuba divers removed maritime growth from below the water line. A channel was created between the ship and shore by mechanical plant and pumping equipment hoisted on board. As the wake of a Cook Strait ferry surged into Shakespeare Bay, the 133 year old ship stirred for the first time in 20 years.

1986     November 4     The vessel floated free and was then able to be moved into deeper water. Riding quietly at anchor and stirred by each ferry wash into Shakespeare Bay, a month of feverish activity by volunteer helpers then began. A derelict waterlogged hulk was transferred into a proud old ship ready for the final voyage. Nearly 400 tonnes of shingle ballast had been removed revealing the hull, the wonders of which had not seen the light of day for over 80 years. On the final day of this activity brooms and brushes were used to tidy the last remains of ballast in a water-tight hull, from which only rain water had to be pumped. The outside woodwork had been given a preservative coating of diluted Stockholm Tar and all was ready for the long awaited move.


1986     December 4     Exactly one month after floating free for the first time in twenty years, the anchor lines were being cast off. At 10.25 am with her own pennant identification letters J.D.M.N. fluttering from a makeshift mast, the Edwin Fox was taken in tow by the Harbour Board pilot launch Marlborough. With the launch Ramona in attendance and accompanied by a small fleet of pleasure craft, the last voyage had begun. The approaching 9,000 ton Cook Strait ferry Arahura slackened speed, giving way to sail, as the Edwin Fox crossed the shipping lane to come up the Eastern side of Picton Harbour. A hastily rigged block and rope on to the vessel's own rudder post, was manned by volunteer crew and a steady course was steered along the Eastern shore. Turning and berthing was assisted by four jet boats and by mid-day the final berthing was completed exactly on schedule. A proud ship had made a trouble free last voyage.


1987 Paul F. Hundley, a marine archaeologist at the Western Australian Maritime Museum receives a Earthwatch International grant to prepare a Survey of a 19th Century Shipwreck, the "Edwin Fox" in New Zealand.

1990     March 7     A commemorative Edwin Fox stamp is issued by the New Zealand Post Office.


1996 November 5     A plan to purchase and relocate the historic relic to Wellington received wide publicity. The proposal raised more than NZ$1 million in promised funding and this was on top of the City Council's seed money. The relocation to Wellington would have allowed any subsequent monies to go into the ship itself rather than the dry dock as at Picton.

"The Wellington City Council's contribution to the Edwin Fox Trust has been limited to date.  The Economic Development and Promotion Committee allocated $7,000 seed funding to assist in the development of a proposal and a feasibility study.  The Capital Development Agency provided $5,000 and the use of office space in the belief that there would be economic spin-offs and jobs created by the scheme.  Also the Lambton Harbour Management Ltd.  contributed $16,000 to the Trust.  The remainder of the funding for the project was secured through public commitments.  The proposal eventually failed."

1997     July     Evidence of hogging can be seen in the hull planking and a few minor leaks had developed.

1998     September 19     An account of prisoners on convict ships being flogged for disobedience and put in leg irons for complaining about the food re-emerged after 140 years. The battered notebook, written by an anonymous officer in charge of convicts aboard the ship the Edwin Fox, was auctioned by Christies of London, and realised £2,070. It reveals the personal details and suffering of 280 convicts, some as young as 14, transported to Australia in August 1858.

1999     May 18     She remained floating at temporary berthage until entering the custom built graving dock at Picton.


1999     June 8     The Marlborough Express newspaper reports that the Edwin Fox hulk has opened to the public again, at Picton, having been towed back from Westshore where it remained for a year while a graving dock was completed.  The vessel has now been towed into the dry dock where it will survive longer.  Three tonnes of mussels were removed from the ship, which has not been dry docked since 1885.


2000     May 22     The Edwin Fox was given a Category One Registration from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and the government has contributed $300,000 towards the cost of roofing the graving dock.

2001     All that remains of the ship today is an open hulk; both decks have been vandalised and the upper portions of the hull are rotted out as a consequence of the long term exposure to fresh water.  The lower hull, however, is still in excellent condition considering all the uses that it has been put to over the years.


Considering her historical significance, the ship has attracted little public interest and the estimated NZ$22 million required for a complete restoration has become an impossible dream.  This lead to a recent resolution by the preservation society to change their focus from restoration to preservation of what remains of the ship.  She has no decks, so when necessary they pump out the rainwater.  The Edwin Fox now has a roof built over her and a preservative applied to all timber to stop rotting thanks to a further grant by the New Zealand Government in 2000.

The Edwin Fox Maritime Centre is open every day from 8.45am to 5pm (in the Summer until 6:30) at Dunbar Wharf, which is only a two minute walk along the foreshore from the Cook Strait Ferry terminal in Picton. Thousands of people visit the museum and the ship each year in its lovely setting in the Queen Charlotte Sound.  To view the hulk in its dry dock, and the interpretive display centre allow yourself about an hour. The admission charge (Jan 2005) for adults is $6 and $1 for children.  

A scale model of the Edwin Fox, constructed by Nelson cabinet maker Peter Raggett, is on display at the Founder's Historic Park, 87 Atawhai Drive, Nelson.  Telephone 03 548 2649.


Author not stated (but mostly compiled from the research notes of Roderick Glassford Sydney)
The Story of the Edwin Fox
Picton, Edwin Fox Restoration Society Inc. 1987. Pictorial card covers, 30 pages, illustrated.

Bateson, Charles
The Convict Ships     1787-1868
Glasgow: Brown, Son & Ferguson, 1969. Illustrated. The cover illustraion, a painting by Anthony Shennan showing the interior of a convict ship, appears on this site
History of the voyages transporting convicts to Australia.

Brett, Sir Henry
White Wings : Immigrant Ships to New Zealand 1840-1902
Wellington: Reed, 1984 Cloth. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. ISBN:0589015176.

Cooper, J. E.
Sea Breezes - The P.S.N.C. Magazine
Liverpool: Pacific Steam Navigation Company, October, 1931. Article: Sailing Vessel Edwin Fox.

Hastings, Phyllis
The Swan River Story
London: Corgi, 1973.

Kelly, Henry D.
As High as the Hills; the Centennial History of Picton
Whatamongo Bay: Cape Catley, 1976. Cloth, 262 pages, illustrated.

Matthews, Graeme and Matthews, Nevil
The Marlborough Sounds
Blenheim: Authur, 1992. Card covers, Photographic essay with text.

Ponder, W. Frank
A Labyrinth of Waterways; the Forgotten Story of the Marlborough Sounds
Blenheim: Wenlock House, 1986. Cloth, 168 pages, illustrated.

Savill, David
Sail to New Zealand; The Story of Shaw Savill & Co 1858-82
London: Robert Hale, 1986. Cloth, 185 pages, illustrated.

Sutton, Jean
Lords of the East; The East India Company and Its Ships
London: Conway Maritime Press, 1981


Thanks to Jenny Burn, Dave Gittins, Martin Navarro, Anthony Shennan, Steven McLachlan (specialist in Maritime Covers) for many of the images and Marcus Castell for bringing it all together, Mike Sixtus, Project Manager Edwin Fox Society Inc.

This page is part of the Historic New Zealand Vessels section of the
New Zealand Maritime Record
web site.



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NZ National Maritime Museum

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