Tuesday, 11 August 2015


Singleton Argus (NSW) Thursday 2 February, 1911

London, Wednesday.THE LOST WARATAH.
The inquiry by the Board of Trade intothe loss of the steamer Waratah wasresumed yesterday. Counsel for the relatives of those aboard contended that the letters of Mr Lund to the builders were the outcome of a serious discussion between Mr Lund and Captain Ilbery. Counsel for the builders said that experts had proved the vessel's stability,and urged that the builders were not responsible for any deviation from the plans made by the owners.

An extraordinary statement was made in this report:
'the builders were not responsible for any deviation from the plans made by the owners.'
My understanding of the Waratah flagship project is that Captain Ilbery and the Lunds submitted to Barclay Curle & Co, rough sketches of a steamer based on the existing Geelong, but slightly larger and including an additional third superstructure deck. The intention was to provide emigrant, regular passenger and cargo trade between the UK and Australia. 
Drawing from the Blue Anchor Line's experience transporting troops and horses during the Anglo-Boer War, it was agreed that a novel departure would include utilizing the spar deck for two very different purposes. The deck would provide demountable dormitory accommodation for emigrants outbound from the UK. For the return trip, the spar deck would be converted into cargo holds and the highly contentious twin spar deck emergency coal bunkers.  My understanding is that this was on the table at the outset of the project, and the builders converted the sketches into formal plans which met approval with Lloyd's of London, representatives of which inspected the progress of construction through to completion of the Waratah, giving her a Class A1 rating. 
However, this report is highly suggestive that changes were in fact made during the construction process at the behest of the Lunds. We know that once completed, the builders had reservations about using the spar deck coal bunkers and advised against it when the Waratah was in 'light' condition. Were these coal bunkers added as an afterthought, even though they appear as permanent coal bunkers on the plans? Or perhaps, the demountable dormitories were the deviation from the plans? 
One does wonder if the spar deck coal bunkers were the only source of contention, or whether there was anything else relating to the Waratah which was altered or changed after the formal design plans were drawn up. It seems almost bizarre that this issue was not followed up in more detail at the Inquiry.

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