Wednesday, 23 September 2015


The following table compares the cargo items and amounts allegedly on board the Waratah when she departed Durban. I have drawn from 7 different newspapers of the time to illustrate how the items and weights, as reported, varied. The Lunds wanted the public to believe that there were 6128 tons of cargo on the Waratah; the Inquiry came to a figure of 6400 tons, and as the following table shows, under estimation was the order of the day. For the purposes of the analysis the different newspapers are represented as A,B,C etc.

pcs = pieces
css = cases
pks = packages
crts = crates
cs = case
css = cases

                             A               B               C               D               E               F               G

WOOL                168 tons      486 tons    259 tons   168 tons    486 tons        -                -
OATS                 600 tons        50 tons      60 tons   600 tons      50 tons        -                -
FLOUR              100 tons      862 tons     500 tons    100 tons   862 tons    964 tons   59 tons
TIMBER             227 tons                       1050 pcs
FUR SKINS           31 tons      132 tons     198 tons     31 tons
LEATHER            12 tons          9 tons     3.6 tons     12 tons       9 tons
TALLOW           500 tons        95 tons     1290 css    500 tons     95 tons     183 css   183 css
MEATS              1520 css                        1510 css
CUTTINGS         150 tons                                         36 tons
GLUEPIECES       10 tons                          4 tons       10 tons
RAGS                   7 tons                                            7 tons
SHEEPSKIN           8 tons                                            8 tons
BUTTER            1050 boxes (30 tons)     1000 boxes  1050 boxes
RABBITS            3000 crts     3512 crts      2337 crts   3000 crts  3512 crts  500 crts  500 crts
CARCASSES        1000 (68 tons)                1000             1000
WHEAT                               100 tons       660 tons                      100 tons  429 tons  507 tns
WINE                 21 pks         21 pks                             21 pks       23 pks     23 pks
HIDES               15 tons          1 tons                           15 tons      33 tons    33 tons
BARLEY                                                                                       9 tons     9 tons
MOULDBOARD                                                                             1 cs           1 cs
APPLES                                100 css
GLYCERINE                        21 drums
WHISKY                                 21 css
HORNS                                0.47 tons
FURNITURE       30 tons         30 tons                           30 tons
BARK                 57 tons                            52 tons                                                   55 tons
RABBIT SKINS                                          132 tons
DRIED FRUIT                                           1200 css                       1001 css             1001 css
CRAYFISH                                                   20 css                           20 css                 20 css
EUCALYPTUS OIL                                                                           40 pks                40 pks
ORANGES                                                1238 css                        1238 css            1236 css
BRANDY                                                                                           5 css                  5 css
CHINAWARE                                                                                      1 pk                  1 pk
LEAD                 300 tons
METALS                             112 css
RAILS                                                         114
LEAD INGOTS                                         7660 (27 tons)
GOLD BARS                                             7600 (105 tons)
SILVER BARS                                          7350 (2.9 tons - 12.5 ounce bars)
COPPER INGOTS                                   10710 (95.6 - 107 tons)              10710                10710
MACHINERY      51 css       112 css
SUNDRIES         92 pks                                                                 15 pks               15 pks

Before I go into the details it must be said that there are difficulties establishing standardized weight measurements for some 'packages' and 'cases'. This has forced me to guesstimate, with the proviso of updating the figures in future.

The following extracts have helped to establish the weights of meat crates and boxes of butter:

 'packages of meat of various sizes ranging from crates measuring 5 feet 8 inches by 5 feet 6 inches by 4 feet 4 inches, and weighing over one ton each (wreck report for the 'Yarmouth', 1909)'

'56 pounds of butter per box (Sydney Morning Herald, 1909)'

The weight of mutton carcasses is based on the average weight of a mutton carcass, circa 1909 - 136 pounds.

I have taken the liberty of converting cargo items in bags and bales into the standardized ton weight equivalents for 1909.

At a glance, it is immediately clear that details regarding the Waratah's cargo varied extensively. But there is a common thread uniting most of the newspaper reports and establishing via 7 different reports, a broader understanding of what constituted the cargo on the Waratah when she departed Durban.

Let's start by totaling the maximum ton weights presented in the above chart:

a) 9683.37 tons  

This figure is sobering and does not include the items requiring estimation.

If we total up the lowest values for each ton weight item we get:

b) 3713.97 tons

This figure is well short of quoted figures, but if we average a) and b), it gives us the following figure:

c) 6698.67 tons

Bearing in mind that we are yet to take into account a considerable portion of items, the figure of 6698.67 tons is already in excess of the figure quoted at the Inquiry - 6400 tons - by a considerable margin.

For the purposes of a reasonable guesstimate for the balance of quoted cargo I have used the following guidelines:

case = 0.39 tons (based on the tallow figures)
drum = 0.21 tons
package = case
rails = 80 pounds each
case machinery / metals = 1 ton

Highest values:

wine - 8.9 tons
mouldboard - 0.39 tons
apples - 39 tons
glycerine - 4.41 tons
whisky - 8.2 tons
dried fruit - 468 tons
crayfish - 7.8 tons
eucalyptus oil - 15.6 tons
oranges - 483 tons
brandy - 2 tons
chinaware - .39 tons
metals - 112 tons
rails - 4.56 tons
machinery - 112 tons
sundries - 35.88 tons

total = 3300.13 tons, which brings the larger figure a)  to a total:

d) 12 983.50 tons (wow)

If we repeat the exercise using the lowest values, we get:

wine - 8.2 tons
mouldboard - 0.39 tons
apples - 39 tons
glycerine - 4.41 tons
whisky - 8.2 tons
dried fruit - 390.4 tons
eucalyptus oil - 15.6 tons
oranges - 482 tons
brandy - 2 tons
chinaware - .39 tons
metals - 112 tons
rails - 4.56 tons
machinery - 51 tons
sundries - 5.85 tons

total = 1124 tons

If we add this to the lowest total b) above we get:

e) 4837.97 tons.

The average, taking all these figures into account is:

f) 8910.74 tons!

It is extraordinary that this figure is almost the 9000 ton figure quoted in many period newspapers. If we are to believe these figures (accepting the limitations) we get a very different picture of the cargo component of the Waratah when she departed Durban. There is no doubt in my mind that she carried far more cargo than generally accepted. This component of cargo would have created, with judicious stowing, a suitably stable steamer in terms of metacentric height (top heaviness), but created the vessel that both Mr Sawyer and Mr Ebsworth remarked as 'dead' with a tendency to plow through oncoming swells - i.e. a very heavily loaded steamer (for the 'off season')!

But surely the most interesting component of the above cargo lists, must be the 105 tons of gold, shipped at Sydney. It is obvious that the Court's Mr. Larcombe was reluctant to report on the 'fuller' cargo picture and reverted back to the most conservative line of action. Because of difficulties associated with establishing an exact cargo manifest for the Waratah, it 'excused' conservative figures in favour of a more realistic presentation of the facts at the Inquiry.

I do not think we shall ever learn how much gold, if any at all, was loaded onto the Waratah in Durban, but 105 tons loaded at Sydney is significant. Interesting to note that 2.9 tons of silver bars were also recorded, confirming the comments in yesterday's post:

'The principal part of the Waratah'scargo consisted of a large consignmentof lead and silver from the Broken HillProprietary Mines.'
'It is believed that the Waratah also had a considerable amount of gold aboard.'

also see:

1 comment:

Mole said...

Amazing information. Thanks Andrew.