William Lund was born in the Schleswig (Denmark) shipping city of Aabenraa, 1837. He was educated at a shipping company in Altona between 1850 and 1857. After this he took an extended trip to Batavia, Adelaide and Melbourne, which no doubt sparked an interest in the Australian trade. Lund returned to Denmark after 13 months and headed a shipping company, Christiania. 1860 saw Lund's relocation to England where he worked in a number of shipping companies before starting his own company, W.L. Ship Handler and Sailmaker, 1861. This new venture was made possible by the brothers Delcomyn, a name later given to Lund's first steamer.
We know the rest of the story, starting in 1877 with the inception of the Blue Anchor Line servicing the route between England and Australia, via South Africa. Subsequent to the dissolution of the Blue Anchor Line early in 1910 (as a direct result of the loss of the Waratah) and the sale of 30 000 tonnes of remaining steamers to the P&O Line, Lund held onto his other shipping company, Kulforretning, sailmaker and ship chandlers, which continued to trade under the name of Wm. L. & Sons. This company was eventually passed to his son F.W. Lund, (who made waves at the Inquiry). F.W. Lund in his own right was involved with Anglo-Persian Oil.
William Lund was highly influential in English shipping and held a number of significant positions of trust:
- He was a member of the Board of Lloyd's Register and chairman of the classification committee.
- Associate of the Institution of Naval Architects.
- Vice Chairman of the General Shipowners Society of London.
- Director of the Bank of Adelaide (London Department).
- Director and Chairman of the Wallarah Coal Company of Sydney.
William Lund died in Chislehurst, 1928, aged 91.
William Lund continued successfully in business after what remained of the Blue Anchor Line fleet was sold to P&O for 275 000 pounds. The loss of the Waratah and her souls became a footnote in history, an unresolved tragedy, a protracted misery destined to be carried forward through the generations by descendants of those who perished.
It is nothing short of astounding that William Lund held the positions listed above. He was a member of the Board of Lloyd's Register and chairman of the classification committee. It is no surprise to me that the classification of the Waratah did not meet her actual specifications. It has been a puzzle that this glaring discrepancy was not tackled in detail during the Inquiry. Lund not only held this influential position but also was an associate of the Institution of Naval Architects, and Vice Chairman of the General Shipowners Society of London.
The Inquiry was confronted with a sensitive predicament. If they aggressively pursued negligence in terms of the Waratah's specifications and more importantly her third deck, they would in turn have been forced to expose the potential scandal that her owner, William Lund, represented Lloyd's, the Institute of Naval Architects and the General Shipowners Society of London. If conclusions were drawn that the Waratah's design, specifications and build quality did not meet standards, the implications were far-reaching and could have been disastrous for the reputation of these distinguished organizations.
It is not surprising that the Inquiry came to the conclusion the Waratah disappeared in a 'storm of exceptional violence' (perils of the sea), which by implication, absolved the Lunds of responsibility. In my opinion, William Lund's list of credentials and influence made it possible to keep the Waratah in service without significant alterations, loaded beyond 26.9 ft., and let us not forget the outrageous number of emigrants on the maiden voyage. William's son Frederick was sent to the Inquiry to face the music and this no doubt distanced William from the inevitable disclosure of his highly influential positions of trust.
All of the above reminds me of the Shakespearean quote: