Sunday, 28 February 2016


The Argus (Melbourne) Saturday 6 November, 1909.

LONDON, Nov. 4.
The "Lloyd's Register" shipping report,
just issued, shows a sinking decline of
shipbuilding, both British and foreign.
The vessels classified by Lloyd's in 1908-9
numbered only 834,984, compared with
1,484,722 classified in 1906-7.
The total tonnage under construction in
June last in Great Britain was only 53
per cent of the quantity under construction 
at the same period of 1906.
(It is well to note, in regard to the above
message that the depression which began
at the end of 1907, when the American financial
crisis had an unsettling effect, is now
passing away. Since May there has been
a marked change in the trade returns of the
United Kingdom in the important ship-building 
trade. "The Times" noted as early
as July 10 that the prospects were much
better than at the beginning of the year.)
Orders for new tonnage were being placed
freely, and the number of ships idle at
lying-up berths was being greatly reduced.

This illuminating article might explain why short cuts were taken in the construction of the Waratah. The wishlist for the flagship stretched beyond the budget price of 139 900 pounds. The result? Lack of adequate heat insulation, engine room (fire 1908); 'boltheads broke loose'; 'wooden structure moving bodily athwart the ship'; 'saloon door separated from the ironwork'; 'the gear of the aftermast became loosened'; 'a steel ladder spanning three decks snapped in two' etc.

It might also explain why structural modifications were not carried out on Waratah's return from her maiden voyage. The Lunds had to keep the original steamer in operation come what may until the financial crisis lifted?

This article also ties in with the important controversial issue whether there was significant gold on board Waratah during her final voyage. A previous post reinforces the comment made about 'the American financial crisis' and explains why there could very probably have been gold on Waratah, despite relatively low production during 1909:

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