Saturday, 19 March 2016


The Argus (Melbourne) Wednesday 21 November, 1906.

AUCKLAND, Tuesday.-- The steamship
Matatua which arrived today from London 
brought particulars of the destruction of the 
steamer Haversham Grange, 600 miles
from Cape Town.
About daylight on October 23 the look-
out on the Matatua sighted thick smoke
issuing from a vessel nearly right ahead.
The vessel proved to be the Haversham
Grange bound from New York to Cape
Town and Australian ports. A boat was
lowered and sent alongside in charge of
the chief officer who learned that the 
captain wished the Matatua to stand by. As
the day advanced the fire spread to No's
5 and 6 holds and at 4 o'clock the captain
of the Haversham Grange made a request
that the crew should be taken on board the
Matatua for the night. The captain was
hopeful that the fire would expend itself
At day light next morning it was found
that the fire had spread forward to No's
2 and 3 hatches. Huge flames were issuing
and all hope of saving the vessel was abandoned. 
A boat was sent shortly after to do what was possible 
to scuttle the burning steamer as she would be 
dangerous to navigation after the fire had
burned out.
The Haversham Grange was left a huge
mass of smoke and flames throughout the
whole length.
The rescued crew were landed at Cape
Town and a report of the disaster made to
the authorities with a recommendation
that a gunboat should be sent to sink the
burning steamer if she was still found
No theory is advanced as to the origin of
the fire.

The Haversham Grange sank 690 miles northwest of Cape Town. As in the case of the SS Volturno the
fire did not destroy the steamer quickly. After more than 24 hours the Haversham Grange was still
afloat - see image below. These cases reinforce that although fires on board could be serious,
complete destruction did not take place within a few hours. This suggests to me the reason why
Captain Ilbery believed he could return the Waratah and her souls safely to Durban.

The burned out shells of steamers presented an imminent danger to other shipping and sending out a
gun boat 690 miles distant to scuttle the Haversham Grange proves this point. Striking partially
submerged wreckage could create a second, fatal disaster at sea. Searching for uncharted rocks as a
cause in the Waratah tragedy pales in comparison with the potential for striking wreckage anywhere
along a coast.

Oh yes, the cause of the fire was not established.

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