Friday, 22 July 2016


Inquiry extract:

(3) Six or seven months after the "Waratah" was missing a man called at Messrs. Lund's office, giving a name which Mr. F. W. Lund thinks was Brendon, and saying that he was master of a ship called the "Talis." He told Mr. Lund that he, on the 27th July, 1909, was bound in ballast from East London to Valparaiso, and when about 25 or 30 miles out from East London, about 5 or 6 p.m., the "Waratah" came up and had to alter her course to pass under his stern. He said that he hoisted his number and asked to be reported, which the "Waratah" promised to do. There was, he stated, a heavy swell with a fresh breeze from the south. This gentleman gave the address of an hotel in London. 

Every possible attempt has been made to trace Mr. Brendon, but without result, and no better success has attended efforts made to discover a ship named the "Talis." 

This is a fascinating, unsubstantiated account. I can find only one vessel, SS Talis, which foundered in 1906 - see below.

Inquiry extract, Clan MacIntyre:

"During the 27th July the wind was first S.S.W. fresh, then about noon S. by E. strong, after that S.W. strong gale, moderating between 4 and 8 p.m.

The sea was at first moderate, then from 8 a.m. to noon rather rough, then from noon to about 5 p.m. a high head sea, ship pitching and shipping heavy seas over the forecastle head, and then from 5 p.m. to midnight it was rather less rough.

Let's assume for a moment that the vessel and master existed. Returning to the above account it is conceivable that a 'heavy swell and fresh breeze from the south' could be verified by the Clan MacIntyre log account. It matches.

If Waratah went out of sight at 9.30 am, abeam of the Xora River mouth, averaging about 14 knots, she would have covered 120 miles in the following 8 hours, which placed her between 25 and 30 miles southwest of East London, as reported by 'Brendon' !!

This scenario is fascinating and intriguing. It seems highly plausible apart from the fact that the captain and his ship were not traceable. 

The account in its entirety came from the mouth of F W Lund. He was unclear about the name of the man or his ship, but he was very clear about details such as position and weather conditions. Odd, don't you think?

The Lunds were adamant that the Harlow account could not have been true and did everything within their influence to discredit it. I am inclined to think that in addition to the odd Guelph account this 'Talis' story was just that. Lund wanted Waratah at that position, at that time, to prove that she was on course and not behind schedule, implying that whatever went awry related exclusively to the 'storm of exceptional violence' and not due to a fault with his flagship or incompetence on the part of her crew.

It is almost scary!!

Talis SS was a Swedish Cargo Steamer of 870 tons built by F & W Smith in North Shields in 1865 as the Dudley. In 1870 the Dudley received a two cylinder compound engine. In 1871 she was lengthened to measure 66.42m x 8.59m x 4.63m. The vessel received new boilers in 1878. In 1885 the Dudley was the first ship bought by Walter Runciman, a young entrepreneur who founded the Runciman Co. and the South Shields S.S. Co. She had been laid up on the Tyne when Runciman found her. The fairly old and small steamer was mainly used in the home trades between Trondheim in Norway and Ipswich on the east coast. 

Shortly before her sinking the Dudley was bought by Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget Göteborg and renamed Talis. She sank in a collision with the Liverpool steamship Roman on the 22 July 1906 when en route from Llanelli in south Wales to Gävle in Sweden with a cargo of coal. 


Mole said...

Scary stuff, coming from Mr Lund, and unsubstantiated with no trace found of the ship or the mysterious Mr Brendon. Curiouser and curiouser ...

Anonymous said...

I always thought the report probable as the timelines matched so well. As for disappearing thereafter, the Master's conscience was satisfied, and tide waits for no man. Perhaps such as SV Pallas wrecked the next year.

andrew van rensburg said...

Beautifully put.