One of the postcards in my grandfather collection (Edward Thomas Bailey) was of the barque “Adolphe” and it caught my eye the other day. I decided to Google the “Adolphe” and see what I could find out. What I found was and incredible story! I am continually amazed at what I learn each and every time I look at Grandad’s Postcard Collection.
On Friday, 30 Sept 1904, a mere 111 years ago, the barque “Adolphe” was being towed into the Newcastle Harbour by two tug boats. The ship had just completed an 85 day journey from Antwerp. The tug boats were unable to pull her safely into port though, and heavy seas landed her on top of other submerged wrecks in the harbour in Newcastle, New South Wales, on what was then called “the oyster bank”.
It took 2 hours for rescuers to safely transport all 32 crew to shore, with no loss of life.
The breakwater at Newcastle Harbour was extended after the loss of the “Adolphe” and in 1906, when the break wall reached the Adolphe, her remaining 2 masts were removed for safety reasons. The “Adolphe” rests on top of the wrecked SS Wendourie (1898), and the SS Lindus (1899).
The following article appeared in the Newcastle Herald and Miner’s Advocate on Monday 3 Oct, 1904, page 5
THE ADOLPHE WRECK. There were no developments in connec- tion with the wrecked barque Adolphe on the Oyster Bank yesterday. The vessel re- mains in the same position as when she went aground. Mr. J. C. Reid, Consular Agent for France, and Captain Layec, master of the vessel, went on board yes- terday, and all of the ship’s papers, and the captain’s and crew’s effects were saved. Coxswain M’Kinnon, of the lifeboat, acted as pilot for the party. They boarded the vessel, and found the decks were all dry, and had very little trouble in getting what they wanted. The crew of the Adol- phe will probably leave Newcastle on Sat- urday, and proceed home to France in the F.M.S Caledonien, on Monday. Messrs. J. and A. Brown are advertising to-day for offers from persons willing to undertake salvage work in connection with the wreck. Captain M’Killiam, of the Aberdeen liner Damascus, speaking to a “Newcastle Herald” representative last night, referred to the work done by the lifeboat crew. He said it was magnificent work, and he thought it had never been excelled by any lifeboat crew. Nothing better could have been done by any lifeboat service. The coxswain and men ought to be rewarded for their heroice deeds. He was prepared to put his name on a subscription list to recognise such gallant services. The men risked a lot in doing what they did, and he hoped that they would not be forgotten. It was marvellous how they got the boat over the old wrecks, and saved all hands.
Picture of the Wreck of the Adolphe on Stockton Wall:
“Adolphe wreck1” by Mark McIntosh – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Adolphe_wreck1.jpg#/media/File:Adolphe_wreck1.jpg
Information of Wreck of the Adolphe:
Trove Digistised Newspapers