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Anchor, Star of Greece

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Fast Facts
Type of thing Business
Date made or found c. 1868


Current location Semphore
Ceased use 1888

Early on the morning of 13 July 1888, at about 3.00am, the crew of the Star of Greece dropped an anchor but it failed to hold. According to the Christian Colonist newspaper: About 2 o'clock 'one of the officers: seeing land on the lee bow, called the captain. Sail was at once shortened and anchors were let go, but it was too late to save the ill-fated ship, dragging her anchors she struck the shore at Port Willunga … so heavily as to carry several of the masts by the board, and to break the vessel's back. (Christian Colonist July 20, 1888, p. 2 )

Captain Henderson of the Cowry, the ship sent to carry out salvage operations, testified to the Parliamentary Inquiry there were only 40 fathoms of chain attached to the anchor rather than 60 fathoms. As the chain had wrapped around the stock, this deficiency in chain may have contributed to the failure of the anchor to hold. It has never been discovered exactly why the chain was short. The Star of Greece had more than one anchor and there may have been five or more anchors of several different sizes. The largest anchor would have been the sheet anchor, with two slightly smaller bower anchors, a kedge anchor, and an unknown number of spares. After the wreck the remains of the ship were sold in a bid to redeem some compensation for the loss: At half-past 2 o'clock on Monday Elder, Smith, & Co. sold the hull of the ship Star of Greece, as it now lies on the beach near Port Willunga; all the appurtenances, stores, masts, spars, chains, anchors, boats, gear, &c, belonging to the ship ; the cargo shipped as 16,002 bags wheat. The vessel, with all belongings, was sold to Mr. W. Russell, of Port Adelaide, for £105. (South Australian Register, July 23 1888, p. 1)

William Russell was a well-known and respected sailmaker and ship’s chandler at Port Adelaide. Following his death, his business passed to William Playfair. In 1950, when the residents of Semaphore were choosing a suitable memorial for sea captains, an anchor from the Star of Greece was donated by Messrs J. Dickson and W. Playfair.

This Star of Greece anchor was a Trotman’s anchor. Trotman’s anchors had been available since 1852, when John Trotman had patented it. Trotman’s anchors were used by many of the great steamer lines and sailing ships in second half of the 19th century. In 1853, the British Admiralty tested eight different anchors only to find that the Trotman’s was clearly superior to all the others. Ironically, only the British Admiralty abstained from using them.

The Star of Greece anchor can still be seen at the Esplanade at Semaphore, a stark reminder of the dangers faced by the captains and crews of the sailing ships. Some people have called for this anchor to be moved to Port Willunga, however, it is been a memorial for over 60 years in its current location. For more information on other things to view related to the Star of Greece, view the Star of Greece trail.

Sources

  • THE HISTORY OF AN ANCHOR. (1860 September 24). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide SA : 1858 - 1889) p. 3
  • THE WRECK OF THE STAR OF GREECE. (1888 July 20). Christian Colonist (SA : 1878 - 1894) p. 2
  • DISASTROUS WRECK—STAR OF GREECE LOST. (1888 July 23). South Australian Register (Adelaide SA : 1839 - 1900) p. 1 (Supplement to the South Australian Register.)
  • Seamen's memorial site picked (1950 October 21). The Mail (Adelaide SA : 1912 - 1954) p. 18
  • William Russell Pty Ltd SA History Hub. (2018). Retrieved from /subjects/william-russell-pty-ltd
  • Conley R. (2013). Art in the Park – Iron Stock Trotman Anchor (DA 64)
  • Simpson P. W. (2017). Star of Greece: For Profit & Glory Adelaide: Clippership Press



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