The Steam Ship Alexandra 1865

The SS Alexandra was one of 5 steam ships to regularly deliver supplies to the Clifton Redoubt, a military outpost and settlement at Pukearuhe White Cliffs, south of the Mokau River.

She was built in Scotland in 1863 as an 80hp Braque Rigged Paddle Steam Ship for the costly price of £13,000 pounds. Alexandra was 162 feet long, 24.3 feet wide, and a draft of 12.2 feet.

Early on the morning of Wednesday, 9th of August, 1865, The Alexandra steamed, slowly through the narrow channel towards her usual anchorage, when she struck a submerged rock. Captain Williams reversed the engines and put out to sea, but she was filling up with water to fast for her pumps to save her. The Captain ordered full steam ahead, as now this was the only thing he could do, was to beach the Alexandra and save his crews’ lives.  The Steam ship Alexandra beached a mile from shore.

News of the wreck reached New Plymouth that day by native courier and arrangements were made to attempt to refloat her. A boat was sent with men and equipment to repair her. However by the time they got to the Steamer it was obvious that she was a total loss. SS Alexandra was abandoned as she lay and become a total wreck.

The Ngati Tama Tribe here Mokau was able to salvage a great deal of her cargo for them selves. Among the items salvaged was the ship’s bell which is now hangs at St Peter’s church by the sea, cooking pots, and provisions. One item of food, a tin full of biscuits, later proved to be inedible. The tale about why the biscuits where inedible continue, in our commentary on board M.V. GlenRoyal as you cruise along the Mokau River

 

 

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