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Portland Lifeboat Memorial : 5-11-2013
Portland Lifeboat Memorial : 5-11-2013

Photographs supplied by Diane Watson

A lifeboat and memorial tablet commemorate Captain Fawthrop and his crew who went to the help of shipwreck victims of the ship Admella, rescuing nineteen of the survivors in 1859.  The 1858 Portland lifeboat, is one of the oldest remaining unrestored intact vessels in Australia, possibly the world.

The wreck of the SS Admella in the early hours of August 6th 1859 was only the beginning of a horrific week for survivors who remained on board, in sight of land, while authorities struggled to rescue them from the stricken steamer. The loss of 89 lives, mostly due to cold and exposure, makes the wreck one of the worst maritime disasters in Australian history.

Over the next few days, several rescue attempts were made by the Corio and Ladybird rescue boats. Rockets were fired to try to get lines aboard but mountainous seas and severe winter storms drove the rescuers back and lives were lost as the lifeboats were swamped. A further attempt was made to launch one of Admella's own lifeboats, which had washed ashore, but it too was unsuccessful. By Saturday, one full week after the wreck, the Admella's lifeboat, skippered by Ben Germein and the Corio's boat were launched from the beach and managed to crash through the surf and reach the wreck. Eventually three people made it onto one boat, which then capsized, drowning one man.

The Portland lifeboat which had been towed to the scene by the Ladybird had made an earlier attempt to reach the wreck but was driven back by the raging seas. Now it was finally successful in coming alongside the wreck and the remaining 19 survivors jumped and fell into the boat. They were transferred to the Ladybird which returned to Portland.

Lifeboat stations were established by Colonial governments in response to the risk to trade from loss of life, humanitarian compassion and to follow the lead of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNL1 - England) in providing lifeboats and organising volunteer crews, and the Board of Trade, which established a Coast Guard service in Great Britain, to rescue shipwreck survivors from the shore.

Lifeboat stations were located at Port Fairy, Portland, Queenscliff, Warrnambool and Port Albert (Vic), Newcastle and Sydney (NSW) and Port MacDonnell, Robe - Beachport and Adelaide (SA).

Location

Address:Lee Breakwater Road, Portland Maritime Discovery Centre, Portland, 3305
State:VIC
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -38.346194
Long: 141.607574
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Disaster
Sub-Theme:Maritime

Dedication

Front Inscription

(Memorial Tablet )

                     IN COMMEMORATION
        OF THE BRAVE AND GALLANT ACTION OF
CAPTAIN JAMES FAWTHROP AND CREW
                     OF THIS LIFEBOAT
WHO RESCUED 19 SURVIVORS OF THE ILL FATED S.S.ADMELLA
   WRECKED NEAR CAPE NORTHUMBERLAND S.A.
                     10.AUGUST 1859
                    — LIFEBOAT CREW —
                     W.ROSEVEAR - COX -
    W. BOOTH     P.FRANCIS     H. McDONALD
    A CAREY       W.GUY            C. PATTERSON
    J.DIMOND      J.KEAN           T.TWEDDLE
    J.DUSTING    W.KERKIN      T.J.WARD

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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