Monday, January 18, 2016

Shipwreck survivors 4

During the mid-19th c a wave of immigration to Natal meant an increase in the number of ships to that destination. Some of these vessels came to grief before even anchoring at the port, because the sandbank at the entrance to the harbour made it necessary for ships to wait in the roadstead or outer anchorage for favourable conditions.

Survivors of such shipwrecks generally survived because of the proximity to the settlement at the port and to help from those on shore. A case in point was the Byrne settler ship, Minerva, wrecked on the rocks at the foot of the Bluff in 1850. Among others, Captain William Bell stood in the surf for hours assisting in the rescue of Minerva's passengers and crew. No lives were lost though the new colonists lost all their possessions, making their introduction to Natal much more difficult. But they were made of stern stuff and soon put down roots in the colony. Descendants of these settlers still reside in Natal. 

The wreck of the Minerva by J Forsyth Ingram

This painting offers a snapshot in time showing the costume of residents and sightseers gathered on the beach at the scene of the wreck, as well as some of the temporary tents and other shelters put up to help the settlers from the Minerva.

A lady of the 1850 Settler era

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