Edwin Fox 'downstairs'
A Downstairs Bimble
As we trotted down the steps we saw the massive space unfold before us.
The Hold: This section of the ship has held many interesting cargoes. Imagine working to load or unload any of the following:- rice, tea, jute, sugar and spices from 1853. Cannons, gun powder, tents, food, muskets and medical supplies for the Crimean War from 1853-1856. Supplies and an extra deck of convict cells on the trip to take British convicts to Western Australia in 1858. Immigrants belongings and food to New Zealand in the 1870’s. Wool, flax and whale oil from New Zealand to Britain.
Bear is dwarfed by the remains of the massive timber main mast.
The Main Mast: The mast mast was made of deodar cedars – cedrus deodara, that grew in the Indian Himalayas. It was in three sections and a total height of one hundred and sixty feet. The foremast was one hundred and forty feet and the mizzen one hundred and ten. Upper sections of the mast were removed when the Edwin Fox began serving the mutton industry as a freeze hold.
Draught: The lower marker shows the unladen draught as fourteen feet. The upper marker shows the laden draught as approximately twenty two feet, six inches.
Erosion on the Stanchions: While the ship lay on the beach for twenty odd years in Shakespeare Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, she lay with a starboard list. The deterioration which took place as a result of the movement of the tides can be seen as having a slanting effect both on the stanchions and on the masts. Those parts which were under water most of the time were protected while those at the water line and above have suffered the most.
The Ceiling: The ‘ceiling’ provides an inner lining over the frames from the upper airway down to the lower airway, both of which extend the entire length of the ship. The ceiling is attached to the frames by means of iron or wooden fastenings – trunnels. As with most parts of the ship, the ceiling is made of teak, which was obtained from the forests of Northern India and Burma.
As we bimbled the length of the ship we couldn’t believe the age of the Edwin Fox. Such good condition considering.
Scarph Joint: This example of a scarph joint shows that these joints were designed to hook together. This manner of connecting timbers in a ship provides a more secure method of ensuring a solid and firmly built structure which will stay together in heavy seas.
Sadly, her back end, port side has not faired so very well.
Bits and bobs.
The Bilges: This space under the inner skin of the hull was where water leaking through the seams in the outer planking could collect, the water was polluted with the accumulation of rubbish that came from past cargoes as well as every type of human waste imaginable from above. It was important to keep the bilges clear of water to avoid damaging the cargo and lighten the ship. The crew – and if necessary, male passengers were called to “man the pumps” to remove the bilge water.
The way to remember this lady must be as she was first seen on the high seas.
After being amazed on board the Edwin Fox we looked at all kinds of interesting things en route back to the museum.
Bear did a really poor ‘I see no ships’, well the sun was really bright. His left hand was clutching a fisherman's anchor, rather similar to the one lashed to the deck of Beez Neez. Our anchor has a bit of a story to it. I ‘retired’ a little while before Bear. My job was to complete all pink jobs prior to our departure. Bear seemed to see this as carte blanche to use me as his postal receiver for all packages of all shapes and sizes. One day I was decanting gravy powder when the buzzer went. I pressed the door video and saw a very red-faced Bill, puffing he managed “Hi Pepe, he’s been at it again”. I said I would be right down and with that was in the lift in a flash, pressing G. Out of the lift through the fire door, down the to steps and to the front door. Well I never, there was Bill not looking very amused. I opened the door and could tell this lovely, mild-mannered man was straining at the bit. His whole leg was propping up a brown paper covered anchor. I apologised profusely and promised to rein Bear and his purchases in. He finally managed to calmly tell me that other than the obvious weight and awkwardness of this particular delivery, the protective sponges at the pointy ends had come off sometime during the hefting and they kept biting his ankles. I felt for the man, postmen shouldn’t have to put up with this malarkey. I smiled - my very best, but I couldn’t break this poor mans icy veneer. I asked if he would possibly help me to the lift. No. What about to the steps. No. The sad thing was I never saw Bill again............. Needless to say, my sole fighting with this piece of equipment took quite while. Dragging sixty pounds up the two steps, to the fire door that wanted to swing back at me before I could manipulate things. That done I had to wait for the lift, drag the ‘thing’ in, press five and wait. Drag it from lift all the way to our front door. Down the hall, cunning plan, hide it in the under stairs cupboard. Later, Bear you have a parcel. Oh do I how exciting. Where is it. In the cupboard. OH and several words I cannot possible repeat.......... Do you think this stopped him ordering on line ??? What do you think................Thankfully we left three months later. A heartfelt sorry to all the postmen in Plymouth.
This is the spare propeller of the whale catcher S.S. Orca which was owned and operated by the Perano whaling station situated at the entrance of Tory Channel. The Orca was built in Oslo, Norway and converted into a German minesweeper during World War Two. She weighed three hundred and ninety five tons, fitted with a triple expansion steam engine. Post-war saw Orca whaling in the Antarctic as well as Queensland and later delivery to the Peranos in February 1963. On the 28th of April 1963, Jon Perano caught the first sperm whale from the Orca, this was the first of two hundred and forty eight. The Tory Channel whaling operation ceased on the 22nd of December 1964 and the Orca was broken up for scrap metal at Picton in October 1966. The propeller is four-bladed with an overall diameter of three meters.
Just outside the museum back door was a pile of ballast iron from the Edwin Fox.
ALL IN ALL JUST INCREDIBLE