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The Taranaki Herald, Saturday January 23rd 1875.


The ship "Avalanche" Captain Bishop made the offing early yesterday morning, dropping anchor in the roadstead around 7 o’clock. This is the first immigrant ship that has visited the port for nearly twenty years and the event is one of great importance to the Province. No sooner was the vessel signalled, then active preparations were made for landing the passengers. The Health Officer (Dr O’Carroll) and Mr Hulke, the Immigration Agent, went on board and having inspected the immigrants, the single woman were placed in the boats and brought ashore, first after which the remainder of the passengers were landed as fast as the boat could pass to and from the ship. By the time the first cargo reached the shore, a large number of persons had assembled on the beach, which had a lively appearance through out the day. The passengers together with their luggage were landed carefully and expeditiously, and Messrs Boswell & Co deserve every credit for the manner they carried out their work.

The "Avalanche" was built under the immediate superintendence of Captain Bishop, in the well known yards of Messrs Alexander Hall & Co of Aberdeen. Her length is 215 feet, beam 36 feet, with a depth of hold 21 feet: net tonnage 1,160 tons but she will carry nearly 2500 tons, her registered measurements being 1,210 tons, She is an iron ship of the highest class: her lower masts are tubular iron, being made out of boiler plate: her fore and main yards and lower fore and main topsail yards are also iron. She is calculated to carry 350 adult immigrants. She has nine patent ventilators through her decks, beside hatchways and side lights. She is fitted according to "Lloyds" specifications in every respect, and has on board a stream winch and steam windlass for weighing the anchors. She was built expressly to the order of Messrs Shaw, Savill & Co and intended for the New Zealand trade.

The "Avalanche" was christened by Mrs Bishop the captains wife: and the name was suggested by Mr Temple of the Alpine Club, one of the partners of the firm of Shaw, Savill & Co. She was launched on the 29th August last. Her saloons are admirably fitted: the side cabins are fitted with standing berths under which are placed drawers for passengers and all the conveniences which tend to mitigate the dreariness of a sea voyage. The walls are lined with polished birds eye maple inlaid with teak; the ceilings are pure white with gold mouldings. The captain’s cabin is very spacious and furnished with polished walnut fittings. The chief saloon has no mast running through it and is very spacious. The side handrails are teak (polished) with electro-plated mounts. The partitions are all polished birds-eye maple, inlaid with teak. At the entrance is a curved sideboard, of white marble: around which runs a handsome brass railing. A large looking glass surmounted by a clock runs the length of this and forms a handsome ornament to the saloon, which is well lighted by clerestory skylight, glazed with bent ornamental matted glass. The ceiling is painted pure white and ornamented with gilt mouldings. On each side of the various passages leading to the cabins are small brackets gilt, picked out with blue and vermilion. The seats are provided with reversible backs padded, with velvet covers and carved ends. The general effect on entering the cabin is that it is very light and cheerful and the fittings resemble those of a yacht more than of a trader. Evidently, Shaw, Savill & Co have an eye to preserving their laurels and prevent them being wrested from them by the New Zealand Shipping Company. Her decks are spacious; there are four deckhouses for the men, beside accommodation for twenty-seven more in the forecastle. Adjoining the deckhouses is a well arranged galley and cookhouse; and next to this the donkey engine for working the steam winch and windlass. Between decks she has seven feed of headroom; and although lumbered with the passengers luggage etc appeared very spacious. The department for the single women is divided off and inaccessible except from the poop behind the saloon. No intermingling of passengers has been allowed during the passage. The married people occupied the middle of the "tween" decks, while the single men were forward and during the passage were not allowed further aft than the mainmast and could communicate with the other ends of the vessel by signal only. In every respect she may be looked upon as a model for emigrant ships. The passengers then can express themselves very well pleased with the treatment received on board – with the one exception of being on short allowance of food, the scale not being sufficiently large to meet the demands of a healthy sea appetite.

The "Avalanche" has on board a silver cup for the Wellington Regatta presented by Shaw, Savill & Co.

From the log we take the following extracts –"The ‘Avalanche’ left Gravesend on the 22nd October 1874 and lost sight of the Lizard Point on the 27th October; sighted San Antonio, one of the Cape de Verd Islands on the 13th November; crossed the line on the 25th, thirty four days after leaving Gravesend but made to much westing and got becalmed off the Brazilian coast while crossing the S.E. trades. Sighted the Croizettes, Hog Island and the Twelve Apostles commenced running eastwards about the 17th December. From this date to the 17th January both days inclusive she made 7,636 nautical miles, her quickest days having been 300 miles, whilst her daily average during this time was 13 knots an hour; for thirty two days she averaged 238 miles daily. During the voyage only two vessels were spoken, both bound for Melbourne – the "Benvorrick and the "Romanoud" (the family name of the Duchess of Edinburgh). This latter ship was built alongside the "Avalanche" and was launched the day previous and sailed from Gravesend two days after the "Avalanche" and was spoken on the 5th January 1875 on longitude of 46o S and 87o E latitude. The first land sighted was Mount Egmont on the 21st instant and anchored yesterday morning in the roadstead. On the whole she has had a very fair passage. At first she experienced head winds and calms, afterwards very fine, when she commenced her easting.

She brings 238 immigrants on this trip, equal to 320 souls and 8 cabin passengers. She carries on 59 immigrants to Wellington. Including the crew she had 371 souls on board. She has room for 39 first class passengers. Three births have taken place during the voyage and 5 deaths. This is her first trip and Captain Bishop reports that owing to light winds he has not had a fair opportunity of trying what the ship could do, and had he not been becalmed would have made the passage in less than 80 days.

Captain Bishop (formerly of the "Wild Duck" and "Halcione") expressed very great surprise at the easiness with which the anchorage was approached and still more at the rapid despatch with which the emigrants were landed. He says the roadstead has been very much traduced and he would not hesitate to bring a much larger vessel into the roadstead. He thought Captain Holford was only chaffing him when he said the "Avalanche" would be able to sail to Wellington the same night, but there is the fact accomplished; he has come in, landed his passengers, and sailed - all within twelve hours. The following testimonial was presented to Captain Bishop and Dr Doyle previous to the passengers leaving the vessel:-

Ship "Avalanche" January 22 1875.

To Messrs Bishop & Doyle.

GENTLEMEN. - We the emigrants on board the "Avalanche" at the termination of our voyage of ninety-one days fifteen hours duration, feel called on to express the high opinion we entertain of your professional skill, and to thank you for the courtesy and kindness you manifested in your daily intercourse with us.

The Captain (Mr Bishop) has always shown himself most watchful of our welfare, and in the discharge of his onerous duties has displayed such firmness tempered with kindness as to win the ready co-operation of all on board, and to make us feel we were under the guidance of a perfectly competent seaman and gentleman.

Of the surgeon (Mr Doyle) we can only say he was most affable and courteous whilst he always displayed the greatest anxiety and watchfulness not only over his patients, but also over all the passengers. He was ever ready, day and night to hear our complaints and to minister to our wants; and the absence of any serious or infectious disease is in a great measure due to his attention and skill. To both gentlemen we tender our heartfelt gratitude for having landed us in safety, after such a long and perilous journey.

We cannot let this opportunity pass without bearing witness to the great professional skill and untiring exertions displayed by the first and second officers (Messrs Bolin and Woods) and to thank them also for the courtesy and kindness they showed to make us feel contented and happy.

We trust in our separation that all will carry away with them grateful remembrances of the days spent on board the "Avalanche" and that the shortcomings of any offender may be forgotten, so that a bitter thought may not arise out of the voyage. To carry out this wish, if any have misbehaved or offended, we strongly recommend them not only to lenity but to mercy for

"The quality of mercy is not strained
It droppeth like the gentle rain from heaven on the place beneath
It is twice blessed, it blesseth him that gives and him that takes
It is mightiest in the mighty and becomes the throned monarch better than his crown"

In conclusion we have only to wish the captain and officers a safe voyage home to the bosom of their families and friends, and to all and each a happy and prosperous future.

There follows the names of all those passengers who signed the testimonial