EVENTS SURROUNDING THE
GROUNDING OF THE BERKSHIRE
Wellington Independent February 13th 1850
The Supply arrived on Saturday from Nelson. By her we learn that the Berkshire, from London, had gone on the bank at Nelson, and received considerable damage. The Woodstock had been taken up to bring on her passengers and cargo.
Wellington Independent February 20th 1850
17 Feb 1850 Barque, Woodstock, 300 tons, Captain William Nicholson, From Nelson.
Passengers - White, Mrs and child; Kirton, Reverend Mr and Mrs and 5 children; Cameron [Cannon?], Mr and Mrs and 2 children; Messres Williams, Armstrong, Williamson , Walker.
Nelson Examiner - reprinted in the Wellington Independent February 20th 1850
A serious accident occurred to the barque Berkshire, on her attempting to enter our harbour on Wednesday morning last. In consequence of the illness of Stirling, the pilot, Captain Walker, who has been for some time on our coast in charge of small vessels, was acting temporarily in that capacity. He, accordingly, on the morning in question, went on board the Berkshire on her arrival in the gulf, and took charge of the vesel. Unfortunately, before reaching the entrance to the harbour, the tide had turned, and as the wind was light, and fell almost to a calm when she got to the Arrow Rock, the vessel ran on the spit after passing the Whitby Beacon. Here the vessel hung, and when the tide fell, three fourths of her keel was high and dry on the boulders, the stern alone being in the water. By starting the water casck, and otherwise lightening the ship, she came off again at the top of high water the following tide, but was not brought into harbour until the following day. What amount of damage the vessel has sustained, it is at present impossible to say, but as soon as her cargo can be discharged she will, we understand, we understand, be laid on the bank for examination, and a survey held upon her. It was doubtless a great error on the part of the acting pilot to try and bring in the vessel after the tide had turned, with so little wind, because the slightest knowledge of the port should have told him that such an attempt must be highly dangerous. With only ordinary prudence, such an accident as happened to the Berkshire never could have occurred; and it should be remembered, that the only two accidents of any note which have ever happened to vessels entering or leaving our harbour, have occurred when persons not properly qualified have been temporarliy acting as pilots, during periods of sickness to the pilots themselves. Such was the case during the illness of Cross when the Fifeshire went on shore alongside the Arrow Rock, on leaving the harbour in February 1841, and such was again the case on Wednesday last, when the Berkshire was laid ashore nearly abreast of the same spot, on the opposite side of the channel. We cannot exculpate the Government from blame in this matter, which, as usual, neglectswhat is really essential to the prosperity and convenience of the various settlements, because it would cost a little money to do what is necessary, while at the same time it will squander away thousands of pounds in idle patronage, or on works of but little utility. It was reported to the Government long ago, and the opinion has since been confirmed by Captain Stokes of the Acheron, and other competent authorities, that, for the insignificany sum of £100 rocks might be removed which would increase the width at the entrance to our harbour by exactly one-third. The Government can afford £200 a year to its Nominee Councillors from Nelson, but it cannot spare £100 to render our harbour so much more easy to access. - Surely an end must come to this at last. We hope, however, that some good may spring out of the accident, and that it may lead to the return of our former pilot, Cross, who we believe has a strong desire to leave Auckland, and resume his old duties in Nelson. - Nelson Examiner