The first vessel to arrive at napier
from london with passengers was the Royal Bride, 526 tons, Captain Laker, which brought
out 24 assisted immigrants. She made a very good passage of 110 days to Auckland. This
ship left the Downs on January 9, 1863, and arrived at Auckland on April 29. The pilot
log-books refer to her as being the first "direct" ship from London, but the
newspaper files show this was not so. She remained in Auckland from the end of April until
May 31 discharging cargo, and reached Napier on June 10. The Royal Bride was cast ashore
at Petane Beach during a terrific north-east gale, but no lives were lost, all hands
getting safely ashore. She was the first large vessel to come to grief on the beach.
"I well remember the wreck of the Royal Bride," writes mr Harding. "From
7pm on Sunday, June 21, there were strong gusts from north-east by east to east-north-east
with rain. At 9pm the wind was still increasing and at midnight the gale was at its height
- the wind gague at the Napier metorological station recorded a maximum pressure of 25lb.
At 1am, Monday, 22nd, the vessel commenced dragging her anchors, about 4am one of the
cables parted, half an hour later she struck heavily aft, the sea makning a clean breach
over her. Until daylight the crew had a very uncomfortable time, but with the assistance
of a large number of natives who had gathered on the beach, all hands were safely got on
shore. The spot where she struck was on the western spit (Petane Beach), about two miles
from the entrance to the inner harbour. At 4 o'clock the same afternoon the wreck was sold
by auction. Hull, spars, rigging, etc were purchased by G E G Richardson for £35; anchors
and chains £37, one hundred tons coal £5, to John Campbell."
White Wings - Sir Henry Brett
Copyright Denise & Peter
The Daily Southern Cross April 30th 1863