THE SINKING OF THE BARQUE LIZZIE BELL
WEDNESDAY 24 JULY 1901
WAIMATE REEF, SOUTH TARANAKI
On the night of Wednesday 24 July 1901, the barque Lizzie Bell was totally wrecked on the Waimate Reef, a mile and a half south of the Oeo River, South Taranaki. Twelve members of the total crew of 18, died. There is a memorial to them at the Lizzie Bell Cemetery at Pihama, South Taranaki.
The Lizzie Bell had sailed from Wellington bound for Newcastle, (Australia) when at around 11pm she suddenly struck a rock about a mile or two from the mouth of the Oeo River. Two of the crew fell overboard, and were found dead jammed in among the rocks. The crew immediately abandonded ship into a boat which later overturned. Six more of the crew drowned underneath. After righting the boat, early the next morning the more vigorous survivors found themselves on the rocks below Captain GOOD's property. They made their way to his house to seek help. During the night two more of the crew died in the boat and two who reached shore safely were dead when the rescuers arrived.
A Magisterial Inquiry was held in New Plymouth on July 30. The court found that the the course as stated by the captain was not steered and that the loss of the barque was "occasioned by negligent navigation".
For further information see:
New Zealand Shipwrecks - Various Editions - by C W N Ingram - ISBN 0 589 010476 - AH & A W Reed
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