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NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES
WANGANUI RIVER DROWNINGS
LUDLAM AND ANDERSON FAMILIES
SUNDAY 10 APRIL 1910

Drowning in 19th century New Zealand was so common it became known as “The New Zealand Disease”.

What today are known as quite “tame” rivers and streams held great danger for settlers who relied on fording by foot or on horseback or on a ferry or punt crossing. Being an island nation the weather was very changeable and streams you could jump over in the morning became major torrents a few hours later. Until the railway opened up much of New Zealand travel was by coastal shipping and dangerous river bars claimed many lives.

This story of the LUDLAM and ANDERSON families is a memorial to all those who died from the New Zealand disease.

On Sunday the 10 April 1910, the LUDLAM and ANDERSON families who were near neighbours in Abbott*, Wanganui decided to cross the river for a family picnic at South Beach. They used a 16-foot boat to carry the parties across in two separate trips. The first party made it safely across but the second ran into difficulties with an increasing wind and outgoing tide which created heavy waves. The boat tried to turn back when a huge wave swamped it and all the occupants were thrown in to the river with no survivors.

The following is the list of the family members. The two families are buried side by side in the Heads Road Cemetery, Wanganui.

ANDERSON Euphemia Wife of George ANDERSON 47 Years
ANDERSON Maud Daughter of George 18 Years
ANDERSON Ernest Son of George 3 Years
LUDLAM Martha Wife of Walter William LUDLAM 48 Years
LUDLAM Walter John Son of Walter 19 Years
LUDLAM James Alexander Son of Walter 18 Years
LUDLAM Claude Henry Son of Walter 11 Years
LUDLAM Gladys Muriel Daughter of Walter 6 Years

* Abbott was a tiny settlement on the Wanganui River where the fishing club is now - on the road that runs parallel to Heads Rd near the Castlecliff end. There were only ever about six houses there - by the 1930's there was only one house left. (Thanks to Larraine Sole for this.)


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