News from 1886 Coptic arrives at Hobart

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
MAB Note: As far as I know, there was nothing particularly noteworthy
about the trip described in this article, but I thought it provides a good
insight into what a trip from England to Australia and New Zealand involved
in those days.

The Mercury, Hobart, 30 August 1886
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,

This splendid White Star liner, flying the house flag of the Shaw-Savill and
Albion Co., put in appearance in the waters of the cove at 6.15 a.m, on
Saturday last, after a passage of 44 days from Plymouth. This is the sixth
visit of the Coptic to this port, and the number of passengers brought by
her, testify that she has lost none of her popularity with the travelling
public. The trip taking it all through, was a fairly fine weather one
till reaching the Cape, but the latter part of the voyage was rather
tempestuous, fresh westerly gales and high seas, which considerably delayed
the vessel's progress being met with. Notwithstanding this the average run
was 300 miles a day. Following the precedent laid down in former voyages,
concerts, balls, Christy minstrel entertainments, waxworks,and athletic
sports were held to diversify the monotony of the voyage. On Wednesday, the
25th inst., an interesting meeting of the passengers was held in the saloon,
when a complimentary address and a purse of sovereigns was presented to
Captain Kidley. The Hon. W. Halliday, M.L.C., New South Wales, presided,
and after referring to Captain Kidley in eulogistic terms, called upon Mr.
Edward Fowers to read the address, which stated that the passengers were
indebted to the captain for the kind consideration and attention paid to
their comfort during the voyage, whether occupying the steerage or the
saloons. The address also thanked the officers associated with Captain
Kidley for their uniform courtesy and attention extended to them, and
concluded in wishing the captain and officers prosperity in their
profession, and every comfort in their family circles. A complimentary
speech was then made by the Hon. T. Garret (New South Wales Legislature),
who said that to every one on board, down to the smallest child, Captain
Kidley had exhibited such kindness and consideration that be had gained the
affection and approval of all the passengers, and some of them had
determined to present him with a small sum, not very great in itself, but
one which he hoped the captain, under the circumstances, would accept, to be
used as he might think proper. The chairman then presented the purse. Mr. T.
K. Weaver, on behalf of the second saloon passengers, cordially endorsed the
sentiments of the address, and as an old sailor himself spoke very highly of
the captain's abilities as a seaman. As second-class passengers they could
not expect first-class fare and accommodation, but any complaints on that
score should be addressed to the purser and not to the captain. He did not
think that the captain would ever sail with passengers who would more highly
appreciate his services than those from whom he was parting. The Rev. D.
Findlay, M.A., made a few complimentary observations on behalf of the
steerage passengers. Captain Kidley, whose rising was the signal for a
long-continued outburst of applause, at length said, after an apologetic
preface for his lack of eloquence, that the Bible states that "out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Sailors were men of action,
and not orators; but actions spoke louder than words. (Cheers.) It was a
source of great satisfaction to him that the actions of himself and his
officers had met with the approbation of the passengers. They all made one
family on board, and he occupied the position of its head. As the father of
the family, so to speak, he liked to do all in his power to contribute to
making them happy. The head, however, was of no use without the body. It
wanted also the arms and legs. In his officers he had those useful members,
and to their care and skill he owed a great deal in regard to the safe
navigation of the ship. To all those passengers now returning home, he
wished a happy reunion with their friends and relations; and to those going
out to make their fortunes, he could only say he trusted they would make
them, and if they so desired, have a safe return home again under his
superintendence. (Cheers.) Three hearty cheers were then given for
the captain with musical honours, and a similar compliment was paid to the
chairman. The gathering terminated by those present singing the National
Anthem. No sickness of any kind occurred on the voyage. The Coptic landed
here 87 passengers for Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, which are
made up as follows: -17 first saloon, 20 second saloon, and 50 steerage.
They will be conveyed on to their respective destinations by the boats of
the T.S.N. Co. Besides these she conveys 147 passengers on to New Zealand
ports, and landed 96 tons cargo here, consisting principally of case goods.
The Coptic left the Royal Albert Docks at noon on the 15th July, passing
Gravesend at 1.50 p.m., anchoring at Plymouth Sound at 5.20 p.m. on the
16th. Plymouth was bid good bye to at 1.15 p.m. on the 17th, and light
westerly winds and fine weather accompanied the vessel to Teneriffe, which
place was reached at 1.15 p.m. on the 22nd July. A stay of six hours was
made at Teneriffe, which was left behind at 7.30 p m. on the same day. Cape
Verde was breasted at 5 p.m. on the 25th, and moderate southerly winds were
experienced from thence to the Equator, which was crossed on July 30, in
long. 10.06 W. Fresh winds and head seas were the prevailing indications to
the Cape, and the anchor was dropped in Table Bay at 7.30 p,m. on the 7th
August. After embarking 31 passengers, the voyage was continnued [sic] at
midnight of the same day, and on the 8th a batch of bad weather was
encountered in the shape of fresh westerly winds and a high sea, the
distance run down in the 24 hours being 319 knots. This weather lasted until
the 10th. From thence until sighting the Tasmanian coast at 3 p.m. on
Friday last, had nothing but a succession of head winds and seas. The pilot
was taken on board at 5 a.m. on Saturday, the vessel anchoring in the cove
as above. After taking in 600 tons of coal, the Coptic left for New Zealand
ports at 5 a.m. yesterday. Mr. W. J. Rae, the purser (who also had a purse
of sovereigns presented to him), is as courteous and obliging as ever,
readily furnishing our representative with the details of the trip, and
latest English files. Since the last visit fo [sic] the Coptic here some
alterations have taken place in the personnel of her officers. The following
is a complete list of her present staff: Commander, W. H. Kidley; 1st
officer, Robt. E. Bence; 2nd officer, W. H. Patterson; 3rd officer, D. Kerr;
4th officer, H. E. Valentine; 1st engineer, A. Morrison; 2nd engineer,
Thomas Wright; 3rd engineer, C. W. Thom; 4th engineer, Jas. Carruthers; 5th
engineer, James Berry ; 6th engineer, Alexr. R. Deans; boilermaker, C.
Murphy; electrician, S. G. Guild; 1st refrigerator engineer, John W.
Peascod; 2nd refrigerator engineer, George McLellan; purser, W. J. Rae;
surgeon, Frank W. Humpherey; chief steward, T.B. Frost.


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