News from 1929 Death of Second Engineer Purvis

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Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Evening Post, Wellington, 26 April 1929
Retrieved from the National Library of New Zealand web site,


One of the best known and most highly esteemed engineers in the London-New
Zealand shipping trade, Mr. Hugh Purvis, second engineer on the White Star
liner Corinthic, died in England on 28th March. When the vessel left
Wellington on 16th February, the late Mr. Purvis was enjoying his usual good
health, but a private cable message recently received announced that he died
suddenly the day after the Corinthic arrived at Southampton. In the
engine-rooms of three White Star liners, Mr. Purvis had made from 60 to 65
voyages to New Zealand, steaming no less than 1,500,000 miles; and on two
only of these vessels he had served upwards of twenty years.

Seafaring was in his blood, for he was the son of the late Mr. W. H. Purvis,
chief engineer 45 years ago of the White Star Line's first Ionic, one of the
pioneer ships of the direct steamship service established between London and
New Zealand in the early 'eighties.

On the completion of his apprenticeship as an engineer, the late Mr. Purvis
went to sea in a tramp steamer trading to Japan, and he joined the service
of the White Star Line as a junior engineer in the Delphic, and came in her
to New Zealand some 26 or 27 years ago. After some years in the Delphic he
joined the Athenic, and in that vessel and the Corinthic he served for more
than 20 years, rising to second engineer. Mr. Purvis was third engineer of
the Athenic in August, 1914, and went to Egypt in her when she was taken
over as a Main Body, N.Z.E.F., transport. During the whole of the war he was
at sea, first in the Athenic and afterwards in the Corinthic, being promoted
to second engineer of the latter vessel. He was a good friend to the New
Zealand soldiers he came in contact with, and many a "Digger" will have
recollections of having served under him as a volunteer stoker or
engine-room assistant. In 1920 Mr. Purvis again joined the Athenic, and
remained with her until she was sold last year to be converted into a
whaling factory-ship. Then he rejoined the Corinthic, and sailed for two
more trips in her, dying just after the completion of her sixty-fifth
voyage. He had never had an accident at sea in his many voyages to and from
this country, where he was well known and had many friends. He was
unmarried, and was about 49 years of age.

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