Ships 2


Ships 3


Wreck Of The Speke


By James Donahue


The three masted square rigged sailing ship Speke went on the rocks to its destruction on Phillip Island on February 22, 1096, while sailing from Sydney to Melbourne, Australia.


One member of the crew, seaman Frank Henderson, drowned when one of the ship’s lifeboats capsized. The rest of the crew reached shore and safety.


The Speke was a steel vessel measuring 310 feet from stem to stern. It was built in Carnarvon, Wales, in 1891 so had been at sea for 15 years before it was lost.


In its day, the Speke and her sister-ship, the Bragdo, were believed to be among the largest three-masted ships on the high seas.


The ship under the command of a Captain Tiltson was sailing along the coast from Sydney to Geelong to take on a load of wheat when the master confused a brush fire along the coast for navigation lights and steered the vessel into Kitty Miller Bay where it went on the rocks in the night.


The lifeboats were lowered and the crew rowed for shore. One of the boats capsized. Twenty-five of the 26-member crew reached shore safely.


The wreck was purchased by salvagers but not before local scavengers stripped the ship of most of her treasures. Brass lamps were placed in homes, the ship’s bell ended up at the Presbyterian Church and much of the lumber from the superstructure was used for building local houses and sheds.


The ship’s nine-foot-tall figurehead, the carved image of a woman in a white dress and carrying daffodils went missing. It was found years later in a garage on the island.


Flying a British flag, the Speke was owned by R. W. Leyland Shipping Co. of Liverpool.