‘FLORA BELL’ – Ship owned by John Wright

Wood Ketch 42 tons Length 64.6ft, Berth 17.8ft, Deep 5.8ft.  Registered Sydney 54/1878,   0/N 74988. Built by Giles Jenkins, Davistown, Brisbane Waters.  Launched 3/8/1878.  Owners: William Harmer, Robert White and John Worley of Gosford.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW 1842 – 1954)

On Saturday last, the 3rd instant, there was launched from the yard of Mr Giles Jenkins, Davistown, a ketch built to the order of Messrs, William Harmer, Robert White and John Worley of Gosford.  The ‘Flora Bell’, for such was the name given at the christening in the orthodox fashion by Mrs Jenkins, is 60 feet on the keel, with 18 foot beam and 5 & 1/2ft depth of hold, and draws 6 feet when loaded.  She is intended for the timber trade, and to run between Sydney and this port.  About 150 persons assembled to witness the launch, and were subsequently sumptuously entertained by Mr and Mrs Jenkins.

Evening News (Sydney, NSW 1869 – 1931) – Thursday 28 July 1881

The ‘Flora Bell’ arrived at Port Macquarie from Sydney.  The ‘Huntley Castle’ and ‘Ann’ arrived at Nelson’s Bay from Sydney this morning.

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW 1843 – 1893 – Thursday 23 March 1882).  Next issue – MANNING RIVER.

Manning River Times, March 18

We have received information that a melancholy boat accident has happened at North Forster, by which a seaman named Harry, belonging to the ketch ‘Flora Bell’, lost his life.  It appears that three of the men went over the bar in a boat for the purpose of putting out a kedge to warp the vessel out; on returning the boat capsized in the breakers, and threw the men into the water.  One of them clung to a paddle, and was washed ashore.  Another seized hold of a life buoy, which was thrown from the vessel, and was saved, but the third poor fellow sank before assistance could be rendered.  The deceased is a Swede, unmarried, and had been employed in the ‘Flora Bell’ for about 10 months.  The accident was witnessed by several persons, and every effort was made in vain to save the unfortunate man.  Up to Thursday the body had not been recovered.  Subsequently, the boat was washed ashore bottom upwards.

15/5/1882; Flora was owned by Robert John White of Brisbane Water, master mariner.  On this day 15/5/1882 the Flora Bell was transferred to; Edward Johnston, Sydney, a timber merchant, 27 shares.  John Wright, Cape Hawke, sawmill proprietor, 27 shares.  John Richards of Sydney, master mariner, 10 shares.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954) – Saturday 3 March 1883.                Forster: Arrivals:  March 1, Jonathan, White Cloud, Dewdrop, Flora Bell and Petrel.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954) Monday 1 December 1884.

Forster: Arrivals: November 30: ‘Alfred Fenning’, ‘Dewdrop’, ‘Flora Bell’ and ‘Favourite’, ketches, this evening.

CAPE HAWKE:  Arrival: November 29, Annie ketch.  Departure: November 29, ‘Ability’ ketch.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954) Saturday 21 February 18850.

CAPE HAWKE:  Departures:  February 20, ‘Favourite’, ‘Petrel’, ‘Shannon’, ‘Flora Bell’ and ‘Mystery’.

13th June, 1889 John Wright of North Forster, Cape Hawke in the Colony of New South Wales, sawmill proprietor, buys another 27 shares, making him the major shareholder, leaving Captain John Richards with 10 shares.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954) – Tuesday 2 September 1890.

Cape Hawke:  Arrivals:  August 31, ‘Trident’ (s.) ‘Scout’ (s.) at 9 am: ‘Annie’ and ‘Flora Bell’, ketches, at 8.45 am.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954) – Saturday 7 January 1893

FOR SALE:  Ketches ‘Flora Bell’ and ‘Dewdrop’.  For particulars apply on board; or W.S. CLARKE and SON, Circular Quay.

Daily Commercial News and Shipping List (Sydney (NSW: 18491 – 1954)  Monday 23 October 1893.

The ketch ‘Flora Bell’ has been purchased by Messrs. Jouve and Co.  She is now at Cape Hawke, loading timber for Noumea.

Evening News (Sydney, NSW:  1869 – 1931) – Wednesday 1 November 1893.

The ‘Flora Bell’ left Cape Hawke yesterday for Noumea.

The Australian Register of British Ships, 1878.  Records 23/11/1893.

The ‘Flora Bell’:  Sold to Foreigners (French subjects) at Noumea, New Caledonia.  Certificate of Registry delivered and cancelled.

Evening News ( Sydney, NSW 1869  – 1931) – Wednesday 1 November 1893.

The ‘Flora Bell’ arrived at Noumea from Sydney on the 12th instant.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW: 1876 – 1954) – Tuesday 28 1893

‘Flora Bell’, ketch, arrived at Noumea on the 12th inst. from Sydney via Cape Hawke.

We would like to thank Chris Borough for some information for this report.

(The Historical Society has a photo said to be the ‘Florabelle” slipped at Miles shipyard c. 1892.  We now believe this is likely to be the ‘Flora Bell’)







One thought on “‘FLORA BELL’ – Ship owned by John Wright

  1. Good post indeed. Couple of things might be worth considering.
    John Wright ended up with 54 shares after buying from 27 shares from Edward Johnstone and 10 shares still remained with John Richards so perhaps majority shareholder would best describe John Wright’s ownership.

    I believe the photograph of the Florabelle on its side at the beach at Henry Miles shipyard is actually the Forest Queen. This was the considered opinion of Mori Flapan – naval architect after he studied the photo Henry Miles repaired the Forest Queen. These are from my notes:

    Ninth Owner: Henry Miles (of Forster, Cape Hawke): 1900 – 1901
    Tenth Owner: James Wallace: 1901 – 1907
    Eleventh Owner: Capt Francis Joseph Simon 1907 – 1946

    After a successful career of almost 20 years trading along the NSW Coast she was caught in easterly gale on 11th March 1894 and lost her sails. She drifted helplessly but the Master (Andrew Malcolm) and Mate/Owner (Alexander Cunningham) managed to beach her on small beach just south of Charlottes Head (at the northern end of Boomerang Beach approximately 152.6°E 32.3°S). The crew walked overland to Cape Hawke (Forster) to get assistance but all efforts to re-float her were unsuccessful and the crew returned to Sydney in the steamer Kingsley.

    On 16th April 1894 the underwriters instructed that the vessel be sold by auction:
    The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 16 April 1894
    WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18. at the CITY MART, at 11 o’clock, the Wreck of Ketch FOREST QUEEN, as she lies on the beach about 7 miles from Cape Hawke.
    Hull, Masts, Spars, and Rigging can be saved.
    FRASER and CO. will sell by auction as above. Particulars at sale.

    The wreck of the Forest Queen was sold for £10 to Mr. Mitchell.
    The Registry was closed on 17th April 1894.

    The Register of British Shipping shows that the next owner was Mary Mitchell (wife of William Mitchell of Forster, Cape Hawke) who arranged for the vessel to be floated off and taken to Forster. The following report describes the re-floating:
    The Sydney Morning Herald Friday 25 May 1894
    Forster reports yesterday the ketch Forest Queen, which was ashore near here some time back, was successfully floated off to-day, and sailed round here. She is now inside safe.

    By August 1894 she was re-registered (41/1894) and had been brought back into service; by September was regularly working the NSW North Coast.

    Early the following year she was purchased by Henry Miles, shipbuilder of Forster; the purchase was most likely on behalf of the Partnership of Miles Bros. (Henry, Thomas and Josiah Miles). In 1900 she was sold to James Wallace and 12 months later to Captain Francis Joseph Simon (Captain Frank Simon).

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