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This website is developed from the site originally conceived developed & maintained by Marcus Castell and associates. Opinions are those of the various authors of the articles, and are not those of the NZ National Maritime Museum unless specifically noted. Information in this site has been updated to 2002. More information on historic ships (etc) is contained in the MARITIME INDEX website

Registered number: 52729
Displacement: 999 or 1,017 tons
Length: 190 feet
Beam: 33 feet
Draft:  21 feet

1865     June     With a wooden planked hull on iron frames, she was launched by Hall and Company at Aberdeen as yard number 241 for W. O. Young of London.

Reported as being one of the six fast ships built for the Orient Line and initially used as a tea-clipper in the Indian trade.

1867     January     Commanded by Captain Rowland de Steiger.

1874     Owned by Anderson and Company of London and commanded by Captain B. Lodwick

1874     Departed London with emigrants for Australia

1874     July 14     Arrived at Adelaide.

1879     Used to carry coal between Australia and America, returning with a load of timber.

1887     Sold to new owners and used as an immigrant ship between England and Australia. She once completed the voyage from London to Adelaide in a record-breaking time of seventy days.

1899     Gutted by fire in Sydney Harbour, the ship was then purchased by the Westport Coal Company and taken to Dunedin where she was refitted before being towed to Lyttelton and put into service as a coal hulk. The Darra served steamers in the Port of Lyttelton for over fifty years. During this period a community of hulk-keepers with their wives and children lived aboard the coal hulks of Lyttelton Harbour.

1910     circa     J. P. Eames was keeper of Darra, the last of the hulks and once among the finest and fastest of the Orient Company's fleet. Barnes with his wife Mary and three girls, Emily, May and Elsie, lived in roomy, comfortable quarters, and in the big, well-proportioned and beautifully panelled saloon, which was their living room, entertained both guests from the town and members of the crews of vessels alongside which the hulk was lying. If the former were surprised to find that a coaling vessel could be so pleasant, the latter were no doubt more grateful for the hospitality they received.

J. P. Eames with May, Emily, Elsie and crew on board Darra

1950     December 16     The Darra's last moment of glory occurred when she was spruced up and fully rigged to represent the emigrant ship Charlotte Jane for the Canterbury Centennial celebrations. Once the celebrations had been completed the Darra was dismantled, cut down and sold as scrap.

Above and below:
Darra decked out as the Charlotte Jane for the Centennial celebrations of 1950.

1951     Beached at Quail Island in Lyttelton Harbour

1953     April     An attempt was made to destroy the historic, 98 year old vessel, by the New Zealand Army attempting to blow her up. The only damage sustained was a blown out portion of one side.

Army personnel laying explosives on the Darra in 1953

Circa 1980, three views by James Turner. Enlarged copies open in a new browser window.

Circa 1980, four views by James Turner. Enlarged copies open in a new browser window.

Above and below: photographed in 1988.

The Darra in 1990 with the Frank Guy behind her

The local post stamp that was produced for the "Birdpex'90" stamp exhibition held in Christchurch in 1990.  One of the field trips involved a launch trip to Quail Island and as a souvenir of this trip a local post sheet was issued.

Below: The Oak dining table from the Darra's saloon, now in the Lyttelton Museum.


Thanks to James Turner, the Lyttelton Museum, Steven McLachlan (specialist in Maritime Covers) and Marcus Castell. Thanks to Liz Wright for the photograph of J. P. Eames, family and crew. Links open in a new browser window.

This page is part of the The Wrecks and Hulks of Lyttelton Harbour section of the
New Zealand Maritime Record
web site.

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NZ National Maritime Museum

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