RETURN to an Order of the honorable the Legislative Assembly, dated 2 November 1858, That there be laid upon the Table of the House, -
"Copies of all Correspondence and Papers connected with the removal of the Signal Staff at Newcastle to its present position at Nobby's" (Mr. Hodgson)
Extract from the Report of the Chairman of the Steam Navigation Board, and of the Harbour Master of Sydney, on the Tour of Inspection made by them to the Port of Newcastle
Having on the evening of Thursday, the 8th instant, proceeded to Newcastle, and having, on our arrival there, made a careful inspection of the Light House, Buoys, Beacons, Signal Station, Wharfs, &c., and also inquired into the manner in which the Harbour Master's Department is conducted, and the system on which the Pilots' Duties are carried out, - we propose, first, to submit a Report of the result of our inquiries and inspection, and then to make such recommendations for the consideration of the Board as the several matters which come under our notice seemed to warrant.
Although it was arranged that the Member for Newcastle, Dr. Bowker, should meet us there on our arrival, and point out the several subjects requiring our most immediate attention, that gentleman was unavoidably prevented from attending, but in his absence we availed ourselves of the assistance of the Sub-Collector of customs, Mr. Bolton, an officer who, by his long residence at that port and local experience, was, in conjunction with the Harbour Master, Captain Livingstone, able to afford us much information and assistance.
THE SIGNAL STATION
A new Signal Master's house has been lately erected in the vicinity of the position of the old coal Beacon, at an expense of about £1,200, and the signals continue to be made from this hill as heretofore.
This establishment was in tolerable order, but the person in charge - an old servant of the Government - appeared to us to be almost physically incapacitated by age and infirmity from performing the duty devolving upon him.
We advise that the Signal Station, as at present existing, be abolished, and that the Flag staff be moved, or, if not capable of removal, another be erected on Nobby's Island, and placed in charge of the Principal Light Keeper, who might be allowed an additional salary of £20 to perform the duties now performed by the Signal Master, which would not only cause a saving to the Government of one hundred pounds a year, but would also, from its position, be more available for vessels at sea, and at the same time be more distinctly visible in the town.
Having disposed of the Signal Station, we would advise that the house lately erected there be made the residence of the Harbour Master, and that the old buildings in its vicinity - a portion of which is now occupied by the late Shipping Master and boats' crews- be devoted to the accommodation of one of the Pilots, and about six of the men employed in the boats. This arrangement would make a Pilot and crew always available in case of emergency, and would enable a good look out to be kept, instead of depending altogether on the Signal man for information.
We would also recommend that, either at this Station or at the Light House, a strict watch be kept, by both night and day, by the Pilots or their crews; and that regulations for their guidance be framed and printed on conspicuous placards, and, as in Sydney, furnished to each of the Pilots - as also to be exhibited at the Custom House and Harbour Master's Office,
H. H. Browne, chairman.
John Crook Harbour Master (Sydney)
EXTRACT from a Letter from THE UNDERSECRETARY TO THE TREASURY to the HARBOUR MASTER. Dated 27 August 1858
In acknowledging the receipt of your letter of the 16th ultimo, enclosing the Report of the Chairman of the Steam Navigation and Pilot board, and of yourself, upon the Harbour Department of the Port of Newcastle, I have the honor to inform you that the Honorable the Treasurer, having maturely considered the Report in question, now directs that the following recommendations, therein made, be carried out with as little delay as possible viz:
1. That the Signal Stations as at present existing be abolished, and that the Flagstaff be moved, or, if not capable or removal, another be erected on Nobby's Island, and placed in charge of the Principal Light Keeper.
2. That the house lately erected at the Signal Station be made the residence of the Harbour Master, and that the old buildings in its vicinity - a portion of which is now occupied by the late Shipping Master and boats' crews - be devoted to the accommodation of one of the Pilots, and about six of the men employed in the boats.
3. That, either at the Signal Station or at the Light House, a strict watch be kept, night and day, by the Pilots or their crews; and that regulations for their guidance be framed and printed on conspicuous placards, and, as in Sydney, furnished to each of the Pilots- as also to be exhibited at the custom House and Harbour Master's Office.
THE HARBOUR MASTER SYDNEY to THE HARBOUR MASTER NEWCASTLE
The Port Office Sydney
3 September 1858
The Harbour Master, Newcastle
Sir, I am directed by the Steam Navigation and Pilot board to request that you will have the flag-staff removed as soon as possible, and at such a time as will be least inconvenient to the shipping interest
I have &c., John Crook, Harbour Master. (Sydney)
EXTRACT of a Letter from Harbour Master, Newcastle, respecting removal of Flag-staff.
Harbour Master's Office, Newcastle 4 September 1858
The Harbour Master, Sydney,
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of yesterday's date, requesting the flag-staff to be removed to Nobby's, which I shall lose no time to accomplish, or so soon as I can obtain the means of doing so. At present I am entirely without means, without coming under obligations, to private individuals, which I am much averse to. I have only 1 block (14-in. treble,), neither pick nor shovel, or any means of transit for the mast, which can only be speedily accomplished by dray, and I have no authority to hire any; to attempt the removal by manual labour would be attended wit much loss of time.
I have inspected and fixed on a site for the mast on Nobby; the present one and all attached are in good condition; the lower mast is iron bark, about 38 feet long by 16 inches diameter.
David T. Allan, Harbour Master.
THE HARBOUR MASTER, SYDNEY, to THE HARBOUR MASTER, NEWCASTLE
The Port Office, Sydney 6 September 1858
The Harbour Master, Newcastle,
In reply to your letter respecting the removal of the Flag-staff, I am directed by the Steam, Navigation and Pilot board to inform you, that you are authorized to incur whatever expense may be necessary, either in the hiring of a dray or the purchase of materials, for the purpose; and to request that you will forward, when the removal is completed, a report of the same, and of the expenses incurred.
I have &c., John Crook, Harbour Master
(3) TO THE HONORABLE THE PILOT BOARD, SYDNEY
We, the undersigned Ship owners, Merchants, Agents, & c., Masters, of Vessels, hearing that the Pilot Board propose the removal of the present Flag-staff to Nobby's, respectfully beg to represent:
1st. That such removal, instead of a benefit, will be attended with considerable inconvenience and danger to the seafaring community.
2nd. That the removal to Nobby's is too far to leeward when vessels are running for Newcastle, especially when the winds are from the south to west. That this being the only time the signals are at all serviceable, such removal as the one contemplated will be entirely useless for all practical purposes, as light vessels upon making the signals would then be too far to leeward to recover themselves.
3rd. That, should it be deemed necessary and advisable for your Honorable Board to remove the present Signal-staff at all, that it be removed farther to the south than any farther to the north.
ANGUS CAMPBELL, Master of "H. M. Warfield"
WILLIAM FIRTH, "Viceroy"
PETER SLATER, "Fayaway"
W. & J DONALDSON, Ship owners
W.T. BOYCE, Agent for Underwriters, Sydney and Melbourne
BINGLE & SON Lloyd's Agents
HENRY S. BLAY Agent
HENRY G. COLE, Master Mariner
EDWARD HILL, Master and Owner of "Martha Ellen"
ROBT. SIMMONS, Master of Schooner "Athol"
GEO. MITCHELL U.S. Vice-Consul
ALEXR. DUGUID. Master of Schooner "Ariel"
JOHN JOHNSTON, Master of Brig "Janet"
JAMES DONALDSON, Coal Merchant
GEORGE BERNER, Agent WM.
HENRY. WHYTE. Agent and Ship owner
W.F. WEATHERILL, Master Mariner and Surveyor
THE HARBOUR MASTER to MESSRS A. CAMPBELL, AND OTHERS
The Port Office, Sydney
25 September 1858
MESSRS ANGUS CAMPBELL, WILLIAM FIRTH, and the other Petitioners
In reply to your petition of the 9th instant, respecting the proposed removal of the Flag staff to Nobby's Head, I have the honor, by direction of the Steam Navigation and Pilot Board, to inform you that the board have fully considered the reasons urged against the removal in question; and further, that they have taken the opportunity of examining the masters of vessels who have been before them for certificates of competency upon the subject, and, from the answers given by a considerable number, the Board do not consider that the objections made by the petitioners are valid.
Being thus supported in their own practical opinion, in which I also fully concur, the Board see no reason why they should depart from their original recommendation, that the Flag-staff should be removed to Nobby's Head.
I Have &c., John Crook, Harbour Master
THE HARBOUR MASTER, SYDNEY to THE HARBOUR MASTER, NEWCASTLE
The Port Office, Sydney
25 September 1858
The Harbour Master, Newcastle
I have the honor, by direction of the Steam Navigation and Pilot Board, to request that you will be good enough to proceed forthwith with the removal of the Flag-staff to Nobby's Head
I have &c., John Crook (Sydney)
Mr. S. Wright to THE SECRETARY FOR LANDS AND PUBLIC WORKS
Chamber of Commerce Newcastle
29 September 1858
THE HONORABLE THE SECRETARY FOR LANDS AND PUBLIC WORKS, SYDNEY
I am instructed by the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce to bring under your notice the intention of the government to remove forthwith the Flag-staff of this port from its present position, and place it upon Nobby's, near the Light House, and to assign its reasons against such removal.
In the first place, - If the Flag-staff be placed upon Nobby's it will be too far to the northward for vessels making for the port from the southward, with a strong and fair wind, for the Masters to see the tide signals in time to stand off, if so required, and in hazy weather, with a heavy swell of the sea on, vessels would get too far to leeward before the signals could possible be seen in time to enable them to clear Point Stephens, and would consequently be placed in great danger of being wrecked, unless the wind at the time should be from the west (going northward till it comes) to south-south-east.
Secondly - The distance of the Nobby's is too far off for the flags to be distinguished with the naked eye, more especially so during the winter months, when the sun is more to the northward then, in the fore part of the day, even with the aid of a telescope, it is attended with much difficulty. It is also a matter of much importance to the inhabitants and traveling community at Newcastle, as well as to the Pilot Establishment, that every facility should be afforded in giving timely notice of the approach of vessels to the port, more especially the steamers.
Thirdly - That should the flag-staff be removed without due notice being given, (at least three months) through the public papers, to masters of vessels coming to this port; the sailing directions would be so changed as to endanger their vessels before such alteration would be discovered, more particularly so with masters of vessels who are strangers to the port. I am there fore requested further to state, that, in the opinion of this chamber, which is supported in its views by masters of vessels who for many years have been well acquainted with the navigation of this port, that instead of removing the Flag-staff more to the northward it ought to be more to the southward where the tide signals could be seen much earlier from vessels approaching the port than at present, as it would then afford ample space to stand off and on without danger, till the proper time of the tide for entering the port space to stand off and on without danger, will the proper time of the tide for entering the port
The Chamber begs to solicit that further inquiry on the part of Government will be made, and the objections herein stated by duly considered, before such contemplated removal of said Flag-staff from its present position be carried out.
I have & C., S. Wright. Hon. Secretary.
P. MACAULIFFE ESQ., to THE STEAM NAVIGATION AND PILOT BOARD
Newcastle 30 September 1858
Steam Navigation and Pilot board, Port Office, Sydney
Instructed by the Committee appointed here in public meeting in reference to the affairs of this Port, I have the honor to state, that they have been informed that it is the intention of your Board to remove the Signal Station at this port from its present position to Nobby's Peninsula; and that as the Committee has good reason to believe that such removal would prevent the signals from being perceptible to vessels approaching the harbour from the southward, under the important, conditions in which they are now found most useful, until too late to be availed of - I am desired to beg the favour of your causing the removal to be suspended, until the Committee can supply your Board with that further information or evidence which the Committee feel assured it would be your desire to have under the grave circumstances here mentioned
I have & c., P. Macauliffe, Secretary
P. MACAULIFFE, ESQ., to THE MINISTER FOR FINANCE AND TRADE.
Newcastle 30 September 1858
THE HONORABLE THE MINISTER FOR FINANCE AND TRADE, Sydney
Instructed by the Committee appointed here in public meeting in reference to the affairs of this port, I have the honor to state, that they are informed that it is the intention of the Steam Navigation and Pilot Board to remove the Signal Station at this harbour from its present position to Nobby's Peninsula; and that as such removal would seriously impair the utility of the signals to vessels approaching here form the southward with a strong wind (to which they are now of greatest importance), by preventing them from being perceptible until the vessels were too far to leeward, when probably the signals would be intended to indicate that the port could not then be entered, - I am desired to beg that the removal may be suspended, until at least the Committee can furnish the Board with further information or evidence on the subject, to which effect, as in your Department, I am instructed to request the favour of your interference.
I have & c., P. Macauliffe, Secretary.
THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY to P. MACAULIFFE, ESQ.,
The Treasury, New South Wales, 5 October 1858
P. Macauliffe, Esq., Newcastle
I am directed by the Honorable the Treasurer to inform you, that upon the receipt of your letter of the 30th ultimo, upon the subject of the contemplated removal of the Signal Station at Newcastle, it was without delay referred to the Steam Navigation and Pilot Board. Their Report was laid before Mr. Campbell this morning, and returned for further evidence So soon as the Report in question shall have been completed, you will be again communicated with upon the subject. I have, & c., Henry Lane (4)
THE HARBOUR MASTER to THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
The Port Office, Sydney, 2 October 1858
THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
With reference to the enclosed communication respecting the removal of the Flag-staff at Newcastle to Nobby's Head, I have the honor, by direction of the Steam Navigation and Pilot board, to forward, for the information of the Honorable the Treasurer, a copy of a letter which has been addressed to certain petitioners upon the subject, and to request that you will be good enough to intimate to that Minister that the Board have examined masters of vessels (whose names are in the margin hereof) in the coasting trade, and who are therefore likely to be well acquainted with the Port of Newcastle, upon the question.
Eight of the eleven individuals mentioned are in favor of the removal of the flag-staff to Nobby's, two opposed to it, and one doubtful upon the subject, - and, in the absence of anything to justify the Board in arriving at a different conclusion from that set forth in the letter in reply to the petition, they do not feel inclined to rescind the instruction given to the Harbour Master at Newcastle to remove the Flag-staff.
Should the Honorable the Treasurer, however, consider that there is anything material in the petition now forwarded the Board will have no objection to take additional evidence upon the subject; but their own impression is that Nobby's is the proper place at which the signals ought to be made.
I have & c., John Crook, Harbour Master.
THE HARBOUR MASTER, NEWCASTLE, to THE HARBOUR MASTER, SYDNEY
Harbour Office Newcastle 16 October 1858
The Harbour Master, Sydney
I have the honor to inform you that the Flag-staff was placed on Nobby yesterday; and, according to your instructions, the signals will, on and after Monday, the 18th instant, be hoisted from that place, under the care of Mr. Hannell. I would recommend that the present tide-signals be continued, with this difference, that they should only be hoisted half up to the yard-arm until half flood, then close up until high water, when they are changed to the other yard-arm, and there to remain until half ebb, then again to be lowered half down until low water.
DAVID T. ALLAN
P MACAULIFFE, ESQ., to THE COLONIAL TREASURER
Newcastle 19 October 1858
THE HONORABLE THE COLONIAL TREASURER
Instructed by the committee appointed in public meeting in reference to the affairs of this port, I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your communication of 5th instant, and to express its sense of your courteous attention to the subject of the intended removal of the Signal Station here to Nobbys Peninsula, in reference to which, I am desired to inform you, that - contrary to the tenor of your letter, which the committee understood as conveying a promise that the Station would not be removed until they had been again communicated with - it was removed on Saturday last to Nobby's.
I am desired to add, that in the present position of the subject the committee deems it well to apprize you of the removal, without comment, and to state that a memorial declaratory of opinion on the question will be forwarded to you in a day or two.
I have & c., P. MACAULIFFE, Secretary
THE HARBOUR MASTER to THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
The Port Office, Sydney 22 October 1858
THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURER
In returning the correspondence which has taken place respecting the removal of the Flag-staff at Newcastle, I am directed by the Steam Navigation and Pilot board to state, for the information of the Honorable the Treasurer, that the Board have examined masters of vessels (whose names are mentioned in the margin hereof, in addition to those already reported) upon the subject, all of whom concur in the view taken by the Board, that Nobby's Island is the proper place at which the Flag-staff should be placed.
The Board cannot but regret that the views taken by them in this matter have been misconstrued by the chamber of commerce at Newcastle, as their object in carrying out this measure was the improvement of the port only; and the Board cannot but consider that any practical person who may take the trouble to look at the locality, as marked on a chart, will at once observe that the placing of the Flag-staff on Nobby's Island is an advantage to the shipping generally.
Some of the masters of vessels who were examined by the Board described the position of the yard on the old site, being North and south, as inconvenient, during southerly winds, and spoke of the flags as being too small, to remedy which I have been directed to cause the yard to be placed east and west, and to furnish a new set of larger flags.
Under all the circumstances the Board see no reason to alter the decision arrived at, and as the flag-staff is now removed and reported in working order, the board hope to be able to carry out their other arrangements, as to the placing of the Pilots in the immediate vicinity thereof. I have &c., John Crook, Harbour Master
Approved - It seems to me that the residents at Newcastle, from the proceedings of a meeting as reported in the newspaper of this week, wished to have had the old Flag-staff retained, for giving information of vessels approaching the city, and not because it was of use for the safety of vessels approaching the harbour. This, I think, was not prominently mentioned, or perhaps it might have been provided for; but I hope that as the size of the flags is to be increased, the signals may be seen as distinctly from Nobby's as they were from the old site
If this be so, it may be communicated to the gentlemen, with this report from the Harbour Master. R.C. 23 October.
The Honorable the Minister for Finance and Trade.
The Board did examine several additional witnesses on the subject of the Flag staff at Newcastle, and the result has been already communicated to the Treasurer; and as the opinion of these persons was equally conclusive with that given on a previous occasion, the Board did not consider it necessary to revoke the order formerly given to the Harbour Master for the removal of the staff; neither did they conceive by the Treasurer's minute that such a step was intended, or that any fresh authority was requisite, unless a different opinion were arrived at by the Board on the subject.
The quarters occupied by the signal man are urgently required for the use of the Harbour Master, to enable him to make his Pilots and crews available; and as this could not be done until the staff was removed, the Board did not hesitate to adopt a course which was, in their opinion, for the benefit of the port.
The Harbour Master having, in accordance with his previous instructions, removed the staff, the Board have taken the necessary step to afford the information to the public, and have notified the same in the usual way in the public journals, and forwarded copies of the notices to the various Boards of the neighbouring colonies. H.H. Browne.
THE UNDER-SECRETARY TO THE TREASURER to P. MACAULIFFE, ESQ.,
New South Wales, The Treasury, Sydney 26 October 1858
P. MACAULIFFE, ESQ., NEWCASTLE
Referring to previous correspondence upon the subject of the removal of the Flag-staff at Newcastle to Nobby's Head, I am directed by the Honourable the Treasurer to forward, for the information of the committee appointed in reference to the affairs of the Port of Newcastle, copies of two communications received form the Steam Navigation and Pilot board, by which it will be observed that nearly all the Masters of Coasting vessels examined in reference to the proper site for the flag-staff are in favour of Nobby's Head.
It will, however, be seen that the second objection raised by the committee has been met by increasing the size of the flags to be used at the new Signal Station, so as to make them more distinguishable at Newcastle
Mr. Campbell therefore trusts that the conclusions arrived at by the board, after much inquiry and deliberation, will be considered by the committee as satisfactory
I have &c.,
P. MACAULIFFE, ESQ., to THE COLONIAL TREASURER Newcastle 26 October 1858
THE COLONIAL TREASURER, Sydney
I have the honor to forward to you, under separate cover, by this post, a Memorial from Merchants, Traders, and Masters of Vessels at this port praying against the removal of the signal Station to Nobby's Peninsula, which Memorial was referred to in mine of 19th instant, and the transmission of which has been delayed in order to afford an opportunity to Captains arriving here in the intermin to record their opinion of the propriety of the removal by signing it, which, I am desired by the Committee for which I have the honor to act to state has, without exception, been done by all to whom it was offered for signature, being thirty six Masters of vessels in all. I have & c., P. Macauliffe, SecretaryI have the honor to forward to you, under separate cover, by this post, a Memorial from Merchants, Traders, and Masters of Vessels at this port praying against the removal of the signal Station to Nobby's Peninsula, which Memorial was referred to in mine of 19th instant, and the transmission of which has been delayed in order to afford an opportunity to Captains arriving here in the intermin to record their opinion of the propriety of the removal by signing it, which, I am desired by the Committee for which I have the honor to act to state has, without exception, been done by all to whom it was offered for signature, being thirty six Masters of vessels in all.
I have & c., P. Macauliffe, Secretary
TO THE HONORABLE THE COLONIAL TREASURER
The Memorial of the undersigned, Masters of Vessels, Merchants, and others, trading to or interested in the port of Newcastle: -
That your Memorialists have heard, with regret, that it is proposed to remove the Signal Station at Newcastle from its present position to Nobby's Peninsula.
That your Memorialists, who number amongst them several of the most experienced Masters of vessels frequenting the port, have reasons for believing that such removal would be inexpedient, and dangerous to the safety of vessels trading to Newcastle.
That, without detailing the reasons which enter into the consideration of the subject, it may be sufficient here to state that the position of the Port of Newcastle, the difficulty sometimes of entering it, and the circumstance that its trade is principally with places to the southward of itself, make it important that vessels approaching it from that quarter should, at some distance before making the harbour, be able to discern the tide signals; it being dangerous at certain time, with the wind strong from the south, or south south east, to approach near the port, as at such periods vessels in light ballast trim ( as almost all vessels are which come here for coal), being unable to enter the port, or to clear Point Stephens, are in much danger of being driven on shore in the bight between here and Port Stephens.
That for these reasons which may be more detailed by inquiry, and because that Nobbys is considerably to the northward of the present station, your Memorialists pray that the removal of the signal Station as contemplated, may not be permitted
And your Memorialists will pray
William O'Hagan, "Ann and Maria"
Wm. Henry White
William Murphy, "Herculean"
Alexander Livingstone, Newcastle
George Walker "Jessie"
W.P. Coles, Newcastle
James Wilson "Alex and John"
James Donney, Newcastle
William Belither "Oceana"
Francis Ruwald, "Australia"
John Frazer Paterson "Pakeh"
Robt., C. Knaggs
William Dunn, "Louisa"
George Kenny "Speculant"
Peter Spence "Scotia"
John Gorge Thomas, "Deva"
William Jewell, "Shamrock"
James Menzies, Newcastle
A. Campbell "H.M. Warfield"
William Dow, schooner "Alma"
Chas. Clark, Master Mariner
Alex. Duguid, schooner "Ariel"
John Roberts, "Sword Fish"
Lewis Hodge, 'Saracen"
P.G. Revels, Master "Venus"
Isaac Thomas Wilson, Master Mariner
John Poole, barque "Indus"
J. Lee, schooner "Caroline"
M.S. Rundle "Master Mariner
James Firth, schooner "Gilbert Jamieson"
Chas. C. Beer, Schooner "Zone"
Robert Kelly, schooner "Pacific"
A.E. Prangnall, schooner, 'Sisters"
J.B. Gray, brigantine "Mary Anne'
J.P. Martin, schooner "Mary"
Alexander Barrack "Lion"
T. Her Rusberg, ketch "Aeolae"
George Tully, ship-owner
James Tosh, "Ranger
James Stanton, "Emma Prescott"
W.T. Byrce, Agent for Underwriters, Sydney & Melbourne