Jun 29, 2009

Epitaph: Frank Garrard 1852-1881

In Christchurch's sadly neglected pioneer cemetery, and close to where the 1863 chapel stood until 1955, lies the second grave of 29 year-old Frank Garrard.

Captain Francis George Garrard
2 March 1852 - 30 April 1881

On his way to Melbourne for his wedding, the youngest captain in the inter-colonial service drowned along with another 130 souls, when his vessel was wrecked on the Otara Reef at Waipapa Point, near Invercargill. The sad tale of their demise is enshrined as one of our nation's most tragic shipping disasters.

A graduate, with distinction, of the Royal Naval School at Greenwich and hero of a subsequent shipwreck, Garrad had been readily promoted from Second Officer of the Hawea to Chief Officer of the steamship Taupo, then Master of Albion and finally to the command of the Union Steamship Company's 17 year-old, trans-Tasman liner Tararua. Third owners of the ill fated 828 ton steamer (below), the Union line employed her on the regular passenger service between Lyttelton, Port Chalmers, Bluff, Hobart and Melbourne.

Found with a pocket watch and a locket containing a portrait of his prospective mother-in-law on his corpse, Frank was intially buried in what would become known as the Tararua Acre, just above the beach where his body had washed ashore. Exhumed on the instruction of his former classmate at the Royal Navy School and brother-in-law, the shipping magnate Sir Joseph Kinsey, Frank Garrard was reburied at Christchurch three weeks after his demise. He lies beneath an imposing monument, the upper part of which is carved to resemble an anchor held fast in rocks.

Special thanks to Sarndra Lees for the grave photo and the inspiration.


Jayne said...

That's a magnificent headstone, he must have been in high regard for that!
How sad to die like he did :(

Love the Hagley Park pic, too!

Canterbury Heritage said...

Sad to say, that in spite of a conspicuously unblemished career, a Court of Inquiry conveniently blamed him for the disaster. That he was reburied under such a magnificent headstone might well appear to reflect the high regard in which he was held by the citizens of Christchurch.

Our maritime courts of inquiry might seem to have acquired an unfortunate record of suppressing knowledge of inconvenient facts; among others the Wahine and Mikhail Lermontov disasters still await the full glare of public scrutiny.

Sarndra said...

Excellent article Mr CH! Makes me feel even more sad for him :-(

Great to get his pic by the way! Certainly adds to the personalising of the article. He looked quite dashing too.

Lyttelton surgeon Donald Campbell and his family died in the Tararua also and were exhumed and buried in Addington. he might be an interesting 'epitaph' item as well, don't know much about him. Very handsome grave they had. http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkynz/3146428205/

Canterbury Heritage said...

A handsome young mariner, with a distinguished career, so looking forward to seeing his bride to be on the wharf at Port Melbourne - it's such a sad story of life tragically cut short.

Such is also the tale of the seven members of the Campbell family from Lyttelton; off to see the world and their Scottish kin, but all hope dashed on a remote reef so close to the beginning of their adventure. The story of the Campbells should be told, but without a photograph of them an article would lack the quality that makes for an interesting epitaph worthy of handing on to future generations. So in the meantime I'll keep looking for more than just an exceptionally fine monument to illustrate their tragic story.

Sarndra said...

This is so true Mr CH. Portraits add the humanity to a story. Thanks for taking the time :-)

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...

If the good captain turned his vessel too soon to the west and thus ran foul of the reef (as was the case) then, despite his unblemished record, the fault does lie with him.