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Wreck of the Bayard, Ocean Harbour, South Georgia

The Bayard is a three masted iron hulled sailing ship built in Liverpool in 1864 and wrecked at South Georgia in 1911. Towards the end of her life she was being used as a coaling ship for a whaling station. On the 6th of June 1911, she broke free from her moorings on the north side of Ocean Harbour on the coaling pier. She was blown across the harbour by a northerly gale where she was holed and sank in 3m of water, she remains in almost the exact position and attitude today as the day when she was sunk.

The wooden decks have rotted away and become colonized by tussock grass, blue-eyed shags nest amongst  the tussock grass and can be seen on the deck.

Picture copyright Ulf Gustafsson.


The following was received by email from Tony Robinson concerning the history of the Bayard and one of her crew.

... here is an extract from part of my family history that my cousin prepared a few years ago. It refers to Anthony Oram, who became first mate of the Bayard in 1880:

Anthony Oram was Rebecca’s brother, and my great grandfather. He was the ninth and final child, born on 24th February 1852, at 157 Rotherhithe Street, in Rotherhithe. (By 2001 the property had been converted to 6 flats, oddly named ‘Octagon Court’ SE 16 5QT)

Anthony was not registered until April 1st, so appeared in the register for the June quarter of 1852. His mother, Eliza, registered him and made her mark on the certificate, as she was unable to write.

In 1861 he was 9 years old, living at 157 Rotherhithe Street with his father, his mother, four of his sisters and his three brothers.

On leaving school, he was apprenticed to a sail maker. He went to sea, and sailed 8 times on the India route.

He became a ship’s officer and obtained his First Mate’s certificate on September 1st 1875, at the age of 23.

At this time he was living at 37, Lower Queen St, Rotherhithe. Perhaps he shared the house with siblings James, Rebecca and Harriet when he was not at sea. They were in Lower Queen Street in 1871.

His first Mate Certificate reads:

‘By the Lords of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade  Certificate of Competency As FIRST MATE
To Anthony Oram
Whereas it has been reported to us that you have been found Duly qualified to fulfil the duties of First Mate in the Merchant Service we do hereby in pursuance of the Merchant Shipping Act 1854 grant you this Certificate of Competency.
By Order of the Board of Trade
This First day of September 1875
Registered at the Office of the Registrar general of Shipping and Seamen.’


In addition to the actual Certificate he received the following grievous warning!

‘Certificate 10533.
Address of Owner: 37, Lower Queen St, Rotherhithe S.E.
Date and Place of Birth: 1852 Rotherhithe Surrey
Signature……… Anthony Oram
This certificate is given upon an Ordinary Examination passed at London on the thirty first day of August 1875

Every person who makes or procures to be made, or assists in making any false Representation for the Purpose of obtaining for himself or for any other Person a Certificate either of Competency or Service, or who forges, assists in forging or procures to be forged, or fraudulently alters or assists in fraudulently altering or procures to be fraudulently altered, any such Certificate or any Official Copy of any such Certificate or who fraudulently makes use of any such Certificate or any Copy of any such Certificate which is forged, altered, cancelled, suspended, or to which he is not justly entitled, or who fraudulently lends his Certificate to or allows the same to be used by any other person, shall for each offence be deemed guilty of a Misdemeanour and may be summarily punished by imprisonment with or without hard labour for a period not exceeding six months, or by a penalty not exceeding £100, and any Master or Mate who fails to deliver up a Certificate which has been cancelled or suspended is liable to a penalty not exceeding £50.

NB Any person other than the owner thereof becoming possessed of this Certificate is required to transmit it forthwith to the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, Adelaide Place, London Bridge.

Issued at the PORT of London on the 3rd day of September 1875.

FA Shaw’


Well, quite a mouthful! Summarised as ‘Misuse at your peril!’

The following year on Dec 12th 1876, he was made a ‘Freeman of the Company of Watermen & Lightermen of The River Thames’.

In 1880, on 5th January, Anthony was in the Bay of Bengal. He was on his last journey to India and the ship was becalmed in the bay. While waiting for the wind, he rowed out with some of his apprentices and caught a large turtle. The shell was brought home and later made into a fire screen.

[In the 1940s & 50’s it was kept at ‘Littleholme’, The Drive, Longfield, Kent, where his daughter, Adelaide, lived; In the 1960’s, 1970’s and part of the 1980’s it was at ‘Yarraglen’, Pescot Avenue, where she moved after the death of her husband, and on the sale of her house the shell went to Adelaide’s daughter, Vera, at Ross Lyn, Pescot Avenue.]

On that particular voyage, Anthony was on the ‘Bayard’.

“The Bayard” The Bayard was a three masted iron sailing ship of 1319 tons. Each mast carried a topmast and a topgallant mast – square rigged on all masts. Vernon Shipbuilders of Liverpool built it in 1864 for Foley & Co. and it was sold to L. Young and Co. for trading to and from India. It was still on this route in 1880, when it became becalmed in the Bay of Bengal. It was re-rigged as a “Barque” in 1886. The yardarms were removed from the mizzen (after) mast, and replaced with fore and aft sails. In 1900 it was sold to the Norwegians, and registered under the Norwegian flag at Porsgrund by Acties Fjord (L.Gundersen) [Porsgrund is on SE coast] It was finally removed from the Lloyds Register in 1911.

I imagine that the ship was sailing between India, or possibly China, and London. Information that I have found on the web seemed to indicate that it was trading into Liverpool where it was built but I am sure that during Anthony Oram's time aboard it would have been to London as his home was always in Rotherhithe close to the docks.

Until I came across your photos whilst casually searching for any more about the Bayard we new no more than this last paragraph. I was absolutely amazed to see that it still existed.

Here is the shell which I now have as my mother, Vera Robinson, sadly passed away at the end of October 2011. Also you can seethe inscription from the rear: "Caught in the bay of Bengal 5th January 1880 by Anthony Oram Ship Bayard".

Tony Robinson February 2012

These are pictures from a trip to Antarctica in the summer of 2010 - 2011 for the purpose of researching former whaling stations and companies by Ulf Gustafsson of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

   

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