Edwin Fox Hull and Anchor Windlass

Dunbar Wharf, PICTON


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At Dunbar Wharf in Picton is the timber hull of the Edwin Fox, one of the world's oldest surviving ships. The hull is all that remains of the fully rigged sailing ship designed in England and built at Calcutta, India, in 1853. Built to the pattern of a series of ships commissioned by the East India Company, only the hull and remnants of the lower deck of the Edwin Fox remain. The main deck has been completely destroyed. Constructed from high-quality teak, the hull of the vessel is based around a keel that runs the full length of the ship. Its timber frame is strengthened by hand forged iron braces ('knees') and two 'sister' keelsons that lie on either side of the central keel. Remnants of two of the ship's original three masts remain. The anchor windlass, originally located in the bow of the ship, has survived. It is currently displayed at the rear of the museum adjacent to the Edwin Fox. The ship travelled on her maiden voyage from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to London carrying a cargo of tea. Following classification in London recorded in Lloyd's Shipping Register, the Edwin Fox was purchased by ship-owner Duncan Dunbar. She was immediately chartered to the British Government, to carry stores and troops during the Crimean War, making Dunbar a net profit of £8000. After serving three years as a cargo ship the Edwin Fox was commissioned by the British Government to deport convicts to Fremantle in Western Australia. Deporting convicts 'not so much for their own good, but for their country's health', the ship made five journeys to Australia until Dunbar's death in 1862. Under new ownership, the Edwin Fox reverted to use as a cargo ship until 1873 when she was charted by the England-based trading company Shaw, Savill and Co. to carry immigrants to New Zealand. On her first voyage the ship ran into a gale just outside the English Channel. The ship's doctor was impaled on a metal spike and killed, and the passengers were forced to operate the pumps as the crew was incapacitated by alcohol. Towed to safety by the American steamer Copernicus, the ship was repaired and arrived safely in New Zealand after a 114 day voyage. The Edwin Fox made three further trips to New Zealand carrying up to 240 immigrants at a time. The cramped conditions and poor food made the voyages hazardous and a number of passengers died during the long journeys. When the rise of the fast steam ship and a world wide depression in the 1880s caused a slackening in demand for immigrant sailing ships, the Edwin Fox was converted into a refrigerated storage ship in 1885. Pioneered by the Shaw, Savill and Co. in 1882, the use of refrigeration ships transformed the New Zealand economy by making it possible to transport fresh meat and dairy products to European markets. The Edwin Fox catered to meat works in the South Island of New Zealand until 1897 when she was transferred to Picton. The 44 year-old ship was securely anchored and used as accommodation by meat work employees and a standby crew. From 1905 until the mid-1950s the vessel served as a coal hulk, and became increasingly dilapidated. In 1965 the newly formed Edwin Fox Restoration Society purchased the remains of the ship for one shilling. In 1967 she was moved to Shakespeare Bay where she remained for 20 years, a target for vandals and scavengers. It was not until 1986 that a more permanent site was found and the restoration and maintenance of the vessel could commence. The Edwin Fox has national and international significance as one of the oldest ships remaining in the world. The vessel has immense historic value for her involvement in events that shaped the history of England, Australia and New Zealand. The Edwin Fox is the last remaining wooden ship that took part in the Crimean War. It is the most intact remaining ship that carried convicts to Australia and immigrant settlers to New Zealand. It serves as a symbol of European colonisation and the establishment of European settlements in New Zealand. The Edwin Fox has considerable technological importance as it embodies the techniques used for over 300 years to construct wooden sailing ships. A unique example of mid-nineteenth-century wooden sailing ship construction, the vessel is an important resource for increasing understanding on ship building techniques of the period. As a rare remaining example of a once common form of ship, the Edwin Fox has great educational value that is enhanced by the construction of an interpretive museum adjacent to the hull. The Edwin Fox is held in high esteem both nationally and internationally and the historic vessel attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Edwin Fox Hull and Anchor Windlass, Dunbar Wharf, Picton. CC BY-ND 2.0 Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | Claire Cox | 15/02/2019 | Claire Cox
Edwin Fox Hull and Anchor Windlass, Dunbar Wharf, Picton. Image courtesy of www.edwinfoxship.nz | The Edwin Fox Ship and Visitor Centre
Edwin Fox Hull and Anchor Windlass, Dubar Wharf, Picton. CC BY-NC 2.0 Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | Povl Abrahamsen | 26/02/2016 | Povl Abrahamsen
Edwin Fox Hull and Anchor Windlass, Dubar Wharf, Picton. Hold of the Edwin Fox, showing condition of the hull and lines of the ship. Scarph joints can be seen at left. CC BY-SA 3.0 Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | Nickm57 | 24/08/2013 | Nickm57
Edwin Fox Hull and Anchor Windlass, Dunbar Wharf, Picton. Hulk of the Edwin Fox when it was being used by the NZ Refrigerating Co. as a storage hulk in Picton c.1920’s-1930’s. Ref: 1/2-037390-F | Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand
Edwin Fox Hull and Anchor Windlass, Dunbar Wharf, Picton. Image courtesy of www.edwinfoxship.nz | The Edwin Fox Ship and Visitor Centre



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Able to Visit

List Number


Date Entered

12th December 1999

Date of Effect

12th December 1999

City/District Council

Marlborough District


Marlborough Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 3071

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