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SS CHEVIOT

Location

Cheviot Beach, Point Nepean

VHR Number

S113

Date lost

20/10/1887

Year of construction

1870

Official number

63648

Statement of Significance

The Cheviot is historically significant as a typical example of a coastal trading passenger and cargo steamship. It has the tragic distinction of being one of Victoria's worst shipwrecks with 35 lives lost, and is the worst shipwreck to have occurred at Port Phillip Heads in terms of loss of life.

Physical Description  
Rig Schooner
Hull Details Schooner-rigged; elliptical stern; clincher built; 1deck; 4 bulkheads 4; double-bottomed after and under 5engine room
Propulsion Steam - Screw
Number of Masts 2
Length / Breadth / Depth 230.2 Feet / 32.2 Feet / 17.5 Feet
History  
Builder C. Mitchell & Co
Built Date 1870
Built Port / Country Low Walker, Newcastle / England
Registration Number No. 39 of 1876
Registration Port / Country Melbourne / Australia
Former Details of Registration No. 17 of 1870
Details
Loss of propeller while on outer edge of Rip made the vessel unmanageable. Sails were set immediately but it drifted ashore about 9 pm. Broke in two before going to pieces. Queenscliff lifeboat unable to get out through Heads, due to the appalling weather. A rocket life-line and boatswain's chair were the means by which 24 passengers and crew were saved. Some victims drowned, trapped in the fore cabin; others battered to death on rocks; 8 buried in Quarantine Station cemetery. Captain exonerated by Steam Navigation Board, praised for attempts to save vessel and those onboard. Cheviot bought for inter-colonial passenger and coal-carrying trade in 1876. Had recently been re-classed A1 by Lloyd's after boilers strengthened, engines overhauled and new propeller fitted. Had earlier been in trouble with breakdowns and accidents. Valued at 20-25,000 pounds, insured for 10,000 pounds. The number of passengers and crew differs in the various reports.
Voyage Details  
Date Lost 20/10/1887
Voyage from Melbourne to Sydney
Cargo
Metals, wine, foodstuffs, sundries, valued at 8000 pounds
Owner W. Howard Smith & Sons Ltd
Master of Vessel Capt. Thomas B. Richardson
Weather conditions
Night; SW gale
Cause of Loss
Drifted ashore after propellor fell off or blade hit floating wreckage
Further Details  
Number of Passengers 33
Comments on Passenger
There may have been an extra two passengers who boarded at the last minute, so the passenger numbers may be 33-35, and consequently the death toll may be 35-37 lives lost.
Number of Crew Members 36