Heritage VIC




Massacre Bay, Peterborough

VHR Number


Date lost


Year of construction


Official number


Statement of Significance

Iron ship building revolutionised the shipbuilding industry and dramatically altered the structure, organisation and traditional distribution of shipbuilding yards. Iron as a material was used for a very short space of time, steel took over by the turn of the century. Iron ships had been built in response to the demand by shippers for strength, lightness, stowage, capacity, safety, durability and speed as well as economy in repairs. Iron hulls presented special problems because of the chemical factors bringing about corrosion and fouling the outer hull in marine environments and the corrosion and damage from the chemical make up of the cargoes. Iron as a hull material created a new set of problems for navigation as compasses were thrown out by the magnetic field created by the hull itself.

Physical Description  
Construction Material Iron
Rig Barque
Propulsion Sail
Number of Masts 4
Length / Breadth / Depth 275.2 Feet / 41.6 Feet / 23.9 Feet
Builder Russell & Co
Built Date 1886
Built Port / Country Greenock / Scotland
Registration Port / Country Glasgow / Scotland
The four masted barque Falls of Halladale was 102 days out from New York when it ran ashore at Peterborough at 3 am on the morning of 14th November 1908. Within minutes, water poured into the holds and the crew safely disembarked and rowed for three hours until they beached at the Bay of Islands. The vessel grounded in fair weather on an ENE tack. A mist over the land created an optical illusion of a distant horizon, and the crew thought the ship was 10 miles off the coast when it was less than one mile away, heading for the rocks. When the danger was discovered, it was too late. The anchors could not be let go in time, and the ship had no headway to change tack. The Falls of Halladale struck heavily amidships, about 200 yards from shore. Soon after abandoning the ship, the crew found the stern awash with breakers sweeping over the decks as far as the foremast. The vessel lay in a small bay just to the west of Peterborough with its sails set, and provided a spectacle for sightseers. Two salvage ventures proved to be financial disasters. The captain of the Falls of Halladale was found guilty of a gross act of misconduct in that he carelessly navigated the vessel. His certificate was suspended for six months.
Voyage Details  
Date Lost 14/11/1908
Voyage from New York to Melbourne
2800 tons of cargo valued at 50,000 pounds printing paper, wood, iron, hardware, wire, lamp goods, plumbing metal, sewing machines, pumps material, carriage woodwork, clocks, desks, canned fish, turps, domestic goods, benzine, lubricating oil, resin, glucose, plaster, tar, lime, slate, stationery, drug sundaries, lumber, timber, carpet sweepers, shade rollers, screens, wheels, agricultural implements, screws, stoves and sundries.
Owner T. Laws & Co.
Master of Vessel Capt. D.W. Thomson
Weather conditions
Hazy, misty conditions creating an optical illusion that land was some distance away
Cause of Loss
Careless navigation, hazy weather
Further Details  
Number of Passengers 0
Number of Crew Members 29
Comments on Crew Members
T. Person - chief officer,T.Griffen, second - officer, W.D.Parker- steward, A.Armstrong - cook, G.McKenzie - boatswain, R.Nelson, sail - maker, A.Shand - carpenter Apprentices J.Walker, J.Allen, R.Kerr, L.Pussie, J.Harvey, C.Bailey A.B s P.Bramo