Historic ships of the world

Lady Elizabeth 1991

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Hugh Cross visited the hulk in 1991




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Hugh Cross visited the Falkland Islands on the brig Eye of the Wind in 1991.

Hugh then wrote an article on his experiences in The Dog Watch, No.56, 1999:-

“Because of my interest and somewhat heavy commitment to the restoration of the James Craig, I was extremely interested in all iron wrecks.  I therefore contacted the Wrecks Committee from whom permission must be obtained on behalf the “Crown Receiver of Wrecks”, prior to going aboard any of the wrecks.  In part, this is to ensure the integrity of the vessels, but also to protect visitors from the dangers of these now structurally unsound artefacts…. 

"As the eastern extremity of the harbour in Whale Bone Cove, lies the much larger, iron ship, Lady Elizabeth, of 223’ registered length and 1208 gross tons, still sporting her three lower iron masts and her main lower yard, cock-billed as if to load cargo….she lies beached at an angle that gives credit to her powerful but graceful lines, as if she still sails in memory of those many times rounding Cape Horn, or making a fine bowline through the flying fish waters of the trades.

Built in 1879, she was being towed into Port Stanley for repairs in 1913 when she hit Ukranie rock near The Narrows and was forced to remain permanently, being deemed unseaworthy despite remaining afloat.  She, like her older wooden brethren, was used as store ship for 30 years before parting a cable in a gale in 1936 and grounding where she now lies.”

After visiting the hulk of the Garland, an iron ship built in 1865, Hugh went on to say:

“…it would not be long before the Lady Elizabeth would be deteriorating to a similar state, although her larger scantlings would make the time somewhat greater than 14 years.  I could only be thankful for having visited both ships whilst it was possible and that the community based Sydney Maritime Museum (now trading as Sydney Heritage Fleet) had salvaged the James Craig when they did."


The Lady Elizabeth, a derelict at Port Stanley in 1991 Photo: Hugh Cross



Amazingly intact after over 100 years, the lower masts and main yard are still standing. Photo: Hugh Cross.



The deck is still there though walking on it is dangerous. How much longer can the Lady Elizabeth survive without help? Photo: Hugh Cross.



The Future    

So what should be done with this piece of maritime history?  

After having some time to reflect on the possibility of restoring the Lady Elizabeth, Hugh Cross wrote:  

“I have mixed feelings about her potential restoration, or even preservation. Having been part of the Craig story, I know as well as you do how these things necessarily alter the original ethos.  Perhaps we have imposed enough restorations on these few ships, for imposition it feels.  The context of the hulk in Port Stanley is so fitting, that the very most that I would like seen done is to try and slow the deterioration as much as possible, whilst recording as much as possible for a replica and virtual reality reconstruction (that technology is going to blow our minds in the near future).  I would be a very happy participant in the latter approach.  The cost and time in going to the Falklands is amply rewarded, for you are immersed in the original geographical and meteorological conditions that these ships spent much of their time in, quite apart from the vessels themselves.  I really do think of the Falklands as a large time capsule.”