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French three-masted barque VINCENNES aground on Manly Beach, Sydney

Date: 1906
Medium: Emulsion on glass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Mr and Mrs Glassford
Object Name: Glass plate negative
Object No: ANMS1092[115]

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    SignificanceThe Hall photographic collection provides an important pictorial record of recreational boating in Sydney Harbour from the 1890s to the 1930s. The collection documents the lively sailing scene in Sydney during this period and features images of vessels ranging from large racing and cruising yachts to the great array of skiffs and the emerging technologies of motorboats. Images of many iconic vessels are also included in this visual record.
    HistoryOn the evening of 24 May 1906 the 1740 ton, three-masted, steel barque VINCENNES ran aground on Manly Beach. At the time of the incident, the vessel was on a voyage from Yokohama, Japan, to Sydney with 600 tons of sand ballast on board.

    The vessel had been off Sydney Heads during the afternoon and after failing to raise a pilot (by the customary burning of blue flares) the Captain decided to enter the Heads. In less than favourable conditions with mounting seas and an easterly gale, Captain Levallant appeared to mistake the break in the cliffs at Manly for the entrance to Port Jackson and sailed the vessel into the breakers on Manly Beach. As the seas drove the vessel towards the shore the crew burned distress flares and dropped the vessel's anchors. The barque came ashore stern first between Pine and Carlton Streets where it then turned broadside to the beach.

    Local resident Mr Woods observed the ship almost ashore on Manly Beach with three red lights hoisted in its rigging and alerted the local authorities. The pilot steamer CAPTAIN COOK along with the Watson Bay Lifeboat arrived shortly afterwards but due to VINCENNES' proximity to the shore could not render assistance. Taking advantage of a break in the weather the VINCENNES' crew did manage to launch a ship's boat and three of the crew made for the shore where they landed with considerable difficulty assisted by the growing crowd of spectators. Over the next few hours as the weather moderated the vessel bedded into the beach becoming more stable and the risk to the crew diminished.

    According to the local newspapers, the scene then took on a carnival atmosphere. Members of the Manly Town Band played the French crew a rendition of the French National Anthem and thousands of Sydneysiders travelled to Manly to view the stranded ship.

    The spectacle of such a large vessel ashore on one of Sydney's most popular esplanades created such a demand for Sydney to Manly ferries that not only did additional services have to be put on but on Sunday 27 May the crush of spectators was so great that the turnstiles at Sydney Cove and Manly had to be abandoned. For nine days whilst salvage crews attempted to save the ship, deckchairs were hired out on the beach and beach amusements such as pony rides established. The Manly Hospital held a fete with nurses serving afternoon tea to the sightseers and local photographers, including Charles Kerry and Harry Bradley, rushed to the scene.

    After several attempts and the dumping of hundreds of tons of ballast on 3 June 1906, the VINCENNES was successfully refloated, towed off Manly Beach and taken around to Neutral Bay.
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