Historical information

The name on the letterhead, “Canning Pierhead North” is the name of the Liverpool Pilot Authority, which was situated in 1883 at Cannon Pier on the River Mersey where ships entered to travel to Liverpool. The logo on the letterhead belongs to the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society.

The letter is addressed to “Mr Peter Carmody, Port Campbell, south coast of Australia”, and reads as follows: “January 21st 1893, Dear Sir, I have the pleasure to forward to you by post herewith a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Thanks, voted to you by the Committee of the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society for your courage and humanity in going out into the surf to rescue the survivors of the crew of the barque “Newfield” which vessel was wrecked near Port Campbell on the 29th of August last. Be kind enough to send a few lines acknowledging receipt of the testimonials. I am Dear Sir, Yours Faithfully, Robert P. J. Simpson, Secretary.”

The medal accompanying the letter is the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society’s “Bramley-Moore medal for saving life at sea 1872”. The Society was formed in 1839. In 1872 Mr John Bramley-Moore donated £500 on condition that the medal have the specific inscription above on its reverse. The Bramley Morre medal was first awarded in 1874 and records show that since that time only one gold medal has been awarded, twenty-two silver medals and seventeen bronze medals, the last being in 1945.

This Bromley-Moore medal was awarded to Peter Carmody for his bravery in saving lives on the Newfield shipwreck.

The Newfield was a three-masted iron and steel barque, built in Dundee, Scotland, in 1889 by Alexander Stephen and Sons. It was owned by the Newfield Ship Company in 1890 and later that year It was registered in Liverpool to owners Brownells and Co.

The Newfield left Sharpness, Scotland, on 28th May 1892 with a crew of 25 under the command of Captain George Scott and on 1st June left Liverpool. She was bound for Brisbane, Australia, with a cargo of 1850 tons of fine rock salt, the main export product of Sharpness.

At about 9pm on 28th August 1892, in heavy weather, Captain Scott sighted, between heavy squalls, the Cape Otway light on the mainland of Victoria but, due to a navigational error (the ship’s chronometers were wrong), he assumed it to be the Cape Wickham light on King Island, some 40 miles south. He altered his course to the north, expecting to enter Bass Strait. The ship was now heading straight for the south west Victorian coast.

At about 1:30am the Newfield ran aground on a reef about 100 yards from shore and one mile east of Curdie’s Inlet, Peterborough. The ship struck heavily three times before grounding on an inner shoal with 6 feet of water in the holds. Rough sea made the job of launching lifeboats very difficult. The first two lifeboats launched by the crew were smashed against the side of the ship and some men were crushed or swept away. The third lifeboat brought eight men to shore. It capsized when the crew tried to return it to the ship for further rescue

The rescue was a difficult operation. The Port Campbell Rocket Crew arrived and fired four rocket lines, none of which connected with the ship.

Peter Carmody, a local man, volunteered to swim about one mile off shore to the ship with a line to guide the fourth and final lifeboat safely to shore. He was assisted by James McKenzie and Gerard Irvine. Seventeen men survived the shipwreck but the captain and eight of his crew perished.

The Newfield remained upright on the reef with sails set for a considerable time as the wind slowly ripped the canvas to shreds and the sea battered the hull to pieces.

The Marine Board inquiry found the wreck was caused by a "one man style of navigation" and that the Captain had not heeded the advice of his crew.

According to Jack Loney ‘… when the drama was over . . the Newfield was deserted except for the Captain’s dog and two pigs.’

Peter Carmody was awarded the Bramley-Moore medal by the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society for Saving Life at Ssea, which he received by mail on January 21st 1893.

The medal and letter of congratulations were donated to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum by Peter Carmody’s grand-daughter Norma Bracken and her son Stuart Bracken on 25th May 2006.

The Medal and Letter of Congratulations join other items in the Newfield collectionl


Flagstaff Hill’s collection of artefacts from the Newfield is significant for its association with the shipwreck Newfield, which is listed on the Victorian Heritage Registry. The collection is significant because of the relationship between the objects.

The Newfield collection is archaeologically significant as the remains of an international cargo ship.

The Newfield collection is historically significant for representing aspects of Victoria’s shipping history and its association with the shipwreck.

The Letter accompanying the Medal for Bravery awarded to Peter Carmody is significant because the attempt to save lives is associated with the shipwreck Newfield.

Physical description

A copy of a letter from the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society to Peter Carmody in reference to the bravery of Peter Carmody over the wreck of the "Newfield".
The letter is divided into 2 columns and is written in longhand using black ink on both columns. There is a letterhead in the centre of the left hand page and a round logo printed or stamped on the top of left of the left hand page. The centre of the logo shows a design of a man kneeling on a floating part of a wreck. He is rescuing a child from the sea. On the top of the circle of the logo a design shows a long-legged hen cormorant with extended wings holding an olive branch in its beak. There is also the name of a city printed onto the page under the letterhead. The letter has been folded into half along its long side, then in half again along its long side then into thirds. The letter is dated January 21st 1893.

Inscriptions & markings

“CANNING, PIERHEAD, NORTH” and “LIVERPOOL” are printed on the top left hand page. The logo “LIVERPOOL SHIPWRECK AND HUMANE SOCIETY” is printed or embossed on the paper.