Historical information

These remains of a block, shackle and wire are from the sailing ship Newfield. This would have been one of the hundreds of blocks and shackles used in the rigging of the vessel. The Newfield was a three-masted iron and steel barque, built in Dundee, Scotland, in 1869 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.
On the night of 28 August 1892, the Captain mistook the Cape Otway light for that of Cape Wickham (King Island) and altered tack to the north and east putting the vessel on a collision course with the Victorian coast. At around 3:40 am the Newfield struck rocks about 100 yards from shore, and 5 feet of water filled the holds immediately. The captain gave orders to lower the boats which caused a disorganised scramble for safety among the crew. The starboard lifeboat was cleared for lowering with two seamen and two apprentices in her, but almost as soon as she touched the water she was smashed to bits against the side of the vessel, and only one of the four reached safety ashore, able seaman McLeod. The 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 offshore 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.
For his heroic efforts, Peter Carmody was awarded the Bramley-Moore medal by the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society for Saving Life at sea on January 21st 1893. The medal and a letter of congratulations were donated to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum by Peter Carmody's granddaughter Norma Bracken and her son Stuart Bracken on 25th May 2006.


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 additionally significant because of the medal awarded to a local man Peter Carmody.
The Newfield collection historically also represents aspects of Victoria's shipping history and its association with the shipwreck.

Physical description

This is what remains of a block, shackle and wire from the wreck of the sailing ship “Newfield”. The object is heavily encrusted. The exterior (cheeks) of the block is missing. The disc of the block has a channel part way around its face, about 2 cm from the edge. Two long, narrow plates are joined onto the centre of the disc’s face with a bolt through the centre. The other ends of the two plates join onto the elbow of the shackle. The elbow of the shackle is also joined onto a rod. At the other end of the rod can be seen the ends of thick wire strands.

Inscriptions & markings