Historical information

This Minton floor tile is from the wreck of the LOCH ARD and is currently on display in the Great Circle Gallery at Flagstaff Hill. The iron hulled clipper ship from the Loch Line was heading for Port Phillip from London, when it ran into the cliffs of Mutton Bird Island near Port Campbell.
The LOCH ARD was laden with a high value cargo including luxury goods intended for display at the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880. One notable survivor from the ship’s freight manifest was the well packed Minton porcelain peacock, a two metre high ceramic masterpiece of vivid glazed colours. (This is also on display in the Great Circle Gallery).
The almost total loss of life and property from the LOCH ARD registered as a shocking tragedy for the Colony of Victoria, at a time when social confidence and economic optimism were otherwise high. Wealth generated from Gold and Wool was increasingly being spent on grandiose private residences and imposing public buildings. The demand for quality furnishings and fittings was therefore strong.
Among the products consigned to burgeoning colonial markets by the Milton pottery at Stoke upon Trent, were their new range of colourfully patterned but very durable floor tiles – ideal for the high-traffic spaces in the large civic buildings then being constructed in Australia and America. These new floor tiles were “encaustic”, meaning that their designs and colours were encased “within” the depth of the tile.
Rather than their decorative patterns being glazed onto the surface of the tile, their inlaid designs were created during the manufacturing process, as “coloured slips” (or liquid clay) were poured into a deep pre-moulded casting. When fired, the resulting tile was colour-fast and design-fast.

Significance

The shipwreck of the LOCH ARD is of State significance. Victorian Heritage Register S417.
Flagstaff Hill’s collection of artefacts from LOCH ARD is significant for being one of the largest collections of artefacts from this shipwreck in Victoria. It is significant for its association with the shipwreck, which is on the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR S417). The collection is significant because of the relationship between the objects, as together they have a high potential to interpret the story of the LOCH ARD.

The LOCH ARD collection is archaeologically significant as the remains of a large international passenger and cargo ship. The LOCH ARD collection is historically significant for representing aspects of Victoria’s shipping history and its potential to interpret sub-theme 1.5 of Victoria’s Framework of Historical Themes (living with natural processes). The collection is also historically significant for its association with the LOCH ARD, which was one of the worst and best known shipwrecks in Victoria’s history.

Physical description

A square Minton floor tile with a black and beige pattern against a white base. This ‘encaustic’ floor tile was recovered from the shipwreck of the LOCH ARD. Other examples of this manufacture have been recovered from the wreck site and form part of the collection. Artefact Reg No LA/4.

Inscriptions & markings

On the back, or base, of the tile is inscribed the number “46” and the letters “Minton & Co Patent Stoke upon Trent”.