Historical information

This ceramic lid is from a Holloway’s Ointment pot. It was retrieved from the wreckage of the LOCH ARD. The vessel was laden with an up-to-date, high-value cargo, including luxury items intended for the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880. Britain exported her manufactures to the Australasian colonies and the Americas. Holloway’s Ointment was one nineteenth-century pharmaceutical product that was advertised in both these markets.
The price of this particular jar and its contents was printed on the label as “2S 9D” (2 shillings and nine pence). This value calculated to the approximate price in 2014, would be £51.31 (UK pounds and decimal pence) or $85 AU ― quite an expensive ointment. The label also shows a picture of a stone tablet with the inscription "IN POTS AT 1/½, 2/9, 4/6,11/-, 22/- & 33/- EACH”, which is most likely the alternative prices that the ointment was available for in differently sized containers.
Holloway’s claims for his “great remedy” included the cure of sores, wounds, ulcers and boils, gout, rheumatism, diphtheria, bronchitis, influenza, sore throats, coughs and colds, “all varieties of skin diseases”, scrofula, ringworm, scurvy, “dropsical swellings” and liver disease, piles, fistulas, and internal inflammation. The salve cream was said to penetrate the skin when rubbed on; purifying internal tissues and organs, cleansing all bodily fluids particularly the blood, and eradicating all disease from the body. Purchasers were assured that if Holloway’s Ointment alone did not affect immediate cure, then the combination of it and Holloway’s Pills (sold separately) most certainly would.
Thomas Holloway began manufacturing and marketing his miraculous ointment from premises at 244 Strand in the 1840s, moving to the more prestigious address of 533 Oxford in the late 1860s. The London address was an important part of his promotional appeal and was displayed prominently on the packaging of his products. Holloway’s attention to marketing is also observed in the pseudo-Classical emblems that decorated his containers. The sign of a snake curled around a staff is a longstanding and commonly recognised symbol of the physician’s power to heal. Similar reference on this lid is also being made to an ancient goddess of healing and her healthy young offspring.

History of the Loch Ard:

The Loch Ard got its name from ”Loch Ard” a loch which lies to the west of Aberfoyle, and the east of Loch Lomond. It means "high lake" in Scottish Gaelic. The vessel belonged to the famous Loch Line which sailed many vessels from England to Australia. The Loch Ard was built in Glasgow by Barclay, Curdle and Co. in 1873, the vessel was a three-masted square-rigged iron sailing ship that measured 79.87 meters in length, 11.58 m in width, and 7 m in depth with a gross tonnage of 1693 tons with a mainmast that measured a massive 45.7 m in height. Loch Ard made three trips to Australia and one trip to Calcutta before its fateful voyage.
Loch Ard left England on March 2, 1878, under the command of 29-year-old Captain Gibbs, who was newly married. The ship was bound for Melbourne with a crew of 37, plus 17 passengers. The general cargo reflected the affluence of Melbourne at the time. Onboard were straw hats, umbrella, perfumes, clay pipes, pianos, clocks, confectionery, linen and candles, as well as a heavier load of railway irons, cement, lead and copper. There were other items included that were intended for display in the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880.
The voyage to Port Phillip was long but uneventful. Then at 3 am on June 1, 1878, Captain Gibbs was expecting to see land. But the Loch Ard was running into a fog which greatly reduced visibility. Captain Gibbs was becoming anxious as there was no sign of land or the Cape Otway lighthouse.
At 4 am the fog lifted and a lookout aloft announced that he could see breakers. The sheer cliffs of Victoria's west coast came into view, and Captain Gibbs realised that the ship was much closer to them than expected. He ordered as much sail to be set as time would permit and then attempted to steer the vessel out to sea. On coming head-on into the wind, the ship lost momentum, the sails fell limp and Loch Ard's bow swung back towards land.
Gibbs then ordered the anchors to be released in an attempt to hold its position. The anchors sank some 50 fathoms - but did not hold. By this time the ship was among the breakers and the tall cliffs of Mutton Bird Island rose behind. Just half a mile from the coast, the ship's bow was suddenly pulled around by the anchor. The captain tried to tack out to sea, but the ship struck a reef at the base of Mutton Bird Island, near Port Campbell.
Waves subsequently broke over the ship and the top deck became loosened from the hull. The masts and rigging came crashing down knocking passengers and crew overboard. When a lifeboat was finally launched, it crashed into the side of Loch Ard and capsized.
Tom Pearce, who had launched the boat, managed to cling to its overturned hull and shelter beneath it. He drifted out to sea and then on the flood tide came into what is now known as Lochard Gorge. He swam to shore, bruised and dazed, and found a cave in which to shelter. Some of the crew stayed below deck to shelter from the falling rigging but drowned when the ship slipped off the reef into deeper water.
Eva Carmichael a passenger had raced onto the deck to find out what was happening only to be confronted by towering cliffs looming above the stricken ship. In all the chaos, Captain Gibbs grabbed Eva and said, "If you are saved Eva, let my dear wife know that I died like a sailor". That was the last Eva Carmichael saw of the captain. She was swept off the ship by a huge wave.
Eva saw Tom Pearce on a small rocky beach and yelled to attract his attention. He dived in and swam to the exhausted woman and dragged her to shore. He took her to the cave and broke the open case of brandy which had washed up on the beach. He opened a bottle to revive the unconscious woman.
A few hours later Tom scaled a cliff in search of help. He followed hoof prints and came by chance upon two men from nearby Glenample Station three and a half miles away. In a complete state of exhaustion, he told the men of the tragedy. Tom then returned to the gorge while the two men rode back to the station to get help. By the time they reached Loch Ard Gorge, it was cold and dark. The two shipwreck survivors were taken to Glenample Station to recover. Eva stayed at the station for six weeks before returning to Ireland by steamship.
In Melbourne, Tom Pearce received a hero's welcome. He was presented with the first gold medal of the Royal Humane Society of Victoria and a £1000 cheque from the Victorian Government. Concerts were performed to honour the young man's bravery and to raise money for those who lost family in the disaster.
Of the 54 crew members and passengers on board, only two survived: the apprentice, Tom Pearce and the young woman passenger, Eva Carmichael, who lost her family in the tragedy.
Ten days after the Lochard tragedy, salvage rights to the wreck were sold at auction for £2,120. Cargo valued at £3,000 was salvaged and placed on the beach, but most washed back into the sea when another storm developed. The wreck of Lochard still lies at the base of Mutton Bird Island. Much of the cargo has now been salvaged and some items were washed up into Lochard Gorge. Cargo and artefacts have also been illegally salvaged over many years before protective legislation was introduced in March 1982.
One of the most unlikely pieces of cargo to have survived the shipwreck was a Minton majolica peacock- one of only nine in the world. The peacock was destined for the Melbourne 1880 International Exhibition in. It had been well packed, which gave it adequate protection during the violent storm. Today the Minton peacock can be seen at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum in Warrnambool. From Australia's most dramatic shipwreck it has now become Australia's most valuable shipwreck artifact and is one of very few 'objects' on the Victorian State Heritage Register.


The shipwreck of the Loch Ard is of significance for Victoria and is registered on the Victorian Heritage Register ( S 417). Flagstaff Hill has a varied collection of artefacts from Loch Ard and its collection is significant for being one of the largest accumulation of artefacts from this notable Victorian shipwreck of which the subject items are a small part. The collections objects give us a snapshot of how we can interpret the story of this tragic event. The collection is also archaeologically significant as it represents aspects of Victoria's shipping history that allows us to interpret Victoria's social and historical themes of the time. Through is associated with the worst and best-known shipwreck in Victoria's history.

Physical description

The ceramic lid off a Holloway’s Ointment container, retrieved from the wreckage of the LOCH ARD. The artefact is white with the pale blue image of a woman (seated) and a child (standing). The woman is draped in a soft white robe and her throne is beside a pillar that is entwined by a serpent. The child points to an inscribed stone tablet he is holding on the other side of seated woman.

Inscriptions & markings

The front face of the lid, at the base of the woman on the throne, bears the label “HOLLOWAY’S OINTMENT”. Below this, in smaller letters, is written “TRADE MARK” and “2S.9D.” On the stone tablet pointed to by the child is inscribed “533 OXFORD ST. LONDON”, and beneath this, “IN POTS AT 1/½, 2/9, 4/6,11/-, 22/- & 33/- EACH”.