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Gas Fitting

From the Collection of Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village 89 Merri Street Warrnambool Victoria

Description
A pressed brass gas light fitting, recovered from the wreck of the LOCH ARD. The elegant and functional fitting extends from an ornate 8cm diameter ceiling flange, and comprises two short lengths of fluted column pipe with a brass joiner that are severed (cut off) at the end. Within this decorative outer layer of 3cm diameter is a full length brass tube liner, which is in turn protecting a narrow 0.75cm copper gas pipe that also runs full length. The artefact is generally unrestored with reddish/cream sandstone concretion, but is in good condition.
Size
L 54cm X D 8cm X 3cm
Object Registration
6608
Keywords
warrnambool, shipwreck coast, flagstaff hill, shipwrecked coast, flagstaff hill maritime village, flagstaff hill maritime museum, shipwreck artefact, maritime museum, gas lamps, gas lighting, gas works, brass fittings, gas pipes, loch ard, 1878 shipwreck, victorian affluence, colonial gas lighting
Historical information
The artefact is a short cross-section of part of a functional part of a brass fitting that suspended a gas lamp, providing structural support, and internally, supplying the gas for its ignition. It combines elegant design with the elements required for safe and efficient delivery of gas. It was recovered from the LOCH ARD shipwreck site. There are similar artefacts in the Flagstaff Hill collection.
The LOCH ARD left Gravesend (London) on 2 March 1878, bound for Melbourne, with a crew of 37, 17 passengers, and a diverse and valuable cargo of manufactured goods, luxury items, and refined metal. Some of the cargo was intended for Melbourne’s first International Exhibition to be held in 1880. At 3 am, 1 June 1878, the ship was wrecked against the high limestone cliffs of Mutton Bird Island on Victoria’s south west coast near Port Campbell. Only two people survived the disaster — Tom Pearce, a male crew member, and Eva Carmichael, a female passenger. The cargo proved too difficult to salvage in the vessel’s exposed condition and was largely written off.
The manifest of goods in the LOCH ARD’s holds included “Fittings gas (4 cases)”. The gas lighting of streets, public buildings, and the dwellings of wealthier private citizens, was already well advanced in the cities and major towns of the Australian colonies. In 1841 Sydney was the first to be gas lit with 23 street lamps, 106 hotel lamps, and 200 private residences connected to the Darlinghurst “gasometer” by an underground network of metal pipes. “The dim days of oil and tallow are gone by!” pronounced one newspaper, flushed with civic pride.
The 1850s Gold Rush promoted a similar attitude of confidence and affluence in the Colony of Victoria. In 1855 Melbourne was connected to its own system of subterranean gas pipes despite the same high rates of 25 shillings per 1000 cubic feet being charged, (reduced to 15 shillings in 1865 with cheaper sources of coal). By1858 Kyneton had its own gasworks to light the town (fuelled by eucalyptus leaves) and Geelong followed suit in 1860.
Had the LOCH ARD reached its intended destination in 1878, it is probable that the 4 cases of brass gas light fittings on board would have found a ready market.
When Made
Before 1878
Significance
The LOCH ARD shipwreck is of State significance — Victorian Heritage Register S417.
Last updated
3 Mar 2017 at 10:09AM