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Copper Sheet

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

Large heavy sheets or panels of copper metal raised from the wreck of the LOCH ARD. The 10 sheets are of roughly similar dimensions and rectangular shape. They bear signs of prolonged submersion in seawater, with various degrees of limestone accretion, adhered marine growth, and green oxidisation. Three of the sheets are severely buckled, demonstrating the force of underwater explosives used in their salvage. One sheet appears cut or severed in a diagonal line downwards from its top left hand corner. One sheet has a 10cm X 10cm square cut out of its top right hand corner. All sheets are in sturdy, stable condition. No maker’s marks are visible.
Various measurements averaging approximately H 133cm X W 169cm X D 1cm. Average weight (calculated by volume 0.1936m³ X Cu density 8930kgs/m³) is approximately 216kgs per sheet.
Attached Files
Object Registration
flagstaff hill, warrnambool, shipwrecked coast, flagstaff hill maritime museum, maritime museum, shipwreck coast, flagstaff hill maritime village, great ocean road, loch line, loch ard, captain gibbs, eva carmichael, tom pearce, glenample station, mutton bird island, loch ard gorge, sailing ship, copper sheet, manutacturing materials, metal imports
Historical information
In 1984 the Commonwealth Government made available to Flagstaff Hill a collection of lead ingots and copper sheets recovered from the wreck-site of the LOCH ARD. They were presented to the Warrnambool City Council by the Hon. Tom Uren MHR, Minister for Territories and Local Government: “The Commonwealth recognises that shipwrecks like the LOCH ARD are our national heritage with important educational, recreational and tourist applications” (The Standard, Tuesday 8 May 1984).
The LOCH ARD was wrecked in 1878. Unsuccessful salvage operations were then undertaken with the 90 ton paddle steamer NAPIER. In sudden bad weather this vessel too was sunk. The precise position of the LOCH ARD in the exposed and dangerous waters off Mutton Bird Island became lost to memory.
The underwater location of the LOCH ARD was rediscovered in 1967 by a Warrnambool skindiver, Stan McPhee. In the two years following his find, the vessel was systematically pillaged by unauthorised salvagers. This led to the State and Federal Governments’ intervention in 1969. A roundup and seizure of recovered lead ingots and copper sheets was conducted by Commonwealth and Victorian Police. Offenders were charged and convicted. The “repossessed loot of the Tassie Boys” was placed into secure storage (Jack Loney, 1978, Wrecks & Reputations).
The LOCH ARD manifest of cargo lists “Pig lead 50 tons, 994 pig & 37 rolls” and “Copper 33 plates, 53 bolts”. While the lead ingots have been subsequently described as “ballast”, the copper sheets are unlikely to have been associated with the ship’s normal complement in that way. Similar product lines in the cargo manifest are “Bar and rod iron 102 tons”, “Plate iron 3 tons” and “Zinc 12 tons”. These raw materials were used by colonial artisans such as blacksmiths and metal smelters to fashion, and repair, agricultural implements and industrial machinery.
Copper was valued for its non-corrosive properties and its malleability, or ease of working. Both these qualities were useful, for example, in laying underground gas pipes that supplied lighting to residences, businesses and streetscapes in the mid-nineteenth century. As the nineteenth century progressed, the metal was also increasingly valued for its conductivity, with copper wiring linking colonial communities to each other, and the wider world, via the Telegraph system.
When Made
circa 1878
The ship wreck 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.
Last updated
23 Jul 2018 at 4:22PM