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

Photograph, sepia coloured, with accompanying letter. The photograph is a portrait of a young girl in a short sleeved top with a flower on her left shoulder. The girl is "Angela Elizabeth Pearce, granddaughter of Tom Pearce" as inscribed on back of photograph. Tom Pearce was one of two survivors of the 1878 shipwreck LOCH ARD. Included with the photograph is a letter from its donor, Pamela Joan Dormer, other granddaughter of Tom Pearce. The letter dated 4th May 2010 explains the connection between Angela Pearce and Tom Pearce's Bible.
W 9 x H 13.5 cm
Attached Files
Object Registration
flagstaff hill, warrnambool, shipwrecked coast, flagstaff hill maritime museum, maritime museum, shipwreck coast, flagstaff hill maritime village, great ocean road, angela pearce, tom pearce, thomas r pearce, eva carmichael, loch ard shipwreck, tom pearce bible, loch ard presentation bible, hero tom pearce, loyal orange institution of victoria, royal humane society of victoria, mutton bird island, coleman jacobs, the young hero schottische
Historical information
This photograph is of Angela Elizabeth Pearce, granddaughter of Tom Pearce - one of only 2 survivors from the shipwreck LOCH ARD.

Angela Elizabeth Pearce had written in her grandfather’s Bible in childish handwriting the words “This Bible belongs to Angela E. Pearce”. Angela was born in England in 1925 and died in Woollahra N.S.W. in 1944, aged 19. She was one of Tom Pearce’s granddaughters. Her father, Robert Pearce was Tom’s second son. Tom Pearce is a famous hero, the rescuer of Eva Carmichael, the only other survivor from the 1878 shipwreck of the LOCH ARD.

The Bible was given to Tom Pearce in recognition of his bravery at the wreck of the LOCH ARD. It is on loan to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village from Parks Victoria. The ‘official’ inscription in the Bible reads,

“Presented to Mr Thomas Pearce, In recognition of invaluable service performed in saving life when the Loch Ard was wrecked off the coast of Australia., by the Loyal Orange Institution of Victoria, Protestant Hall, Melbourne, August 1878”

The photograph is accompanied by a letter, dated 4th May 2010, and is written by Angela’s cousin, Pamela Dormer of Devon, U.K. Her letter includes the words

“Dear Mr Abbott, re Tom Pearce’s Bible,
As you know, I have been in contact with Mr Peter Yarnis about means by which my grandfather’s presentation Bible can be released to be exhibited with his other effects, like the binoculars at Flagstaff Hill Museum. In the event that it will be, I have enclosed a photograph to join it.
When my son Bill Dormer was at Port Campbell he was about to handle his great grandfather’s Bible and was surprised by a childish inscription opposite that of his presentation, which reads (I think this is the way it goes), THIS BIBLE IS THE PROPERTY OF ANGELA ELIZABETH PEARCE.
Angela is my late cousin. Her father was Tom Pearce’s second son Robert Strasenburgh Pearce. I and my brother Raymond Simpson are the surviving grandchildren of Tom, by my mother Edith May Pearce, his only daughter.
Angela and her mother, at the beginning of W.W.2, evacuated from England to Sydney, N.S.W. but sadly both were dead by early in the 60’s. Robert (my uncle Bobby) went down with his ship on the Malta Convoy, code named PEDESTAL, escorting with other ships the vital oil tanker OHIO to the island. (signed) Pamela Dormer”


The sailing ship LOCH ARD was built in Glasgow in 1873 and belonged to the famous Loch Line. She made three trips to Australia and one trip to Calcutta before its final voyage which ended in tragedy near Port Campbell.

The LOCH ARD left England on March 2, 1878, under the command of Captain Gibbs, a newly married, 29 year old. The ship carried a general cargo which reflected the affluence of Melbourne at the time. On board were straw hats, umbrella, perfumes, clay pipes, pianos, clocks, confectionary, linen and candles, as well as a heavier load of railway irons, cement, lead and copper. LOCH ARD also had a crew of 37, and 17 passengers. The voyage to Port Phillip was long but uneventful.

At 3am on June 1, 1878, Captain Gibbs was expecting to see land and the passengers were becoming excited as they prepared to view their new homeland in the early morning. But 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 4am the fog lifted. A man 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 boat 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. 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 LOCH ARD was among the breakers, and the tall cliffs of Mutton Bird Island rose behind the ship. 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 running out from Mutton Bird Island.

Waves broke over the ship and the top deck was loosened from the hull. The masts and rigging came crashing down knocking passengers and crew overboard. It took time to free the lifeboats and when one 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 LOCH ARD 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 had raced onto 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 open a 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 state of exhaustion, he told the men of the tragedy. Tom 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, this time 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 LOCH ARD disaster.

The media of the time had created one of Australia's first media celebrities.

Everyone followed the story of Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael with great interest and were disappointed when the two went their separate ways. It was felt by many that Tom should have proposed to Eva - given they had spent an evening together unsupervised in the cave and had drunk brandy to keep warm.

Coleman Jacobs composed the music “The Young Hero Schottische” and dedicated it, by permission, to Mr. Thomas R. (Tom) Pearce. The sheet music was published in 1878 by the Messieurs Roberts, professors of dancing etc. Melbourne. It was on sale for 3/- (3 shillings) and in aid of the “LOCH ARD” fund. [This is Coleman Jacobs’ only surviving musical work Coleman Jacobs, accomplished pianist, musical performer, singer, composer, professor of music and music teacher, was born in 1827 and died on 4 July 1885, aged 58 years. Coleman Jacobs was buried in the Melbourne Cemetery (grave 461, Church of England section).]

The wreck of LOCH ARD still lies at the base of Mutton Bird Island and much of the cargo has been salvaged. Some was washed up into what is now known as LOCH ARD Gorge following the shipwreck. Cargo and artefacts have also been illegally salvaged over many years before protective legislation was introduced.
When Made
about 1930
The photographic is of significance because of Tom Pearce and his association with the disaster of the LOCH ARD shipwreck, which 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.
Inscriptions & Markings

Letter from Pamela Dormer verifying the connection between Angela Pearce and Tom Pearce’s Bible.
Last updated
13 Aug 2018 at 4:15PM