Historical information

This gas pipe fitting was one of a group of artefacts in the McCulloch Collection that were recovered from the shipwreck Loch Ard and were donated together. The fitting could have been from the ship's cargo or a ship’s fitting. Lamps from this era were fuelled by gas. There are other gas lamp fittings in our collection that were recovered from the Loch Ard

The object is now one of the shipwreck artefacts in Flagstaff Hill’s Mc Culloch Collection, which includes items recovered from the wrecks of the Victoria Tower (wrecked in 1869) and Loch Ard (wrecked in 1878). They were salvaged by a diver in the early 1970s from the southwest coast of Victoria. Advanced marine technology had enabled divers to explore the depths of the ocean and gather its treasures before protective legislation was introduced by the Government. The artefacts were donated to Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) by a passionate shipwreck lover and their locations were verified by Bruce McCulloch. In 2017 the Department repatriated them to Flagstaff Hill where they joined our vast collection of artefacts from Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast.

The Loch Ard: -
The three-masted, square-rigged iron ship Loch Ard belonged to the famous Loch Line which sailed many ships from England to Australia. The ship was built in Glasgow in 1873. The Loch Ard made three trips to Australia and one trip to Calcutta before its final voyage.

The Loch Ard left England on March 2, 1878, under the command of Captain Gibbs, bound for Melbourne with a crew of 37, plus 17 passengers and a load of cargo. The general cargo included straw hats, umbrellas, perfumes, clay pipes, pianos, clocks, confectionery, linen and candles, as well as a heavier load of railway irons, cement, lead and copper. There were items included that were intended for display in the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition, including the famous Loch Ard Peacock.

On June 1, 1878, Captain Gibbs was expecting to see land but visibility was reduced by fog. As it lifted, the sheer cliffs of Victoria's west coast came much closer than expected. The captain was unable to steer away and the ship struck a reef at the base of Mutton Bird Island, near Port Campbell. The top deck was loosened from the hull, the masts and rigging came down and knocked passengers and crew overboard, and even the lifeboat crashed into the side of the ship and capsized. Of the 54 people on board, only two survived: the apprentice, Tom Pearce and the young woman passenger, Eva Carmichael. The well-packed Minton porcelain peacock also survived, safe inside its crate.

Much of the cargo was washed up, smashed and broken, and some was salvaged. Other cargo is still with the wreck at the base of Mutton Bird Island, now protected by Government law.


The artefact is an example of cargo or personal items on board a ship in 1878. It provides a reference point for classifying and dating similar items.
This artefact is significant for its association with the sailing ship Loch Ard, one of the best-known, and one of the worst, shipwrecks in Victoria’s history.
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. It is historically significant for representing aspects of Victoria’s shipping history.

Physical description

Brass decorative gas lamp fitting. Two flat arms of different lengths are joined on either side of a fitting that has a fleur-de-lis-like design. The shorter arm has a J-shaped brass pipe fitted to it with a decorative threaded cube joint part way along, and ends with a triangular tap and knob. The longer arm is also J-shaped and ends with a feather design on it. There are remnants of green paint on the cube fittings and the knob. Recovered from the wreck of the Loch Ard.