Shipwreck Databases Western Australian Museum

Eglinton (1852/09/03)

North Metro Eglinton Reef

The wreck of the 462-ton barque Eglinton
off the coast of Wanneroo, some 50 km
north of Perth, on 3 September 1852, was
the sensation of the year. Not only did it
add to the list of unfortunate maritime
incidents for which the Western Australian
coast had become well known, but also
deprived a very bare colonial market of a
large portion of valuable cargo. The arrival
of the ship had been keenly awaited and
news of the disaster was beyond belief.
For the Department of Maritime Archaeology the archaeological investigation
of the Eglinton between 1971 and 1973 was a new departure into the study of
shipwrecks: it was one of the first wreck sites the Museum was able to study that
had not been disturbed by the looting activity of divers during the 1960s. The site
provided maritime archaeologists with the opportunity to develop strategies aimed
at solving the practical problems of carrying out archaeological work in Western
Australia’s high energy, shallow water, reef environments.
The Eglinton was built in 1848 at Quebec, Canada, by Scottish shipbuilder John
Munn (Jnr). Its first owner was the Liverpool merchant Duncan Gibb who quickly
sold the vessel to John Jaffray of London. He had the ship surveyed by Lloyd’s,
a thorough report providing detailed specifications of the vessel’s construction.
According to William Felgate, the London agent for the Eglinton, it was a ‘splendid
fast sailing ship’.
Although minimally represented in the archaeological record, artefacts
associated with the ship’s construction generally confirm the documented
specifications for the vessel. They form a useful sample with which to compare
contemporary shipbuilding practices in Quebec and Britain.
While much of the Eglinton’s cargo was salvaged, the artefact collection and
associated historical documents provide significant insights into the nature of
British–Australian trade in the mid 19th century: the type and quality of goods
being imported, marketing strategies and so on. In addition, the integration of
historical and archaeological data provides a limited perspective of the state of
development of the Swan River Colony in the 1850s


Ship Built

Owner Duncan Gibbs then sold to John Jaffray

Master Captain Bennett

Builder John Munn (Jnr.)

Country Built Canada

Port Built Quebec

When Built 1848

Ship Lost

Gouped Region Metro

Sinking Struck Reef

Deaths 2

When Lost 1852/09/03

Where Lost North Metro Eglinton Reef

Latitude -31.6408333333

Longitude 115.659

Position Information GPS

Port From Gravesend

Port To Fremantle

Cargo General and 65,000 gold sovereigns

Ship Details

Engine N

Length 36.20

Beam 8.20

TONA 462.00

Draft 5.50

Museum Reference

Unique Number 133

Sunk Code Wrecked and sunk

File Number 2009/0107/SG _MA-416/71

Chart Number AUS 334, 51346

Protected Protected Federal

Found Y

Inspected Y

Date Inspected 1991/01

Confidential NO