Monday, August 15, 2011

The Story of John Hornby – Part 2

A Tale of Sea and Rail Journeys

Perhaps John lost his job at the iron mine.  Or perhaps he was enticed by many tales of locals who had migrated to foreign shores and found a better life, income and/or sunnier climates.  Or perhaps his older brother, Thomas, had written home and assured him a job could be found.  You see - Thomas had migrated with his wife and son to Zeehan sometime during 1891 (I can't find precise details); he worked at the Montana mine as an engine driver. I can just imagine a letter going from Thomas to John and his brother Jos ... "Come on over lads - things are definitely better here than at home"!

In any event, in early 1892, John made his farewells – goodbye (for now) to Mary, Grace and little Meg.  Goodbye forever to his sisters, Mary and Hannah, and to his brothers still in Dalton –  William and Jos. Both John's parents had passed away; his mother, Grace, had died 8 years earlier and his father, Simon, had died 2 year earlier.
He made his way to London, where he boarded the S.S. Rimutaka, a 4,473 gross ton ship built in 1884. She was a clipper stemmed ship, one funnel, three masts (rigged for sail). The Rimutaka departed London at 3.10pm on 1 April 1892 on a 90 day voyage with 50 passengers, bound for Wellington, New Zealand, via Teneriffe, Cape Town and Hobart.

S.S. Rimutaka
The ship made good time and arrived in Hobart on Friday 13 May 1892. When John disembarked in Hobart, he still had a significant journey ahead – he had to get to Zeehan on the remote west coast of Tasmania. ‘The Mercury’ reported that, on Monday 16 May, the S.S. Banks Peninsula departed for Strahan (the nearest port to Zeehan).  John was, most probably, aboard that steamer. I wonder if Thomas greeted John in Hobart and escorted his younger brother to Zeehan?

Extract from The Mercury (Monday 16 May 1892)
The Banks Peninsula would have headed south, then westward, rounded the underside of Tasmania, then headed northward to Macquarie Harbour. Once she entered the harbour, the heavy ocean seas would have no longer troubled her and she would have steamed steadily into the port of Strahan. 
Click Banks Peninsula to view a photo of that steamer.

From Strahan, John had to catch a train.  Luckily, the railway station lay adjacent to the wharf.  The little train would have rattled its way out of Strahan, heading northward through the quiet, empty bushland to Zeehan. 

Strahan Wharf & Railway Station – looking north.
On his arrival at Zeehan, John found himself in Tasmania’s third largest town – a town of about 10,000 people that had been built quickly to service the silver/lead mines that had sprung up. A somewhat wild place, but surely comforting to John to know he had family here: his brother, sister-in-law and his nephew (young Thomas Crewdson Hornby).

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