31. Shipwreck Memorial (11-12 July 1899)
A single block of marble was sculpted into an anchor and chain draped over a cross to mark a tragic 24 hours in WA maritime history. Two tall ships were lost in a heavy storm off Rottnest Island in 1899. The local community started a fund for the survivors and erected the memorial for those who drowned.
One of the ships, the Carlisle Castle, was carrying locking bars from Glasgow for the Goldfields Water Supply project. The vessel went down off Penguin Island on 11 July with all 22 hands during a force 10 storm. The weather was so bad the master, Captain Lindsay, could not get a fix on sun or stars.
The City of York was a smaller three-master carrying timber and doors from San Francisco. With Captain Jones in charge, the ship had made record time for the passage and was approaching Rottnest on the evening of 12 July. The master thought flares from Rottnest Island were from a pilot boat ahead – and ran aground.
Although the wreck was only 200 metres from shore, 11 crew, including Captain Jones, were drowned. An initial inquiry blamed “gross carelessness by the master” but this was overturned and Captain Jones cleared of all blame.