ON April 1 we were pleased to welcome back to Hastings Ivor Williams, our past secretary, who gave us a talk on the ship the Royal Charter.
During the 1850s it was normal to have taken to Melbourne as many as 24,000 people per year. There were many problems during these voyages, the worst was becalming which could increase the length of a voyage by as much as four weeks.
So a new sail craft was designed with an auxiliary steam engine the Royal Charter built in Glasgow, to hopefully reduce the voyage time to Australia; and in her first voyage to Melbourne she did the trip in 54 days. On her maiden voyage home to the UK a large number of passengers were carrying undeclared gold from the Australian gold fields sown into their clothes or stowed in trunks, one such had the equivalent in value of £24 million.
After leaving Corke in Ireland she met a storm head on and floundered on the rocks at Malfrim. More than 400 people died in that storm and word soon spread that a gold ship had gone.
The ship was torn apart as it tried to move down the coast, if it had made it a little further to a shingle beach it would have been saved and who knows where the gold may have ended up. It proved that speed could not outdo bad weather.
On April 8 we had an illustrated talk form Michael Betts on The Southern States of the USA. This explained the musical influence and Civil Rights movement in the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana, featuring country, blues, and jazz music which we are all familiar with.
Atlanta was built as a railroad head and destroyed during the Civil War, rebuilt and was the home of Martin Luther King and author Margaret Mitchell of Gone with the Wind fame. On to Lynchburg the home of the Jack Daniel’s whisky distillery, Nashville the home of country music, Memphis the recording studios of Elvis Presley and where he lived at Gracelands, Beale Street the birth of the Blues and where Martin Luther King was assassinated, the swamp lands of Louisiana, the state capital of Baton Rouge with its skyscraper capitol building and the final destination of New Orleans, Bourbon Street, the world’s capital of jazz and the paddle steamers that ply the river.
A taste throughout of the different foods and the different people that make this an enjoyable area of the USA to visit.