HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

16 May 2014

SS Mokau.


The fascinating story continues and more relics found.

mokau-sheeting mokau-sheeting-side-two Copper sheeting found recently near the wreck.
The green patina and distortion have made this usually flat featureless metal into something quite sculptural.

We received a letter from Sue Rogers who’s ancestors were at one time owners of the
SS Mokau.
Sue has a book written by her great uncle Jack, below is the letter from Sue as received and the extract from the book.

Sue Rogers.
Hi, I am sorry it took me a couple of days to reply.

It was great to see a photo of the sets and dies that were on the Mokau, I visited my father today and he was very excited to see your website, I will definitely come down to the museum one day, I live near Camden so we are not too far away, last year we had a short holiday at Berrara beach, my daughter and I went for a walk south of the beach, I never realised how close we were to the Mokau.

mokau-sheeting-close-up-of-copper-nails mokau-sheeting-close-up-of-copper-nails-2 Close up of the copper nails used to fix the protective sheeting to the hull.

I have an extract from a book my great uncle Jack wrote about the Mokau:

On April 5, 1904 Barty purchased the ‘Mokau’ (Reg No 112543) from the Taranaki Collieries Ltd. of Sydney. He had a section of extra hull inserted amidships by Rock Davis on April 11, 1904, increasing its length from 98.7 to 115 feet and its registered tonnage from 98.28 to 112.5. This made the vessel more stable and more suitable to carry general cargo. ‘Mokau’ was a single screw steamship, two-masted schooner rigged, built at Balmain by David Drake in 1901 with a wood carvel hull and elliptical stern.

Bartholomew was 65 in 1904, his wife died later that year so his older sons (one son was Dominic (Jack’s father and my great grandfather)).

Bartholomew died in 1910, and I just found a notice in the Sydney Morning Herald 8th July 1919 saying the ship was sold to Messrs Kirton and Earnshaw Ltd

The book also goes on to say :
During these years, some of the vessels were carrying timber to the northern rivers for railway construction linking the towns and cities. They did not know that the construction of the railways would bring about the demise of the shipping industry.

In 1920, B.M. Corrigan’s sons decided to split the company and sold the shipping interests to the NCSNC. The ship chandler business was continued by John Francis Corrigan until April 1st 1928. His widow Lillian and one of her nephews carried on the business until about 1939-40. Dominic Corrigan designed the ship’s flag, which was green and white with the initials BMC on it.

The flag on the painting in the picture is the Corrigan flag.

SS-MOKAU Painting of the Mokau with the flag flying on the rear mast designed by Domonic Corrigan, Sue’s grandfather.

Barty’s story is very interesting (as probably most people’s were in those days, he grew up on a farm in Ireland, worked in an Uncle’s factory in London before obtaining his cousin’s ticket to Australia, as his cousin went to America instead, so he came out to Sydney with his cousin’s name, and worked hard, married his bosses daughter, and slowly built up the company, he also had a partner William Reidy for a while. He had a shipping chandler business on Market and Sussex st Sydney, and the shipping business.

I also found on trove an article in the Hobart mercury on 2 February 1914, and the Sydney morning herald 2/2/1914  where the ss Mokau was involved in a collision with a paddle steamer, the paddle steamer sunk, (passengers and crew survived) with the Mokau not damaged (there was a witness in the  Sydney morning herald from the Tay 1, this ship was also owned by the Corrigans). The captain of the Mokau.

Richard Davis was charged in March that year and had his captains certificate suspended for 3 months, he was also in court in Feburary19 1914 for stealing whisky.

Kind regards
Sue Rogers.

glass-bottle-fragment-and-bubble-2 glass-bottle-fragment-and-bubble This piece of bottle was also found on the sand near the wreck.
It has a large air bubble trapped within the glass.
The glass is quite thick and you can see many small bubbles all trapped when this bottle was hand made.
The glass has a slight greenish tinge to it.

I wonder if there is any air left in the bubble,,,It would be air from 100 years or more ago..it makes you think!

Patina – meaning - A thin greenish layer, usually basic copper sulfate, that forms on copper or copper alloys, such as bronze, as a result of corrosion.

Previous information and stories.
   1 - The Mokau wreck story makes a connection.
   2 - The coastal steamer Mokau – pictures and underwater video of the wreck as it is now.


  1. Thank you Sue for you informative information, it makes fascinating reading.

  2. Very interesting history of the people involved with this ship.