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source: Natal Mercury May 19 1880: contributed by Rosemary Dixon-Smith, Natal Ancestry Research. (description & picture)
ARRIVAL OF THE U.R.M.S. (Union SS Co. Royal Mail Steamer) 'AFRICAN' (at Natal SA)
Shipping Gazette: Arrived:
AFRICAN, URMS of Southampton, 2000 t, CRUTCHLEY,
from England and Cape ports: Cargo general.
"ARRIVAL OF THE URMS 'AFRICAN'
The URMS African arrived at the outer anchorage from England early on Thursday morning, after a very good voyage. She had on board 60 immigrants - 20 men and 10 women and children. The men are carpenters, blacksmiths, farm labourers, engineers, gardeners and joiners, and the women, housekeepers and domestic servants. This is one of the largest numbers of immigrants that has as yet reached Natal in one ship and we have little doubt that we have to thank Mr Walter Peace, the acting immigration agent in London, for such a large and respectable class of immigrants as landed at the Point yesterday. Mr Peace has this year been instrumental in sending out a total we believe of 200 immigrants. Early yesterday Mr. Reid of the Immigration Depot went out in the 'Union' and boarded the 'African' for the purpose of looking after those who were arriving here under the Immigration Act and in a short time the 'Union' landed them safely on to the wharf. Some friends of the immigrants were present, but there were some more who found themselves on a foreign land without those who required their services being there to receive them. For such parties Mr. Reid had made preparations by having tents erected on the Market Square for their reception, and it speaks well for the friendship formed by this large body when we mention that in no instance was a poor stranger allowed to enter the tents; those who had found friends kindly looked after their less fortunate fellow passengers, and in a short time they were all distributed throughout the town in boarding-houses. They spoke highly of the treatment they received while coming out. An infant, aged a little over a year, died on the 18th of April. Mr. Reid performed his task admirably and was careful to see all the immigrants provided for before he retired from his work. The names of the passengers will be found in our shipping column." (see above)
'ANGLIAN' URMS of Southampton 2200 t, OWEN, for Cape
and Intermediate ports, Cargo general.
More about the vessel African:
source: Ships & South Africa by Marischal Murray
"In his memoirs Captain Crutchley of the Union Company relates another incident connected with the Zulu War, which also forms an interesting sidelight on the great rivalry which existed between the Union Line and Currie's Line. Crutchley was serving in the coaster 'African' when the catastrophe at Isandlwana took place and he tells how, when he was in Capetown one night in January 1879, rumours reached his club at about 11 p.m. that disaster had overtaken the British in Natal. Crutchley knew that there were troops in Capetown and realized that, if reports were true, they would be badly needed at the front. He knew also that there were Currie steamers in Table Bay and that his rivals would be only too ready to take the reinforcements up the coast. He forthwith hurried off to the office of the Cape Argus where he tried to 'pump' the editor, but all the information he could get was that troops would, in all probability, be urgently needed in Natal. That, however, was enough. The office of the Union Company was, of course, long since closed; it was not yet the day of the telephone, and the suburbs, where the company's officials lived, were practically inaccessible at that late hour. Acting therefore on ihs own responsibility he presented himself first at Government House and then at the Castle, and within a short time he had secured for his ship the valuable task of rushing the reinforcements to Durban. It was a great feather in the cap of the Union Line. Before dawn, the African was being got ready and within a few hours the troops were embarked and the vessel cleared for Port Natal. On her arrival therea few days later she landed not only the troopos but also her own little 12-pounder, which was used for the defence of the Pinetown laager on the outskirts of Durban."
note: Captain Crutchley's memoirs were published as "My Life at Sea" by W C Crutchley, London, 1912.
AFRICAN (1) 1873 Key, Kinghorn 2019 tons was employed as a mail steamer between England and the Cape until 1881 when she was transferred to the South African coasting service. Four years later she was purchased by F. Stumore and Company of London, who retained the original name of the vessel. On February 15th 1887 when bound with a cargo of coals from Cardiff to Jeddah, she ran ashore in the Red Sea at Abu Madaff, 40 miles from Suakim, and became a total wreck.
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