Ship model, "Loch Vennachar", miniature model, in a bottle with a moulded seascape, made by Neil Fleming, Australia, 1977
The is a model of the clipper ship, "Loch Vennachar", in a bottle. Building ships in bottles was an old maritime art form, like scrimshaw. It was a hobby undertaken by sailors in their spare time. The shape of the bottle determined what type of ship should be built inside it.
The full size "Loch Vennachar" was one of the fastest of the "Loch" series of clippers, making the Melbourne to Glasgow passage in an average time of 85 days during the 1880s. The vessel was very prominent in the wool trade. The "Loch Vennacher" was one of the ill-fated ships of the Loch line, sixteen of which were lost in the oceans of the world. On the ship's final voyage in 1905 it was wrecked with the loss of all lives near West Bay, Kangaroo Island.
Senior Curator, Transport
Reserach by Rob Mayrick, Museum Volunteer
The full size¬?Loch Vennachar¬?, of which this is a model, was a three-masted iron-hulled clipper ship of 1552 tons built by J. and G. Thompson of Glasgow in 1875 and owned by the Glasgow Shipping Company. The name was drawn from Loch Venachar, a lake which lies in the Stirling region of Scotland, and is understood to mean "most beautiful lady" in Scottish Gaelic.
She was one of the first wool clippers, carrying around 5500 bales of wool, and a fast ship, with an average of 85 days sailing from Australia to the U.K. However, she was also considered an unlucky ship. The ultimate loss of the ¬?Loch Vennacher¬? in tragic circumstances is part of a larger story about the loss of a total of 16 ships of the ill-fated Loch line.
During a cyclone in 1892 in the Southern Indian Ocean, the foremast and mainmast of the ¬?Loch Vennachar¬? were completely destroyed and just a stump remained of the mizzen mast. For nine days she lay unmanageable but finally the crew were able to rig a jury mast on the stump of the mizzen mast and set a sail. The ship managed to get to Mauritius and after a five month refit, was ready to sail again. For his feat of bringing the ship back to port, Captain Bennett was awarded the Lloyd's Medal, the equivalent in the Merchant Marine of the Victoria Cross.
In November 1901, when at anchor at Thameshaven, the ¬?Loch Vennachar¬? was run down by the steamer ¬?Cato¬? and went down in 12 metres of water. After resting for a month on the bottom of the Thames, she was raised, repaired, refitted, and resumed the U.K.-Australian trade.
The ¬?Loch Vennachar¬? left Glasgow on her last voyage in September 1905, bound for Adelaide and Melbourne. Sadly, adverse winds blew her on to rocks under the cliffs near West Bay, Kangaroo Island. Captain Hawkins and a crew of 24 were all lost. Members of the Society for Underwater Research discovered the remains of the wreck in 1976 in 20 metres of water in an area where other ships have also been lost, including the "Loch Sloy".
Lubbock, B., 'Colonial Clippers', Brown, Son & Ferguson, Glasgow, 1955.pp.220-222.