Edwin Fox


Edwin Fox
Edwin Fox as it was in its prime

Built in 1853 in Sulkeah, India, the Edwin Fox was constructed in a style which had been used for over 300 years. She was a fully rigged trader made of the best Indian teak. No expense was spared. Stern galleries, coir running gear and all the best the East could offer. She was sold for 30,000 in 1854 to a British ship owner who in turn chartered her to the British Government for use as a troop carrier in the Crimean War. During the war a storm struck Sebastapol, on the main war front destroying most of the ships. Edwin Fox was at this point in Malta so was one of the few surviving troop ships. Again in 1858 the government chartered her but this time it was to transport 280 male political prisoners to Australia.

With the death of The Edwin Fox's owner in 1862 she was sold and in 1867 converted to a barque. By 1873 she had begun transporting immigrants to New Zealand under the auspices of the Shaw Savill and Albion Company. Each passage took over 100 days and often illness would break out in the cramped conditions. The Edwin Fox continued carrying immigrants, and numerous other cargoes in between, until about 1881 when she was converted to carry refrigerated goods. Her masts were greatly reduced and huge boilers installed on the deck. In 1897 she was towed to Picton where she was used briefly as a freezer hulk then for meat worker accommodation until 1903. By 1905 large holes had been cut in her sides to allow her use as a coal hulk and everything of value removed. Even more recently, in the late 1950's, the Edwin Fox was modified with her poop and top gallant forecastle being removed. In 1965 she was bought by the Edwin Fox Restoration Society but a change in local government resulted in her being towed to Shakespeare Bay and left there for the next 20 years. Despite numerous attempts to have her taken to other parts of the world she was finally towed to Picton in 1981 to be restored. She remained floating beside the Society's building until recently when a graving dock was completed. Surprisingly, 147 years after being built the hull of the Edwin Fox was still water tight.

Edwin Fox
Edwin Fox as it is today, after years of neglect
Even in the 21st Century, the ship has attracted surprisingly low public interest and the $22 million required for the Edwin Fox's complete restoration has become an impossible goal. This lead to a recent resolution by the society to change their focus from restoration to preservation of the remaining ship. By the end of 2000 the Edwin Fox will have a roof built over it and a preservative applied to all timber to stop rotting thanks to a grant by the New Zealand Government earlier on in the year.

For more information visit.Edwin Fox Society