1st December 2007, 00:13
I have been asked about the events surrounding the bringing of "Cleopatra's
Needle" to London. The ship Cleopatra (sail only) was towed at first by the
OLGA; lost and then found by the FITZMAURICE; then finally towed into the
Thames by the tug ANGLIA. In order to establish the crew lists, the Official
Numbers are being sought. The National Archives has the crew list for the
CLEOPATRA. But very little information is available for the ANGLIA also known
as "three fingered Jack", and none on the OLGA. Please can anyone help?
Best Wishes, Raymond
1st December 2007, 13:58
ANGLIA official No was 54745.
The needle was enclosed in a purpose built container built by Thames Ironworks.
Anglia towed from Ferrol to Gravesend the needle being taken to the embankment by smaller tugs including ERA.
Details of anglia etc at www.thamestugs.co.uk on the Watkins pages
1st December 2007, 14:46
Hi Tug, That is excellent - thank you.
I found details of CLEOPATRA in a book of mine.
Would you by any chance know the names of the other "smaller tugs"?
It is possible that the OLGA was not a tug per se, it is also possible
that she was not British registered. Best Wishes, Raymond
1st December 2007, 17:10
Sorry no knowledge of the smaller tugs except ERA which was again Watkins and used because her funnel could be lowered. I believe Anglia was commanded by Capt David Glue. I have attached below part of an email I received some time ago from a lady also researching the needle. It is apparently taken from an original one penny pamphlet published at the time.
Extract from Cleopatra and all about her needle and the event that led to its arrival in England.
""(The Cleopatra) was picked up by the English steamer 'Fitzmaurice' near the spot where the Olga (tug steamer) had left her, and was towed into Ferrol on the coast of Spain, where a lien on her was placed for salvage by the captain of the Fitzmaurice. After many weeks detention her salvage was settled for, and she was taken 'out of pawn' by the 'Anglia' sent from England, and was safely towed without any further mishap from Ferrol Bay to the Thames, and finally moored in the East India Docks in the first month of 1878. The needle's last venture on the water before her erection on the ground chosen for her in her new home took place at an early hour of the morning of Saturday February 2nd. The arrangements for unlocking the Cleopatra were then made under the supervision of Colonel Du Plat Taylor, Secretary of the East India Dock Company, Mr Astat, Superintendent, and Captain Marrable, Dock Master. After being towed into the river by the 'Era' a tug belonging to Mr Watson, owner of the 'Anglia' which brought the obelisk from Ferrol, the Trogan' and another tug were firmly lashed on either side of the Cleopatra to make her steer steadier than she did on the previous voyage, and were handsomely dressed with the flags of the Shipwrights' Company, commanded by Mr Lovell, the pilot, in company with Captain Carter, who brought the 'Cleopatra' from Alexandria. The public excitement became so intense that those who could afford the expense chartered several wherries all along the Thames to get a close inspection. Accompanying Mr Dixon (who was responsible for the work of bringing the needle to England) and friends, were Sir Charles Adderley, President of the Board of Trade. An escort was provided by the Thames Conservancy Board's Launch, in charge of Captain James, having on board Admiral Ommaney and some other members, who went ahead to secure a clear course for the procession. Captain Carter
with his mate, Mr Matthews, and the same crew as brought her over, were on board Guns were fired from
several wharfs in response to which she saluted; and besides multitudes on both the river banks, crowds hailed from all the bridges although so early in the morning.""
You will note that this pamphlet gives the name Mr Watson as owner of the Anglia and not William Watkins Limited. Could this be a mistake or did William Watkins Limited 'manage1 vessels owned by other people? It also mentions the tug 'Era' as belonging to the same Mr Watson. There is also the tug Trogan' and one other. The number of vessels associated with this enterprise grows! I see you have the Era on your list.
The same pamphlet also mentions that the Cleopatra was a wrought iron cylindrical pontoon vessel prepared by the Thames Iron Ship Building Company. It was shipped to Alexandria in pieces and constructed around the Needle, and the fore and aft compartments above the centre line were filled with concrete.
Hope this of interest and Yes for Watson read Watkins!!
I have seen at least one source stating the Olga was a British cargo steamer.
1st December 2007, 17:26
Most Excellent ... I see TROGAN, presumably TROJAN.
I have no doubt that there were and are books, but there is always
something new that turns up ..
Many thanks, Raymond.
1st December 2007, 17:41
This has come up via my site several times and for quite a famous event there seem to be a lot of different versions and the real facts hard to discover.. The Watkins "history" published in 1933 only devotes a half page to the event, makes no mention of Olga by name and no mention of the Fitzmaurice at all, saying it was taken into Ferrol by the Spanish fishermen who found it adrift. It does say that Watkins charged £500 to tow it from Ferrol to London. I would imagine they were none too pleased with the misspelling of their name in the pamphlet!!!
1st December 2007, 19:00
Biggest boo-boo is the name of the obelisk; not Cleopatra's at all.
There is precious little on the FITZMAURICE except on Miramar.
The Illustratated London news offers a number of engravings, but
the "Olga" looks just like the "Anglia" to my untrained eyes. I have
suggested a good "port of call" are the records of Cleopatra (lighter)
at the National Archives. I heard before about the Spanish fishermen
when I was interested myself, some time ago, when in my architectural
studies phase 40 odd years ago. Fitzmaurice is a new one to me.
It's enough to give one the Needle. Best Wishes, Raymond
2nd December 2007, 23:25
Tug 'Anglia' and aforementioned needle!
1878, 'Anglia' (Owned by Wm. Watkins) took over the tow of Cleopatra's needle from the steamer 'Olga'. The ship snapped her tow after 20 days of inclement weather in the Bay of Biscay. Another steamer, the 'Fitzmaurice', found the obelisk and towed it to Vigo - earning a salvage award of £2000! 'Anglia' then picked up the tow and continued with it to off Gravesend when she handed it over to smaller tugs.
'Anglia' was 144.4' LOA 275 tons and a main engine of 700IHP and driven by paddles. Her ON is, alas, something I do not know!
3rd December 2007, 00:10
Thank you Jonty for the info .. and another sequence of events.
But actually, this sounds more plausible, and the salvage too,
which answers the worry that I had over FITZMAURICE.
I wonder if The Times had anything to say?
Best Wishes, Raymond
3rd December 2007, 10:10
There is some detail and a drawing of the 'Anglia' in Britiosh Steam Tugs by P. N. Thomas - long regarded as an authoritive work on the subject.
I have a copy but you might have problems getting it in the local library.
3rd December 2007, 12:28
Hi Jonty and thanks for the tip .. eyes now peeled.
There are drawings in the Illustrated London News,
supposedly of the Olga and of Anglia - trouble is that
they look to be the same vessel. This query has made me
more than interested, myself. Best Wishes, Raymond
3rd December 2007, 17:53
See if you can get the book from Amazon. I think I paid £15 for mine and it was in excellent nick. That way you can compare them?
By the way, if you try your local library, then these details might be handy for them searching:
ISBN 0 905184 07 6 'British Steam Tugs' by PN Thomas, published by Waine Research of Albrighton, Wolverhampton. First edition 1983.
3rd December 2007, 18:11
Excellent, it is a "Waine" - I have Steam Coasters, and have
Steam Collier Fleets on order. Thanks, Raymond
5th July 2012, 21:28
OLGA (ON 60222) was the 1329grt British iron steamship built in 1870 by Laing at Deptford, Sunderland and owned in 1877 by St. Andrew Steam Ship Co Ltd (mng William Johnston & Co), Liverpool. She was due to sail Alexandria for Newcastle-on-Tyne with a cargo of grain and contracted to also tow the CLEOPATRA for £900 as far as Falmouth, where tugs would complete the tow to the Thames.
8/9/1877 CLEOPATRA towed from loading/construction site in Alexandria to Alexandria Dockyard by two tugs: Greenfield's CHAMPION and the Egyptian Government's ADJIMEH.
21/9 OLGA sailed Alexandria with CLEOPATRA in tow
-/9? called Algiers for coal
7-8/10 called Gibraltar
14/10 passed Cape Finisterre
In gale CLEOPATRA nearly foundered - 6 crew of OLGA's lifeboat were lost in the initial valiant attempt to rescue the crew of CLEOPATRA; they later abandoned ship via an unmanned boat sent down-wind on a line from OLGA. The hawser to CLEOPATRA was then cut so that a search for the six missing seamen could be commenced - after lack of success they turned back to look for CLEOPATRA without success and, supposing that she must have foundered, sailed directly to Falmouth.
15/10 Steamer FITZMAURICE (474grt, built 1875 Birrell Stenhouse & Co, Dumbarton - Yd No 2) of Burrell & Co, Glasgow, from Middlesbrough for Valencia with pig iron sighted CLEOPATRA.
16/10 Taken in tow for El Ferrol, but ropes parted.
17/10 reconnected and arrived El Ferrol
After dispute over salvage award, High Court awarded £2000 in April 1878 though the CLEOPATRA had been released after a bond had been put up in late 1877.
19/12 Owners of CLEOPATRA regained possession and refitted her for the remaining voyage, contracting William Watkins to tow her with ANGLIA for £500.
12/1 ANGLIA arrived at El Ferrol
15/1 sailed with CLEOPATRA
21/1 arrived Gravesend and later handed over to tug MOSQUITO for berthing in East India Dock.
2/2 CLEOPATRA towed by Watkins' ERA out of East India Dock and then taken by Page & East's tugs AJAX and TROJAN (lashed alongside) to mooring off St Thomas's Hospital
30/5 taken by ERA and TROJAN to present site of Cleopatra's Needle.
No mention of any Spanish fishermen involved in the salvage.
Most of above from Ron Hayward's excellent "Cleopatra's Needles" (Moorland Publishing, Buxton 1978).