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Birkdale, a large, steel, three-masted, steam-powered barque built in 1892, is best known for being the inspiration behind many paintings by John Everett. Everett joined the barque Birkdale (as third mate) in 1920 and on a short voyage made many drawings and paintings, most of which are hung in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. She was the last barque to fly the red ensign, and she spent almost all her working life carrying nitrate from Chile. In June 1927, Birkdale ran aground and wrecked after catching fire in the Nelson Strait while en route to Peru. She was possibly named for an area of that name in Southport, Merseyside, Lancs.

According to my informant Peter Dedman, she visited Fremantle in 1897 and was delayed three months along with many other ships because of the gold boom and heavy weather on the exposed Long Jetty. Birkdale House, which was on the corner of Knutsford and Solomon Streets (c. 1898-1966), was named after her, he tells me.

Frank Armstrong Wightman wrote about a voyage from Cape Town to Sydney in the Birkdale, during which she nearly foundered, in his book The Wind is Free (which is mainly about him building and sailing his own 34ft yawl Wylo across the Southern Ocean). John Vigor has the relevant excerpt in his blog for 21 June 2012.

References and Links

Wikipedia article, from which the first two images come. The third is from a painting by Everett. Peter Dedman didn't tell me anything about the fourth.

Wightman, Frank A. 1949, The Wind is Free, Duell, Sloane & Pearce (also publ. Hart-Davis, London, 1955).

Garry Gillard | New: 14 January, 2020 | Now: 3 January, 2023