The Eastminister docked in Maryborough, where it delivered hundreds of immigrants and the city's iconic bells that sound out from St Paul's Anglican Church in the Heritage City.
The Eastminister docked in Maryborough, where it delivered hundreds of immigrants and the city's iconic bells that sound out from St Paul's Anglican Church in the Heritage City. Contributed

Maryborough was tragic ship's final destination

EVERY week the iconic sound of the bells ringing from the tower at St Paul's Anglican Church can be heard ringing out in Maryborough.

But the bells were almost lost at the bottom of the ocean, along with the lives of hundreds of immigrants who would make the Heritage City their home.

The Eastminister was an iron ship built in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1876.

Operating as an emigrant vessel, she was launched in June of that year and for the next 12 years completed journeys across the ocean.

But fate would not be kind to the vessel.

In 1888, the ship delivered the nine bells to Maryborough, along with hundreds of migrants looking for a new life.

The bells were cast in England by Mears and Stainbank, now Whitechapel Foundry in London, on September 3, 1887.

The tower and the bells were commissioned by one of Maryborough's early settlers, Edger Aldridge in memory of his beloved wife, Maria.

Each bell bears the inscription "To the Glory of God and in memory of Mrs Maria Aldridge, 1886."

After dropping off the bells and hundreds of immigrants, the Eastminister was seen departing Maryborough after ignoring a warning from the harbour pilot, heading out to sea in a rising gale on February 17, 1888.

It was bound for Newcastle in New South Wales.

The Eastminister was presumed lost during a tropical cyclone that passed through the area immediately afterwards.

The wreckage was later discovered on a coral reef in the Capricorn and Bunker Group in the Coral Sea, about 100 nautical miles east of Rockhampton.

In 2012 the bells, believed to the oldest in Queensland, were transported back to England for restoration.

Thankfully they were restored and returned without any of the tragedy that marked their first journey.
 



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