CHRISTS Church Anglican Church has spent most parish council meetings over the past three-and-a-half years planning the future of the anchor from the wreck of the barque James Service which ran aground off Mandurah in 1878 with the loss of all lives.
Last week, their plans came to fruition when the restored anchor was unveiled.
The 441-ton ship ran aground on the Murray reef during a storm and more than 80 years later, the anchor was raised and placed in the church grounds where many of those who died are buried.
But the anchor has deteriorated over the years and it has been restored, courtesy of a funding grant from Royalties for Regions through Peel Development Commission and an in-kind donation from Transcoat Engineering.
The James Service was built in Scotland and was on her way from Calcutta to the company’s headquarters in Melbourne carrying members of a theatrical company when she hit the reef in a storm.
Eye witnesses on the foreshore could see her but were powerless to help.
In his diary, pioneer Robert Mewburn recorded a beach strewn for miles with wreckage, including wigs, swords and tinsel.
Hundreds of cases of castor oil from the ship’s hold also covered the beach.
Among the bodies recovered and buried in the churchyard were the captain’s wife Mrs Sievewright, 22-year old actress Bessie Cowdery and her husband troupe manager Charles.
When the Underwater Explorers Club of Perth recovered the anchor in seven metres of water in 1962, they could see the trees and posts on the estuary shore – passengers and crew had died within sight of safety.
The anchor is of special significance to Mandurah and is depicted on the City of Mandurah coat of arms.