Mystery surrounds piece of port history

Mystery surrounds piece of port history

EASTLAND Port is hoping to solve a maritime mystery that could stretch back over 100 years.

The mystery is the origins of a hefty cast steel anchor found during archaeological investigations done while developing the port’s new Wharfside log yard.

Archaeologist Lynda Walter believes that, with the historic find having been buried under an old road bed, it likely dates back to the early 1900s. Had it been pre-1880s it would have been made out of iron.

Found beneath what was previously The Esplanade behind Wharf 6, the anchor is about 1.5 metres across the arm from fluke (tip) to fluke and the same in height – though it has snapped towards the shackle end.

“The unique thing, the beautiful thing, about this anchor is the curve of the shank . . . that’s something I have never seen before,” Lynda Walter says.

While New Zealand Maritime Archaeologists Association experts are looking at elements like the chain connecting point that could offer a clue to its origins, she is hoping someone, somewhere might have some useful information.

“Until 1996 when much of the old Kaiti Freezing Works buildings were demolished, Esplanade Road used to run along the waterfront (where the log yard is now) and then joined up with Kaiti Beach Road,” she says.

“Because that road alignment was done shortly after the 1900s there is a good chance the anchor has been buried since that time but we would love to have confirmation of that.”

Consent to construct the Wharfside log yard was approved earlier this year and its operation is subject to conditions including increased stormwater treatment, intensive monitoring and sediment sampling, and time lapse photography of stormwater discharge.

That is in addition to cultural heritage initiatives – such as the archaeological study – carried out as part of the construction.

Meanwhile, until its origins are uncovered, the weighty anchor is in the care of ports infrastructure manager Martin Bayley, who is also keen to learn more about it.

“At this point in time it is a bit of a mystery object . . . no one really knows where it came from or what kind of vessel it came off,” he says.

“There is a lot of really interesting history around here and we’re hopeful someone in the community knows something about this one.”

Image: Archaeologist Lynda Walter and Eastland Port Infrastructure Manager Martin Bayley with the mysterious anchor.
Image credit: Louise Savage.