The last voyage of the Mediator in 1884.

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The next excerpt is from a publication in the Antillean Navigator of February 1999


Under command of captain R. Ellis the S.S. Mediator left on June 14, 1884 for the West Indies with on board 1,158 ton general cargo. After a successful trip across the Atlantic Ocean, the ship arrived on June 30 in Barbados, unloaded 91 ton cargo and left for Trinidad.

On July 1 in Trinidad 162 ton cargo was unloaded. After that the voyage continued for the harbor of La Guaira (Venezuala), where the Mediator arrived on July 3. After unloading 55 ton cargo the ship left for Puerto Cabello, where it arrived on July 4. Here only 25 ton cargo was unloaded.
On July 5, 1884 the Mediator that still had 825 ton general cargo on board arrived in the St.Anna Bay in Curacao, where it was moored. The same day the SS Thuringia of the German Hamburg-America line with a gross content of 1,964 ton performed an unfortunate maneuver by which the Mediator was hit in such a way, that she sank immediately.

Not much is known about the cargo during that last trip as can be derived from a letter from from Thos. & Jas. Harrison Ltd, Liverpool:


Unfortunately we have no knowledge of the cargo that the “Mediator” may have been carrying on her last voyage but from previous records it is apparent that she will have been on a voyage to Barbados, Trinidad, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama. She is likely to have carried a quantity of general manufactured goods and probably a large parcel of coal from Liverpool.

What happened on the day the Mediator sank is best read from a translation of an article in the local paper “Amigoe di Curaçao” of 12-7-1884:


Saturday, the fifth of this year, Curacao witnessed the worst catastrophe in the history of its harbor and pilot authority. At the Small Wharf the large English steamship Mediator of the Harrison-line was moored, fully loaded with European, American and Curacao goods and ready to leave that evening for its trip to Sabanilla.
At about 2 o’clock in the afternoon the Thuringia of the Hamburg-America Line was piloted into port, but, in spite of its engines running in reverse, still heading with such a speed toward the English freighter, that a collision could not be avoided. Soon with a thundering cracking latter ship was hit and penetrated at starboard below its water line. The Thuringia had no damage and saw its victim immediately sinking till a few feet below her deck.
Immediately one had the steam on the sinking vessel released.
About sixty workers tried to salvage as much as possible of the valuable cargo with the help of a few men of the crew.
The cargo that was loaded on Curacao was all saved and placed in a depot.
Suddenly at about half past four one could hear once again steam escaping with a shrill and painful sound: “She is dying” the crowd murmured and indeed the Mediator was approaching its last moments; a few hours later the ship made a few movements and all of a sudden it slipped from the rock where it found a support toward the middle of the harbor and in less than a minute the colossal steamship was swallowed by the waters.

Fifty or sixty workers were still on board and for a large part in the hold when the vessel started to disappear into the depth. Children, women, and even men, shuddered, wept and yelled out of horror, when they witnessed from the wharf the many, who were still working on board, fighting for their lives. With a wild fright and the agony on their faces these workers were rushing up continuously chased and threatened by the howling waves they jumped over board and, thanked God, no human lives were at stake.
The vessel itself was irretrievably lost. Through an opening of 8 feet length with a width of 2 or 3 feet, the sea penetrated holds and inner decks with roaring blows; it started a short but very heavy fight with the fires: smoke and steam revolved upwards in thick alternating black and white clouds from the turbulent waves, while glowing coals and boiling water flew out of the funnel; soon the Mediator disappeared into the depth.

The picture gallery shows entries found in the Archives of the Merseyside Museum in Liverpool. They tell the story of the last journey of this ship.