Christmas Island issued in 1991 a set of stamps of which the 43c shows us the cargo vessel ISLANDER in circa 1898. At that time there was not a vessel under that name used in the transport of phosphate from the island. The first ISLANDER was used from 1902 in the transport of phosphate. I can’t find a photo of that ship so I am not sure she is depicted.
She was built as a cargo vessel under yard No 128 by Dobie & Co., in Govan for Coverley & Westray in London. 10 February 1883 launched as the ELBE. Tonnage 774 grt, 492 nrt, dim. 64.0 bpp. X 8.9 x 4.84m. Powered by a compound 2-cyl. the steam engine, manufactured by William Kemp, Govan, 98 nhp, one shaft, speed ? March 1883 completed.
1902 sold to Christmas Island Phosphate Co. Ltd., London, and renamed ISLANDER (!).
1906 Replaced by a new built ISLANDER (II), which was replaced again with a new built ISLANDER (III) in 1929.
1906 ISLANDER (I) was sold to Fujiyama Yokichi, Osaka, Japan, and renamed NICHIRO MARU.
1913 Broken up in Japan.
Source: https://www.miramarshipindex.nz and https://www.clydeships.co.uk
Christmas Island 1991 43c sg 316, Scott?
The following I found on the internet:
REPORT BY MR. L. H. CLAYTON ON HIS VISIT TO CHRISTMAS ISLAND.
Singapore, October 16th, 1900.
I have the honor to report that, in accordance with your instructions, I embarked on board s.s. SEA BELLE in the evening of September 25th. We left Singapore Harbour at 6 a.m. the following morning and arrived at Christmas Island at noon on September 29th.
Mr Clayton gives in the report how the phosphate is mined and loaded on the ships in 1900.
The phosphate is at present only being worked at and near the summit of Phosphate Hill. The coolies pick it up from the ground, where it lies in blocks, and throw it into iron trucks running down a slight incline to the head of a double line of rails, which descend for a distance of about 500 yards at a gradient of one in four. The full trucks are connected by a wire rope with the empty ones at the bottom of the incline. This rope passes round a drum, to which a hand-brake is attached. At the bottom of this rail the trucks, each one with a coolie in charge, run down a slight incline for about 300 yards to the head of the main rail, which is worked similarly to the smaller one above. This has only a single line of rails, with about 100 yards of double line at the middle for the trucks to pass one another. The length of the line is about 1¼ miles and the gradient about 1 in 10. Extremely powerful hand-brake acts upon the drum and the trucks can be brought to a standstill in a very short distance.
2. The loaded trucks run right onto a wooden platform, and the phosphate is then tipped out of them down the shoot referred to in previous reports. Coolies at the bottom again pick the stones up and place them in wooden trucks running to the water’s edge, which are emptied down a metal-lined shoot into boats.
3. By the system now in use as much as 330 tons can be loaded into a steamer in a day.
4. I understand that plant is on its way out for converting the single line on the principal rail into a double line, and also for starting a system of aerial haulage, by which the phosphate can be taken in buckets from the wooden platform at the foot of the principal rail direct to the loading-point, and, if possible, right on to the ship’s deck.
5. A crane has been brought out, and a base is now being prepared for it. This crane will swing buckets 75 feet clear of the cliff, but I think it is doubtful whether masters of steamers will be willing to bring their boats in sufficiently close for this to be used. At present they will not come nearer than about 250 feet from the cliff (which is here about 25 feet high), and they seem to require some persuasion to venture even so near.
6. Captain Vincent wishes to construct a small wharf at the loading point. He says that this could be done at a reasonable cost, as there is a narrow reef on which it could be built, and the steamers could then be brought alongside. Another suggestion is to cut a small dock in the limestone rock to accommodate one vessel. I am not qualified to judge how far the adoption of any of these projects would decrease the danger to vessels which undoubtedly does exist.
7. Captain Murphy, of the SEA BELLE, is of opinion that the safest plan for vessels will always be to anchor with their bows towards the sea and their sterns attached to a buoy. In this way, by slipping the cables, a steamer could get completely clear of the island in a few minutes if the weather should appear threatening.
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