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Zzyzx

Anything that didn’t fit in elsewhere

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A collection of items that, while about or related to St Helena, did not justify a page of their own or fit into any of our other pages.

This page is in indexes: Island History, Island Place, Island People, Island Activity, Island Structures, Island Nature, Island Detail

Zzyzx Saint Helena Island Info

Below: Richard FarrellWhich Graveyard?What had been painted?Popular, but…The ‘Good Hope Castle’ Fire, 1973Mystery Helicopter - Resolved!Skandi Admiral: Supplying passing shipsWoodcuts of St Helena?Estimated international arrivalsPopulation GraphicPortraits of Lt. Gen. John Skelton and his wife Mary Moore Cassamajor SkeltonOld photographsAn End to Isolation

Why this page is called ‘Zzyzx’

Zzyzx is the last word that appears in the online dictionary ‘Wiktionary’. It is actually a place name in California and various other things. It seemed a more interesting name than ‘Sundry’ or ‘Miscellaneous’. We could have called it ‘ort’, meaning a small scrap of food left after a meal is completed, but we didn’t.

It should be noted that the contents of this page may be fluid. At the time we add an item here it may not fit in anywhere else, but as Saint Helena Island Info continues to develop, we may find a better place for it and thus remove it from here. So if this page is empty please don’t contact us!


Richard Farrell 

In the Records for 21st February 1861 we read that:

Richard Farrell of the St Helena Regiment is convicted for shooting at a sergeant ‘with intent’ and sentenced to be transported to Western Australia.

We have actually managed to trace{1} what happened to Richard after he left St Helena.

He was 22 at the time of his trial, married with one son and by profession a Horse Breaker. Upon conviction he was held in our Prison and then despatched back to England to be held in Pentonville Prison pending transportation. On 25th September 1863 he set sail on the convict ship Lord Dalhouse with other felons who had committed heinous crimes such as setting fire to a haystack, stealing a sheep and kicking a superior officer (though there were murderers and rapsts too) - 270 people in total, none of them women. The ship arrived at the Swan River Colony in Western Australia, just south of Perth (today called Fremantle).

He appears to have had a real attitude problem when he arrived in Australia, making threats, assaulting another prisoner and refusing to obey orders, but despite this he qualified to receive a ‘ticket of leave’ in 1869, just 6 years after his arrival. Once a convict had his or her ticket of leave they were allowed to work for themselves, marry, or to bring their families to Australia. Apparently Richard’s attitude changed dramatically once he was ‘free’. He worked hard at several jobs and eventually became self-employed at his old trade as a horse breaker. Australian horses were very highly prized in Asia and he traded them with Singapore.

He wanted his wife, Mary, and his 10 year old son, Robert, to join him and he petitioned the Government to reunite his family. Sadly for him the Government’s letter to his wife was Returned, Not Known.

In 1874, Richard received a Conditional Pardon - this meant that he was free as long as he stayed within the colony or ‘Government Limits’. He was still not allowed to return to England or Ireland (or, presumably, St Helena) - only an Absolute Pardon would permit this. In 1889 (aged 50) he was working in Dandaragan, 170Km north of Perth.

We do not know when he died, or where he was buried.


Which Graveyard? 

There was some debate on Facebook™ about this photograph:

Which Graveyard 1? Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Which Graveyard 1?

Some thought it showed the old Middle Graveyard, now the site of the Community College (formerly AVES). Others thought it had been ‘flipped’ (as below) and was actually the Lower Graveyard, now site of the Duke of Edinburgh Playground.

Which Graveyard 2? Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Which Graveyard 2?

Debate centered on whether the tall building visible behind the trees was Foresters’ Hall (Lower Graveyard theory) or the Mechanics’ Hall (Middle Graveyard theory). Discussion was finally settled when it was observed that, if this is the Lower Graveyard, then the building at the bottom of the picture (dark stone, two windows, single storey, apex roof) would have to be what is currently the London Gift Shop, which it clearly isn’t because the latter is a very old two-storey building with a flat roof. So it was agreed that this is the Middle Graveyard - first image above.

Unless you want to argue otherwise, in which case please contact us.


What had been painted? 

We came across the following in an old newspaper, and are curious to know exactly what had been painted to cause such anger. If you know, please contact us.

So what had been painted? Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx


Popular, but… 

Governor Guy Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Governor Guy

Governor Geoffrey Colin Guy was a reasonably popular Governor, and when in 1981 he finished his term he did not sail away into the sunset as most have, he retired to the island, buying Farm Lodge. Perhaps missing St Helena political life, in 1984 he stood for election to the Legislative Council in the St Paul’s West district. This is the election report from the St Helena News Review of 11th May 1984:

Wednesday was Polling Day in the St Paul’s West Electoral Area. Voting commenced that morning at 10 o’clock and continued throughout the day until the Polling Station closed at 6 p.m. The counting of votes began at 7,30 p.m. and at 8.15 the Returning Officer announced the following results:

Geoffrey Colin Guy - 25 votes

Isaac Douglas Hudson - 38 votes

The Returning Officer accordingly declared Mr Hudson to have been duly elected to serve as a Member of the Legislative Council for the St Paul’s West Electoral Area.

40% of the vote is respectable, but this perhaps tells us a lot about the relationship between Saints and their Governor. However well liked s/he may be, the Governor is imposed on St Helena - its people have no influence over who is appointed. But in a by-election they get to choose who speaks for them…


The ‘Good Hope Castle’ Fire, 1973 

This isn’t a Lost Ship story because the ‘Good Hope Castle’ did not sink, but it’s an important tale from our history and it had to go somewhere…{a}

On 1st July 1973 the Union Castle Line offices in London received contact from St Helena reporting that the ‘Good Hope Castle’, due in on 30th June from Ascension Island, was overdue. Reports from both Ascension and St Helena were that the ship could not be reached by radio. It was later reported from Ascension that the ship had been reported ablaze thirty-five miles south-east from Ascension.

It transpired that fire had broken out on 29th June some hours after leaving Ascension. A broken lubricating oil pipe to the starboard main engine turbo-blower sprayed oil onto an exhaust manifold, and before the resulting fire could be extinguished it spread through the engine-room casing into the accommodation. The eighty-two passengers and crew took to the boats, and were rescued 36 hours later by the steam tanker, ‘George F. Getty’ and returned to Ascension. There were no serious injuries and it seems the only life lost was that of a small dog that could not be coaxed from under its master’s bed and had to be abandoned.

The stricken Good Hope Castle photographed from Sister Ship Southampton Castle on 2nd July 1973 24 miles off Ascension Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
The stricken Good Hope Castle photographed from Sister Ship Southampton Castle on 2nd July 1973, 24 miles off Ascension

On the night of 1st-2nd July the ‘Good Hope Castle’ was sighted by her sister-ship the ‘Southampton Castle’ some twenty-four miles off Portland Point, Ascension, with a thirty degree starboard list, but no sign of fire or smoke, and with the port propellor visible in the swell. The photograph (right) was taken by on of the passengers on board the ‘Southampton Castle’.

On 4th July the ‘MV Clan Malcolm’ located the ‘Good Hope Castle’ and reported her again burning. By the next day much of the superstructure had been destroyed but the hull was still apparently sound. The West German ocean salvage tug ‘Aabatross’ was called to provide assistance, and on 7th July ‘Good Hope Castle’ was boarded by a Union Castle Line Superintendent who reported that there were no flames or smoke, but that the deck was severely buckled and hot, with the Bridge and accommodation completely gutted. Two days later the tug was alongside and able to put pumps aboard and prepare a towing connection.

‘Good Hope Castle’ was towed to Antwerp, arriving on 18th August where she was inspected and then sent to Bilbao for repairs. There were completed and she left Bilbao on 19th May 1974, arriving at Southampton to resume her position in the mail service to South Africa, starting on 31st May 1974.


Mystery Helicopter - Resolved! 

Some time ago we posted as below. We are grateful to all the contributors (further below) but are pleased to annonce that the mystery has now been resolved. John Coyle contacted us with more information about his photo, as follows:

The photo was taken by me in either 1968 or 1969, when I believe HMS Zulu was in the bay. I am also sending you a better quality scan!

That’s good enough for us and we now consider the mystery resolved.

Our original query

We have seen the image below, thought to date from the early 1960s, of a Navy helicopter landing on the lawn of Plantation House. We are curious to know what ship launched it and when it was visiting. If you can help, please contact us.

Mystery helicopter Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Mystery helicopter{b}

Responses

We hreceived three replies:

  1. My guess is that it’s from HMS Leopard or HMS Lynx, which visited St Helena together 15-17th August 1959 (see royalnavymemories.co.uk/hms-leopard-1st-commission). I remember the RM Band concert.
  2. Firstly, it appears HMS Leopard and HMS Lynx were Leopard class Frigates, which didn’t have a flight deck, so couldn’t have launched this helicopter. The helicopter is a Westland Wasp anti-submarine helicopter. A helicopter with large number 442 and airframe number XT439 is registered to HMS Zulu. The website helis.com, gives more detail on Westland Wasp XT439. It was in service from 13th December 1965 to 25th March 1986. It was known to have served with 845 Naval Air Squadron; and with 829 NAS on board the frigates HMS Ajax (F114), HMS Zulu (F124) and HMS Rhyl (F129), and possibly others. So we know which helicopter airframe it is, we just don’t know which year or which ship it was from. From photos of Wasps, the paint colour for the numbers seemed to change from white to black in about 1983 (approximately June). XT439 was delivered in 1965, so the photo is between 1965 and probably about 1983.
  3. I looked up XT439 Westland wasp C/N f.9609 on the Helicopter Database www.helis.com/database/cn/213 and the 442 call sign was only used between Aug 1977 until c Jul 1979, whilst it was on board HMS Zulu. On 5th Sept 1977 HMS Zulu departed Her majesty’s Naval Base Devonport in Plymouth as part of Task Group 317.6 for a 7½ month Australia and Far East group deployment, led by HMS Tiger. They would have travelled down the west coast of Africa before going around the Cape before heading for Australia. With that in mind it would have been between 5th Sept 1977 and 21st April 1978 as per the HMS Zulu’s records.

Skandi Admiral: Supplying passing ships 

In February2016 this website was contacted by the Vessel Superintendent of the tug Skandi Admiral with an unusual request. The message said the tug and payload would be passing St Helena at the end of February and could we put them in touch with an island merchant who could provide them with some essential supplies?

Naturally we were keen to help. We emailed the likely local merchants and Thorpe’s responded. Negotiations then proceeded between Thorpe’s and the Skandi Admiral, as a result of which a sizeable bag of supplies was taken out to the tug as it passed and winched aboard.

We’re glad to have helped!

Scandi Admiral and payload Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Scandi Admiral and payload

Approaching the Scandi Admiral Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Approaching the Scandi Admiral

Supplies being winched aboard Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Supplies being winched aboard


Woodcuts of St Helena? 

St Helena? Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx St Helena? Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx

These pieces of inlaid wood marquetry, apparently from the early 19th century, state that they show St Helena. They certainly look a little like St Helena, but are far from exact. We think they are Pastiches, probably done from memory. What do you think?


Estimated international arrivals 

The following chart was incorporated into an article ‘Airport Opens Up Opportunities On St Helena’ published on Money Web on 7th November 2013. The article appeared on our Read articles about St Helena (Older) page, but has now been archived to our Much Older St Helena Stuff{2} blog. However we thought the data presented in the chart might still be useful.

Estimated international arrivals Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx


Population Graphic 

Population Graphic 2016 Census Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx

What this graph shows is the population of St Helena, broken down by gender and also into age bands. The blocks are figures from the 2016 Census; the lines are figures from the 1998 cennsus (before full UK Citizenship was restored to Saints).

What can clearly be seen is all the ‘missing’ people in the 20-40 age band. These people are working overseas, in the UK, Falklands, Acension Island or elsewhere.

The general effect of the ageing population can also be seen; a global issue!


Portraits of Lt. Gen. John Skelton and his wife Mary Moore Cassamajor Skelton 

In 1815 these people kindly gave up their summer residence in Longwood so that it could be used to house the exiled Napoleon (their winter residence was in what is now the Post Office). The property is now known to the world as Longwood House. But this couple rarely get even a mention in the history books, so we thought we would include their portraits here:

Lt. Gen. John Skelton Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx Mary Moore Cassamajor Skelton Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx

The Skeltons befriended Napoleon, and visited him on many occasions. Governor Lowe actually accused them of carrying clandestine corresponence for the prisoner, though nothing was ever proved. They left St Helena on 14th May 1816.


Old photographs 

Problem with mynah birds Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
We caption this picture: Clearly mynah birds were a problem in the ‘before days’ too.

Here are a few more for interest or amusement:

Jamestown school 1906 Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Jamestown school, 1906

George Singer memorial St. James’ Church Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
George Singer memorial, St. James’ Church

 


An End to Isolation 

Broadcast on New Hampshire Public Radio, 21st July 2015{3}

The tiny island of Saint Helena remains one of the most inaccessible places on earth, but that is about to change as a British government-funded airport opens in the spring of 2016. Filmmaker Dieter Deswarte made two short films about life on the island for the BBC and he’s currently working on a feature-length documentary about life on the island.

Closing Humour Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx

Laugh at funny Zzyzx humour LOL Saint Helena Island Info


Credits:

{a} Text amended from a Facebook™ posting by Paul Blake, based on the account of the ship’s Captain, Peter Ascroft. Photograph by Ann Blake. Used with permission of the posting author.

{b} John Coyle



Footnotes:

{1} members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/convicts/con-wa34.html.

{2} See more blogs.

{3} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.



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