7th December 2009

The  bell from a former coastal trading vessel  made $7050 in some of the most spirited and determined bidding seen at a local Wanganui auction for a while.

As well as the bell, a 1908 print of former world single scull rowing champion Billy Webb in action on the Whanganui River fetched $560, auctioneer Brian Hayward said yesterday.

The Guyton St auction house  had been "busy and happening",  Mr Hayward said.

The two unique items closely associated with Wanganui's past had created a lot of interest, he said.

Both items had fascinating historical stories attached to them, with special significance to  the city.

"And the good news is they have both stayed in Wanganui."


The bell was from the Wanganui Shipping Company vessel River City, a regular on the Wanganui-Lyttelton-Timaru route during the 1950s and early 1960s.

"Captain Stewart sailed the ship back to New Zealand from the builders in Holland in 1951, with a crew of 14. Its cargo was the first lot of Lockwood Homes to arrive in New Zealand," Mr Hayward said.

"It was also the last ship to sail from the town wharf, due to the Cobham Bridge being built.

"It is now under 50m of water in Vanuatu and is used as a diving school.

"The Billy Webb print is significant in that  it shows where his actual course was.

"Rather than being downriver, he raced on a section of river just beyond Mosquito Point called the Webb Mile," Mr Hayward said.

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