The Jane Gifford Society, Warkworth, New Zealand

The Jane Gifford: Memories: Jane Gifford's Voice

Jane Gifford's Voice

When the restoration committee at Waiuku acquired The Jane Gifford in 1984, it was missing its bell. There had always been a bell on board to advise the crew of watch changes and as a warning device in fog.

Until then the Jane Gifford had never had its own specially cast bell but that all changed when Peter Dawson, the Managing Director of Air Transport presented the vessel with one. When presenting the bell Peter told those assembled this story of how he came to be donating a ship's bell.

"In January I was sailing on the Jane Gifford and was conscious of something missing on the scow. Then it came to me the ship had no voice. There was no bell. The following week I went to England on business but the missing bell was still bugging me. Eventually down in Greenwich I saw in a ship's chandler shop exactly what I was looking for, a bell for the Jane Gifford. The bell looked right, it sounded right and what's more, it was a proper ships bell cast to comply with the Shipping and Seamen's Act. All bells have a cast number and by locating the number I was able to get hold of the bell's 'birth' certificate.

The certificate states the foundry, its location, the date of casting and that the bell conforms with all the regulations pertaining to the carrying of a ships bell. The Jane Gifford now had a voice, she has a bell along with the certificate to complete her personality."

Upon Peter's return to New Zealand he had the bell engraved "Jane Gifford 1908" on the bell housing, the clapper and the arm support, inside the lip he had engraved his own name. The bell was then presented to the then Operations Manager, Doug Cooper. It seemed that the voice of the Jane Gifford was home.

In March of 2007 Peter and his wife, Jill came to New Zealand to celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary and to visit the Jane Gifford under its present restoration at Robertson's Boatyard in Warkworth and noticed that somewhere, somehow the bell had been lost.

Understandably Peter was upset and concerned, he wanted his dream realised and to re-present his generous and thoughtful donation to be installed on the newly restored Jane Gifford. Peter left having seen the restoration work being done at that time determined to locate 'the voice'. After many enquiries, phone calls and the help of the archivist at the Waiuku Museum the bell was located and collected by Peter.

After a lot of 'elbow grease' Peter has bought the now beautifully polished bell here to Warkworth for safekeeping and he is looking forward to seeing 'the voice' installed for the re-launching of the Jane Gifford in 2008.

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