Home' The Wellingtonian : November 29th 2012 Contents 3
THE WELLINGTONIAN, NOVEMBER 29, 2012
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Maritime relic's future in peril
Varied life: The hull of the wrecked Inconstant, with a warehouse constructed above it.
Photo: ALEXANDER TURNBULL LIBRARY
The Inconstant was built in
Nova Scotia, Canada, in
1847. It was wrecked at the
head of Wellington Harbour
in 1849 because it missed
its stays and hit the rocks
It was then towed into
Wellington Harbour to be
used as a warehouse and
bond store by John
Plimmer. Later it was
housed in the
harbourmaster's office and
was the first jetty in
Wellington, used as a
landing place for
In 1883 it was dismantled
and its remains were buried
underneath the National
Mutual head office.
The Inconstant is
significant in New Zealand
because it is one of the few
surviving examples of
wooden shipbuilding and
the only one to have
undergone a monitored
By ANTHONY SCADDEN
Inconstant at the
Old Bank Arcade.
Closed for business: Plimmer's Gallery is out of commission owing to
Photo: AMY JACKMAN
A notable piece of Wellington s
maritime history is at risk of
being banished to spend its final
years hidden away in a ware-
Wellington City Council plans
to relocate the remains of the sail-
ing ship Inconstant, or Plimmer s
Ark as it became known, from its
current position between Shed 6
and the TSB arena to dry storage
in a warehouse at the end of Janu-
The council says it does not
have room for the old ship at the
After the council relocates there
while the council building and the
town hall are undergoing earth-
quake strengthening, the TSB
Arena is to be fitted out for use as
a conference centre.
Wellington Museums Trust has
been charged with moving the
We don t have a choice in the
matter, said Brett Mason, the
trust s director of museums.
It s a domino effect with the
town hall move. Unfortunately,
we re at the end of it.
The Inconstant has been
undergoing preservation work for
several years. The council has
spent more than $2 million on res-
toration work on the Inconstant
since it was excavated from its old
berth, beneath the Old Bank
Building, in 1997.
We ve finished two of the three
main preservation stages, mari-
time archaeologist Jack Fry, who
is also a conservator on the relo-
cation project, said.
At present, the Inconstant lies
in a liquid polyethylene glycol sol-
ution, but if it is taken out at that
stage, it could potentially be lost
forever, Mr Fry said.
We don t know what will hap-
pen to the unpreserved timbers
yet, Mr Mason said.
The parts of the hull that are
being conserved are still continu-
ing to be conserved.
The move will be in two parts. It
is hoped that the already pres-
erved parts of the vessel can be
moved before Christmas.
Mr Fry said he regretted the
uncertainty surrounding the fate
of such a significant piece of the
city s heritage.
Historical importance is
becoming an extinct species, he
Society of New Zealand members
are hurriedly campaigning to keep
the remains in the best condition
We re campaigning to raise
money to control the humidity in
the warehouse, said society presi-
dent Ken Scadden. It has to be
less than 50 per cent.
Preservation that has been car-
ried out on the Inconstant is simi-
lar to that on significant wrecks
such as England s Mary Rose and
Australia s Batavia.
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