For eight days in 1848 Wellington shook. Grave Story #2.
For the new European settlers the days of earthquakes were a nasty shock. Many of them had never been through one, or even heard of them.
At the end of it, 80 buildings were destroyed, and three people were dead.
Barrack Sergeant James Harris Lovell was walking along Farish St with his daughter Amelia, 4 and son William. 6 when bricks fell and crushed them during an aftershock.
They were immediately dug out but Amelia had already died while William and his father died in hospital.
They were the first Caucasian people killed by earthquake in New Zealand.
It was one of the biggest earthquakes experienced, reckoned as a 7.5 on the Richter scale - but back then considered a 10 on the old scale used, the most severe of magnitudes and originated in Marlborough.
He and his children are buried in the Bolton Street Cemetery where there is just a memorial stone on the wall.
The earthquakes, which started on October 16, preceded by a severe storm and continued for eight days, were a revelation to settlers. When the first one struck many rushed about, not knowing what was going on or how to respond.
The Wellington Independent newspaper wrote “about half past one o’clock am this morning (Monday), a distant hollow roar was heard, the counsd travelling at the most rapid rate, and almost instantaneously, in the course of a few seconds of time, the whole town was labouring from the most severe shock of an earthquake ever experienced by the white residents, or remembered by the Maori.”
As they continued it was devastating for Wellington. A great many building were built of brick and stone, just as they were in their home countries. It was quickly discovered that bricks and stones came crashing down.
It would lead to a revolution in the building of wooden buildings in Wellington as wooden building had fared better.
Commercial buildings, barracks, the jail and the hospital were damaged and patients were taken to Government House for treatment.
The day after the largest of the shakes the tide rose, overflowing what was then Lambton Quay.
In fear people sought to flee Wellington, some opting to try for Australia. Many boarded the barque Subraon to sail for Sydney but there was no escape. The barque ran ashore at the Wellington Heads where she was wrecked.
All the passengers were saved but found themselves back in the city they had tried to escape.
Mr Justice Chapman wrote of a strange illumination in the sky following the biggest shake, a weird lurid light that lit up the night sky while Mary Waring Taylor, writing to her good friend, author Charlotte Bronte said it had a great impact on immigration.
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