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Memento : Issue 21
9 september 2002 memento obert Le Maistre is a familiar face in our Adelaide reading room. Perhaps it's his name (pronounced 'mate') but more likely it's his love of ships that has steered Robert's work as a dedicated maritime historian. He has spent the last four years trawling through our records for information on Coast Steamships Ltd, which provided freight and passenger services to many South Australian ports from 1875 to 1966. Lighthouse keepers' journals, ships' logs, customs files and shipping registers have all been ably explored by him, revealing many dramatic and poignant seafaring stories. Tales of the hardships of lightkeeping abound, including the story of young Muriel Turner's family who lived on Althorpe Island. In 1910 this lighthouse keeper's daughter picked up a detonator which exploded, shattering three fingers of her left hand. It took six days of unsuccessful signalling to passing steamers before Muriel and her mother were rescued by the steam tug Euro and taken to Wallaroo for medical treatment. Some 30 years later, medical treatment was also required on board the SS Quorna on its 1944 voyage between Eyre and Yorke peninsulas. As no horse box was available, a horse was tethered on the main deck just outside the smokeroom. When stewardess Reta Bawden opened the door to go on deck, the horse took umbrage and kicked the door, which struck Reta in the face and flung her back into the smokeroom. These and other South Australian maritime events mentioned in our records are being meticulously recorded by Robert, creating a comprehensive chronological index which has already proved extremely useful for staff and other researchers. As a retired Customs officer, Robert's personal knowledge of many maritime records is invaluable. Keen to help others navigate them, he has also produced a single comprehensive index to the Register of British Ships. Registers were maintained by the Customs department in each Australian capital city and selected ports, and provide technical and ownership details of ships. Spanning nearly 150 years, these registers are available on microfilm in each of our reading rooms -- and Robert's index will shortly be joining them. So set your course for our shipping collection, and with our hard working mate's guiding hand, your research will steam ahead. Robert Le Maistre, a diligent researcher at our Adelaide office. hard working ships' mate Collection of the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney. Reproduced courtesy of the Museum. R