Some of Bluff’s untold stories will be disclosed when the Bluff History Group in conjunction with the Invercargill City Council Parks Department host a tour of the Old Bluff Cemetery in Lagan Street, Bluff, from 1.30pm on Sunday 8 November.
A tour of the cemetery was held twelve months ago and proved extremely popular prompting the History Group and ICC Parks to hold another completely different tour this year.
This year’s tour will focus on drowning deaths, something that was sadly prevalent many years ago in the port town which is surrounded by the sea.
“Many of the drownings occurred in the harbour and Awarua Bay,” says History Group Chair, Jan Mitchell. “It is quite poignant that many of them now rest on the north slope of the Old Cemetery, overlooking the harbour where they lost their lives,” she says.
The tour will cover sixty plots and History Group research has even uncovered information on plots that are not marked, allowing the stories of these people to be told. There are many sombre tales including the graves of five men lost in the Awarua Bay arm of the harbour plus the resting place of William Moir who died on Christmas Eve 1898 and whose plot has the only timber picket fence and cross in the cemetery, entirely appropriate as he was a ship’s carpenter.
While the tour has a focus on drowning deaths it also covers ship crews, ship and wharf accidents, the grave of a Bluff firefighter who lost his life fighting a fire, a large number of deaths from tuberculosis, many children’s graves and also those of prominent people. There are the plots of stillborn babies and a representation of plots bought by Lodges for their members. Railway accidents are also covered including the loss of life of two children from the one family who drowned in the railway reservoir.
The tour will shed light on aspects of the town’s history and some of the challenges faced in Bluff many years ago.