Bluff history revealed at cemetery

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SOME of Bluff’s untold stories will be revealed when the Bluff History Group, in conjunction with the Invercargill City Council (ICC) Parks Department, hosts a tour of the Old Bluff Cemetery this Sunday.

A tour of the cemetery was held 12 months ago and proved popular, prompting the history group and ICC to hold a different tour this year.

This year’s tour will focus on drowning deaths, which was sadly prevalent many years ago in the port town.

“Many of the drownings occurred in the harbour and Awarua Bay,” Bluff History Group chairwoman Jan Mitchell said.

“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.”

The tour would cover 60 plots and history group research had uncovered information on plots which were unmarked, allowing the stories of these people to be told.

There were 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 had the only timber picket fence and cross in the cemetery, entirely appropriate as he was a ship’s carpenter.

While the tour would have a focus on drowning deaths, it would also cover 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 would be plots of stillborn babies and a representation of plots bought by Lodges for their members. Railway accidents would also be covered including the loss of life of two children from the one family who drowned in the railway reservoir.

The tour would shed light on aspects of the town’s history and some of the challenges faced in Bluff many years ago.

  • Old Bluff Cemetery tour, Lagan St, Bluff, from 1.30pm, Sunday, November 8.
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