Derek George Montague Gardner (British, 1914-2007)
The Tasmanian barque Berean showing her lines in a light breeze signed 'Derek G.M. Gardner' and dated 1968 (lower left), inscribed on reverse oil on canvas 91.4 x 61cm (36 x 24in).
Designed and built for the Tasmanian trade by Pile of Sunderland, the "beautiful little Berean" was owned by T.B. Walker of London and soon made her name as the fastest of his fleet of barques. Launched in August 1869, she was registered at 542 tons gross (526 net) and measured 160 feet in length with a 30 foot beam. A composite-built beauty with decks of New Zealand Kauri pine, all her deck fixtures even her boats were in teak and she was widely admired whenever she made port. Rated A1 by Lloyd's Register for fully nineteen years, Captain John Wyrill took her from the stocks and commanded her throughout her career under Walker's colours. In all, Wyrill spent forty-two years in the Tasmanian trade and it is said that no history of that island would be complete without mention of both him and the Berean.
Berean's best ever outward run from London to Launceston (Tasmania) was 71 days, pilot to pilot, and in 1881-2 she ran home in 79 days, Launceston to the Lizard. Averaging one round trip each year, she usually left the West India Docks in May and was generally back in the Thames the following March. Such was her reliability that Lloyd's underwriters eventually offered to insure her at a reduced premium and the only two accidents she ever suffered were both due to the negligence of others. During her twenty-seven years in the Tasmanian trade, Berean frequently kept pace with many a clipper twice her size although her most famous victory was a round-the-world contest with another well-known barque of the day, the Harriet McGregor. Two years after T.B. Walker died in 1894 his fleet was sold and Berean was bought by Norwegian owners who employed her carrying ice from Norway to London. Less well-maintained but still making good passages, she remained a familiar sight on the Thames until 1910 when she was rammed by a foreign steamer near Gravesend and had to be beached in a sinking condition. Thereafter condemned, she was patched up and towed to Falmouth where she ended her days as a hulk.