1848 in New York City, New York. Alfred went to sea at
the young age of 15 and then enlisted in military
service and served during the Civil War in and around
New York. After the war, Bedwell was aboard the ship “Coromandel”,
a name later used by many such ships, on his way
home from New Brunswick when his ship was wrecked
off the Irish Coastline; fortunately, he was saved
by the Coast Guard who
drug him out of the sea, through the breakers.
Boarding another ship in England, the S.S. “Somersetshire”,
Bedwell arrived in Melbourne, Victoria in 1869. Upon his arrival in
Australia Bedwell worked for a few years on local
coastal vessels, before leaving for the Palmer
Goldfields in Queensland, Australia. Eventually leaving
the goldfields, Bedwell next went to Cooktown in North
Queensland where he acquired a passage by ship, serving
as a member of the crew aboard the A.S.N. Company’s
steamer “Leichardt”; named after the Prussian
explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, for Sydney, New South Wales.
In 1876 Alfred piloted his first vessel across Sydney
Harbor, one of a fleet of vessels controlled by Mr.
James Milson, whose company was the forerunner of the
North Shore Steam Ferry Company; which later became
known as the Sydney Ferries Ltd.. The North Shore Ferry
Company ran a regular service between Circular Quay and
Milsons Point and the 1893 extension of the North Shore
railway line, terminating at the tram and ferry
exchange, made Milson’s Point the hub of ferry traffic
on the north shore; before the completion of the Sydney
involved with the Sydney ferries for some 40 years and
was recognized as a both a careful and skilful skipper.
During his long period of service he had charge, at one
time or another, of two different paddle wheelers and
many of the modern screw propelled boats which came
after them. He was on the earliest ship “Darra”, the
night of the famous “Dandenong Gale” and continued
making trips until midnight; making his way through the
gale force winds with a hand steering gear mechanism.
The “Darra” was a wooden
planked hull ship on iron frames, launched by Hall and
Company at Aberdeen; one of six fast ships built for the
Orient Line and initially used as a tea-clipper in the
Indian trade. That same gale pushed ashore and
wrecked the ship “Tweed” on Cremorene Point, upon which
Bedwell had originally arrived to Australia.
Alfred Bedwell took a
wife, named Louisa, but the date of his marriage is not
known. We do know they were living together at 22
Bentwood Street in Sydney in 1910. Bedwell was also a
member the “Lily of St. Leonards Lodge”, the “G.U.O.O.F.
Loyal Windsor Lodge”
“Harbor, River and Merchants Branch of the Merchant
The Rate and Valuation
Books and the Sands Directory in Sydney, reveal Alfred
lived at No. 18 Bentwood Street, from about 1890 to
1898, and from 1901 to 1929 he was known as Captain
Alfred Bedwell at Bentwood Street in North Sydney; in
1910 he was living at No 10 and from the 15th
through the 28th at No 22, where Bedwell
owned a group of houses on Bentwood Street at Neutral
Bay, up until his death in 1930.
Alfred was always
described as a master mariner, a free holder of property
and an engineer. According to G.V.F. Mann in his
“History of North Sydney”, published in 1938, Captain
Bedwell was a well-known ferry skipper and was actively
employed for 40 years until he died.. He was at various
times in charge of the ships “Coombra Gomea”, the “Galatea”,
the “Camary”, the “Nell”, the “St. Leonards”, the
“Victoria and the “Bunya-Bunya”; all of which were
paddle boats, and of course he was in charge of the
“Darra” on the night of the Dandenong Gale in 1876.
Bedwell died July 6, 1930, at his residence “The
Anchorage” at 22 Bent Street, North Sydney, at 82 years
of age. His funeral services were provided by Wood
Coffil Ltd., Motor Funeral Directors and he was buried
on July 8, 1930 at Gore Hill Cemetery in Sydney at 82
years of age; in the Church of England Division,
Section 2 Lot 15. He was buried without a headstone.
Alfred was survived by
his wife Louisa Tibitha and one daughter. Louisa died at
the same residence on June 18, 1936 at age 79.