Robert Vere Kingston Townshend 1917 - 2011
Robert Townshend passed away peacefully on 23rd October 2011 aged 94 yrs . He was a grandson of Eva Townshend nee Carmichael and probably the last person alive to have known her personally.
Mr Townshend's audio taped address in 1978, marking the centenary of the Loch Ard disaster, gave us a great insight into early life with his grandmother and the mischevious exploits of her wayward older brother
great "Uncle William".
Towards the end of his life, Robert decided to sell a gold watch which the family had owned for three generations. The watch, manufactured by James Mc Cabe in 1814 had originally been purchased in Dublin by Robert's great grandfather, Dr Evory Carmichael who perished when the clipper Loch Ard sank in 1878.
In the aftermath of the wreck , 51 souls had been lost, but only four bodies were recovered. Miraculously, one of them was that of Mrs Rebecca Carmichael, on whom the watch was accidentally discovered in the folds of her dress shortly before her burial. The time piece had been fated by tragedy, yet saved by providence.
Its two hundred year journey now ended, the spectacular time piece will be perpetually on display at the Flagstaff Hill Museum for thousands of visitors to enjoy. It will stand as a tribute to Robert Townshend that the Mc Cabe watch has been so carefully preserved over the years. In his description of the antique, David Hansen of Sothebys observed " It still keeps time and in it, time stands still." In a final twist of fate, the watch is perpetually linked to Hugh Gibson who died in Mulwala N.S.W. on 25th October 1911, exactly 100 years to the day the auctioneers hammer assured its future at Warrnamnbool.