Vault collapse: Storm creates disturbing images

Written by By Y, a, a n, ːm, ːr, ːo, h, u, a, x, g, y

Records recorded the deaths of at least five children under the age of four in the island’s Launceston suburb of Sandford in 1824. The cathedral-like mansion, built by a family of gold miners, was built on the site of an ancient historic burial ground, and has been known as the Elgin Castle since 1901. The weather struck suddenly and heavily, breaking windows, and causing the home to drop about 4 feet (1.2 meters).

Photographer Max Brennandet traveled through the area earlier this year, and captured these unique images of the home’s history and historic architecture, in some cases, very badly damaged. The cathedral bell is still above ground, and marks the entrance to the estate.

Some of the earliest images taken on the island

Two separate charity ball halls were built in the house in the early 20th century, with one currently open to the public. It now includes meeting rooms and offices, and an observatory. In the summer season, the house also hosts live events such as yoga and photography classes.

Complete with stone pillars, a domed dome and towering high roofs, these architectural elements are prominent in the house. The most severe damage to the house, however, resulted from winds that had created massive sandstorms before the storm struck, with high tides reaching their highest level recorded in 1766, the year of the Elgin Castle’s completion.

Max Brennandet

Historians have gone back to and searched through historical sources to try to come up with the exact cause of the unusual weather, but have found no mention of or foundation report regarding the conditions on the day of the storm. Winds were so strong that they reduced the castle’s foundation and demolished nearly all of the bell tower.

Less than a year after the storm, which has since been renamed the “Sandford Severe Storm,” in 1828, the British duke of Devon built a hotel/island mansion on the site of the Elgin Castle.

The sandstorm wasn’t the only incident of intense weather to strike the area, in recent years, the Tasmanian coastline has experienced its worst weather for decades.

Max Brennandet

Ewan said that his intentions with the photographs were to show the island as it was.

“On a tour of the Middle Island on the Tasman, we saw the ruins of salt barn, once the largest in Tasmania. It was home to hundreds of people living in 20th century conditions, even against the backdrop of strong winds in the early 19th century.”

The size of the waves that came ashore in 1824 and destroyed the castle later can still be seen at high tide today. Max’s photographs suggest that the dangers of the unexpected is still very much here, decades later.

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