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Ceramic port bottle commemorating the decommissioning of Cockatoo Dockyard in 1991

Date: 1991
Overall: 215 x 120 x 120 mm, 755.33 g
Medium: Ceramic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Steven Adams
Object Name: Port bottle
Object No: 00047696
Place Manufactured:Australia
Related Place:Branxton,

User Terms

    This commemorative port marks the end of more than 130 years of Cockatoo Island's varied docks and shipbuilding facilities and the end of an era of major shipbuilding in Sydney waters.
    SignificanceMaterial associated with the closure of the island in 1991 signifys the importance of the island to Sydney Harbour's history and that of Australia's shipbuilding past.
    HistoryCockatoo Island is the largest island in the port of Sydney and has had a varied life having been used by colonial, state and commonwealth administrations from the period 1850 to 1991. The Aboriginal name for the island was Biloela - meaning black cockatoo. It is this Australian parrot which features as the dockyard crest.

    The island's first use by Europeans was as a penal colony and later as one of Australia's major dockyard and shipbuilding facilities. In 1839 buildings were constructed on the island as a prison for convicts transferred from Norfolk Island. In succeeding years it was used as a reformatory school for women 1870-1888; a prison for petty offenders, vagrants and prostitutes 1888-1908; was transferred from NSW to Commonwealth ownership in 1913 and became a premier shipbuidling facility. Under Commonwealth control it was administered by the Naval Board 1913-1921; the Shipbuilding Board of Control 1921-1923; and the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board from 1923 to 1933. In February 1933 the Cockatoo Docks & Engineering Co Ltd and the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board signed an agreement to transfer operations to the Company. New agreements were signed in 1954, 1963 and 1972.

    In 1947 the Company was purchased by Vickers Holdings Pty Ltd and the name changed to Vickers Cockatoo Dockyard Pty Ltd. It was changed again in 1984 to Cockatoo Dockyard Pty Limited when Vickers Australia merged with Commonwealth Steel Co Ltd.

    Most people know it as Codock - after the telegraphic address of 1933.

    In 1986 Codock was acquired by Australian National Industries (ANL) and the following year was listed by the government as a Commonwealth asset to be sold (the lease with ANL was due to expire in 1992).

    On 31 December 1991 Cockatoo Island Dockyard was decommissioned although remained open for administrative purposes only. In late 2005 the island came under management by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust who are attempting to revitalise it as a landmark harbour attraction.

    ANMM museum ships have a particular connection with Codock - HMAS VAMPIRE was built there and HMAS ONSLOW underwent major and minor refits there.

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