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ANMM Collection Reproduced courtesy of Stephen Bartley

The Flying Squadron in Sydney Harbour in 1869

Date: c 1915
Overall (unframed): 620 x 1025 mm
Overall (framed): 810 x 1220 x 100 mm
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Transferred from the National Gallery of Australia
Object Copyright: © Stephen George Bryan Bartley
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00047850
Related Place:Sydney Harbour,

User Terms

    The 1869-1870 cruise of the British Royal Navy's Flying Squadron was the first of its kind 'to visit all our distant shores'. Rear Admiral Sir Phipps Hornby (after whom the Hornby lighthouse is named) was the Commander-in-Chief of the British Pacific Fleet at the time and led the cruise which left England on 19 June 1869 and arrived back on 15 November 1870 having visited South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Hawaii and South America (again). During this time each ship and each crew member (officer and sailor alike) was put through thorough training and naval exercises. Other purposes of the Squadron's cruise was to show the British flag in the colonies and cement British naval power around the world. This painting shows the Squadron in Sydney Harbour where they spent 14 days.
    SignificanceThis work highlights the Royal Navy's strength and commitment to its colonies.
    HistoryUntil the formation of the Royal Australian Navy in the early 20th century, Australia's coastline was patrolled and guarded by ships on the Australia Station - Royal Navy ships which were stationed in Sydney and undertook regular patrols and visits around the coastline.

    Visits by special fleet formations such as the Flying Squadron cemented the ties between Britain and the colonies. Also each ship had intensive training routines in operation throughout the cruise. Their importance lies not just in the political and defence ties but also in the the social aspect of their visits - special events were arranged in each port ranging from informal teas to formal balls. In Sydney the officers and crew were variously entertained at a ball at Government House, a visit to Sydney University, a cutter race on the harbour and a number of lunches. As well special visitors were shown aboard. Repairwork was undertaken by Cuthbert's Shipyard.


    Of note here is the fact that Midshipman William Creswell was on board HMS PHOEBE - he went on to become Vice Admiral Sir William Creswell, chief of Navy 1911-1919 and the founding father of the RAN.

    From The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser of Thursday 16 December 1869 comes the following report, indicative of the interest shown in the visit of the Flying Squadron:

    On Sunday afternoon the six ships of war, composing the " Flying Squadron," under the command of Rear Admiral Hornby, arrived at Sydney. The tide was then ebbing out, and the draught of water of some of the ships being large, it was thought prudent to anchor inside the Heads, and run up to Sydney on Monday. Doubtless as has been the case at Melbourne, the Flying Squadron will be the chief "lion" of Sydney during the stay there, and we shall hear of numberless fetes and parties and other modes of showing Sydney hospitalities to the the officers of the Squadron. For the information of any of our readers who may contemplate visiting Sydney during the limited stay of the ships there, we condense from the full reports in Monday's Sydney papers a few particulars of the ships and their officers.

    There are six steam-ships of war, four frigates, and two corvettes, forming the Squadron, the Liverpool, Endymion, Liffey, Phoebe, Barrossa, and Scylla. They have all been built since the year 1854, but neither of them, we believe, represent the class of immensely powerful ships, carrying few but extremely heavy guns, which forms the distinguishing feature of naval ship-building of late years. The largest ship, the Phoebe, was originally built to carry 50 guns, as a first-class frigate of the old style of wooden sailing ships. The Barrossa, corvette, is said to be the swiftest of the six ships, under sail, but the Scylla is also swift.

    The Liverpool, the flagship, Captain Hopkins, of 30 guns, has 500-horse power steam engines, working a powerful screw propeller; she has a crew of 411 seamen and marines, besides the 55 officers of all grades. Rear-Admiral Hornby, whose flag she carries, is the youngest Admiral in active service in the British Navy.

    The Endymion, Captain Lacey, of 21 heavy guns, is the newest built vessel in the squadron (1866). She is a screw steamer, having engines of 500-horse power, working up to 2800-horse power. Her crew includes 47 officers of all grades, and 478 sailors and marines.

    The Liffey, Captain Gibson, of 30 guns, is also a screw steamer, of 600 horse-power, work- ing up to 1800, and has a crew of 472 seamen and marines, besides 49 officers of all grades.

    The Phoebe, Captain Bythesea, the largest ship, now a screw steamer of 30 guns, bas engines of 500 horse-power, working up to 1700. Her crew numbers 524 seamen and marines, besides 52 officers of all grades. She is of 2896 tons register.

    The Barrossa corvette, Acting-Captain Hand, is also a screw steamer, of 17 guns, and has engines of 400 horse-power, working up to 1300. Her crew musters 226 seamen and marines, besides 32 officers.

    The Scylla, Captain Herbert, also carries 17 guns, and is a screw steamer, of 400 horse- power, working up to 1200. Her crew, besides 31 officers, numbers 299 seamen and marines.

    The midshipmen muster strongly in the Squadron. There are in the Liverpool 19, Endymion l8, Liffey 22, Phobe 24, Barrossa 9, and Scylla 12; making a total of no less than 104 midshipmen. The whole of the officers amount to 266.'

    Additional Titles

    Web title: The Flying Squadron in Sydney Harbour in 1869

    Assigned title: Painting of Sydney Harbour with the first flying squadron to circumnavigate the world in command of Admiral Hornby

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