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Embroidery SS GUTHRIE Sydney to Singapore March 1907

Date: 1907
Overall: 750 x 790 mm
Medium: Linen
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Donald McLean
Object Name: Embroidery
Object No: 00047968

User Terms

    HistoryAnnette Mathilda Wilhemina Lewis married Martin MacGilivray in 1909. She met him whilst on the GUTHRIE in 1907 whilst on a voyage to England via Canada. According to family history, when MacGilivray returned to port a daughter was waiting for him, and he and Annette were 'instantly married'.

    SS GUTHRIE was a passenger ship of 2,338 tons, 314 ft in length (92.7 m) built at Sunderland in 1884. It was originally owned by the Eastern and Australian Steamship Company Ltd operating from Melbourne via Australian and eastern ports to Japan. In 1904 Burns Philp bought the ship and operated it on the Australia to Singapore service, until they sold it to a British buyer in 1912 - the time of the sale of the GUTHRIE, suggesting Annette's embroidered pillow case was commemorative.

    Martin MacGilivray started his career with Burns Philp Co. as third engineer on the TITUS in 1902, promoted to second engineer on the GUTHRIE in 1905 and to Chief Engineer of the INDUNA in 1907. He resigned as Chief Engineer of the MATARAM in 1915 to take up a shore position. He served with the Australian Commonwealth Line from 1917 to 1928. He then went back to Burns Philp & Co. and was Chief Engineer of the MAIWARA when in died in 1938 or early 1939 in Rabaul.

    Burns Philp represents an important and unique chapter in Australian shipping history. Originating in a trading company in Townsville, Queensland, in the 1870s, Burns Philp developed its own shipping line and trading empire throughout northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands. By the 1920s it was a household name. It operated a fleet of large main-line ships in conjunction with a fleet of smaller inter-island ships. Its main-line ships ran regularly as far a field as Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Burns Philp passenger liners were well known with their black and white checqued funnels and the Burns Philp thistle on the house flag. Many Burns Philp captains were legendary colourful figures, and the company's name conjured up the romance of the South Seas.

    During World War II both ships and personnel were taken into war service, and the company's specialised knowledge was put to use by Allied commanders. The company's flagship, its then new liner BULOLO, in particular had a distinguished war record, when it was requisitioned into the British Royal Navy and served in both hemispheres. One of the company's liners, the NEPTUNA, was destroyed in the Japanese raid on Darwin in 1942 with the loss of 45 lives.

    The company resumed operations and commissioned new ships after World War II, but sold its last ship in 1971. In the 1980s the company made vast operating changes which severed its connection with its shipping past.

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