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Tribute to a graduate of HMAS TINGIRA

Date: 1916
Overall: 550 x 660 x 25 mm, 3.6 kg
Sight: 385 x 490 mm
Display Dimensions: 564 x 667 mm
Medium: Wood, silk, cotton, silver gelatin print on paper, glass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Embroidery
Object No: 00029825

User Terms

    This silk embroidery is a tribute to a boy from HMAS TINGIRA and his WWI service. The lifebuoy creates the frame for a photograph of a TINGIRA sailor in naval uniform. The photograph is made into a postcard and handwritten on the reverse is possibly E or C A Turner, along with the partial address 'Lakemba'.Beneath the lifebuoy is a colour photolithograph showing the procession of Royal Navy ships at the battle of Jutland (31 May 1916).
    SignificanceThis embroidery represents the legacy of an important RAN vessel that provided training of young men for naval service.
    HistoryTINGIRA, a southern Queensland and Northern NSW Aboriginal word for ‘open sea’, was originally the clipper ship SOBRAON built by Alexander Hall of Aberdeen and launched in 1866. It was the largest composite ship ever built at the time and sailed on the England to Australia route for more than 20 years.

    In 1891 the NSW Government purchased SOBRAON from Devitt and Moore and it was towed to Sydney Harbour arriving on 15 February 1891.

    SOBRAON was acquired to replace the VERNON - a floating reformatory for boys who had been dispatched under the regulations from the Act for the Relief of Destitute Children, the Act to Establish Juvenile Reformatories and the Public Schools Act of 1866. SOBRAON underwent a series of modifications and became an Industrial School Ship, or Nautical School Ship (NSS), for underprivileged boys whom the court had found destitute, or for other reasons saw it fit to hand these boys into the strict, disciplinary life on board SOBRAON, under Superintendent Frederick William Neitenstein, Lieutenant William Henry Mason, and their officers.

    Apart from being disciplined, the boys were given the opportunity to develop their skills as tradesmen and were given a basic education both moral and academic. The band was in much demand on many an important ceremonial occasion and such was the standard of their tuition and development that some of the lads found positions in orchestras. Indeed, many of them attained acclaim, both at home in Australia and overseas, in the field of sport as well as music.

    The boys were given an opportunity to learn the rudiments of a life at sea, and occasionally those who showed an interest in the sea would be taken on a short voyage to develop and further their interest. The aim of this exercise was to encourage young lads to join the navy or merchant service which at this time was undergoing a dramatic change with steam ships replacing sailing ships.

    In 1910 the Naval Defence Act was passed and in October 1911 the adoption of the title Royal Australian Navy was authorised by King George V. This same year saw the launching on the Clyde in the UK of HMAS AUSTRALIA and the purchasing of the SOBRAON by the Commonwealth of Australia.

    On 25 April 1912 HMAS TINGIRA (ex-SOBRAON) was commissioned as the first naval training ship in the Royal Australian Navy, with the motto 'Learn or Leave'. It became the training ship to thousands of young boys who chose the Navy as a career under the Department of the Navy’s boy enlistment scheme. TINGIRA did not head to sea for training, but remained moored at Rose Bay for the next 15 years.

    The first intake of boys took place between 1 and 28 June 1912, and at the date of HMAS TINGIRA’s decommissioning in 1927, some 3,168 young boys had had their initial training on board. The boys were aged between 14 years, 6 months and 16 years of age and were required to serve 7 years in the Navy after the age of 18.

    The boys experiences on TINGIRA varied - some reporting harsh discipline and bullying while others fondly remembered their time there, particularly regular trips to Bondi Beach and sporting activities in Lynne Park at Rose Bay.

    In 1929 TINGIRA was bought by W M Ford, a prominent North Sydney boat builder and floated outside his boatshed in Berry’s Bay, where it served as coal hulk, stores ship and for a short time as a hostel for the destitute men of Sydney. Ford died in 1935 and in 1936 Major Friere, a retired British army officer, and Mrs Louisa Ankin negotiated to purchase TINGIRA for the sum of £2,600, and a company was formed to convert the ship into a floating museum, but because of financial difficulties this development failed.

    TINGIRA was purchased by Karlo Selvinen who finally broke her up in Berry’s Bay in 1941-1942.

    A section of the Rose Bay waterfront has been dedicated to HMAS TINGIRA. The Tingira reserve was dedicated in 1962.

    [Source: Naval Historical Society of Australia;]
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Tribute to a graduate of HMAS TINGIRA

    Assigned title: Embroidered tribute to a graduate of the Royal Australian Navy training ship HMAS TINGIRA

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