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Sir Robert Archdale Parkhill inspects a ship's figurehead at Snapper Island, Sydney

Date: 20 July 1935
Medium: Emulsion on glass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Glass plate negative
Object No: 00024971
Place Manufactured:Snapper island
Related Place:Snapper island, Sydney,

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    This photograph depicts Federal Minister for Defence Sir Robert Archdale Parkhill (in a bowler hat), inspecting a ship's figurehead at Snapper Island in Sydney on 20 July 1935. Minister Parkhill presented badges to the cadets for their part in building the depot as a national memorial to HMAS SYDNEY I, which had been decommissioned in 1928 and scrapped in 1932. The figurehead came from the iron bark GWRTHEYRN CASTLE, built 1876. This ship was acquired by Scott Fell in 1922 and converted to use as a coal hulk in Sydney in 1923. It was still in use in 1929. The figurehead was part of the Leonard E Forsythe Collection displayed at the Sydney Training Depot on Snapper Island. Australian examples of ship's figureheads and bow decorations are extremely rare, and in 2008, the ANMM acquired the figurehead as part of the National Maritime Collection.
    SignificanceThe Samuel J Hood photographic collection records an extensive range of maritime activity on Sydney Harbour, including sail and steam ships, crew portraits, crews at work, ship interiors, stevedores loading and unloading cargo, port scenes, pleasure boats and harbourside social activities from the 1890s through to the 1950s. They are also highly competent artistic studies and views - Hood was regarded as an important figure in early Australian photojournalism. Hood’s maritime photographs are one of the most significant collections of such work in Australia.
    HistorySnapper Island, Sydney Harbour's smallest island, was declared a public recreation reserve in 1879. In 1913, the Royal Australian Navy assumed control over the island as part of its jurisdiction over nearby Cockatoo Island. In 1930, Leonard E Forsythe convinced the Australian Government to lease him the island so that he could convert it into a training depot for naval cadets.

    About 50 boys were recruited as Navy Sea League Cadets to work on the island and convert it into a land-based ship. Over the next few months, around 1,000 tonnes of rock was blasted away in order to flatten the island. The stone walls of the island were also sculpted in the shape of a ship, facing the suburb of Drummoyne. The cadets also used parts from HMAS SYDNEY I which they salvaged when it was stripped at Cockatoo Island in 1932. Forsythe's vision was that the island would be a national memorial to the town class cruiser.

    On 20 July 1935, Federal Minister for Defence Sir Robert Archdale Parkhill conducted an inspection of the island and the Navy Sea League Cadets and awarded the cadets badges for their part in transforming the island.
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    Web title: Sir Robert Archdale Parkhill inspects a ship's figurehead at Snapper Island, Sydney

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