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HMCS NELSON in the new Alfred Graving Dock

Date: 21 March 1874
Overall: 414 x 282 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00006163
Place Manufactured:Australia
Related Place:Williamstown,

User Terms

    The Victorian colonial warship HMCS NELSON is shown here undergoing work in the Alfred Graving Dock, Williamstown, Victoria. The Dock's memorial stone was laid by HRH Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh in 1868, as part of the first royal tour of the Australian colonies. It was completed in February 1874 and NELSON was one of the first ships to use it.
    SignificanceHMCS NELSON stands as a symbol of the colonial defence forces in Victoria; its figurehead of Admiral Lord Nelson is held in the National Maritime Collection, on display in the Navy gallery.
    HistoryWhen launched in 1814 HMS NELSON's ship design was already outdated and in 1859 came the first of many conversions and alterations. NELSON was cut down to a two-decker, lengthened and fitted with a steam engine and single screw.

    In the 1860s the Government of Victoria (Australia) requested a vessel from the British Admiralty in order to train local naval volunteers. HMS NELSON was accordingly fitted out and commissioned as HMVS NELSON in 1867. From 1868 to 1891 it was a familiar sight on Victoria's Port Phillip Bay. In 1878-1881 further modifications were undertaken reducing the ship to a single-decker. NELSON was paid off in 1891, her boilers removed in 1893 and the remaining ship sold to a Sydney buyer, Bernard Einerson in 1898.

    Towed to Sydney, the ship was slowly dismantled and the figurehead given to the NSW Naval Brigade. What remained became a coal lighter, then a coal hulk and finally in 1920 NELSON was completely dismantled in Tasmania.

    The figurehead itself has a less well-recorded history. After being given to the NSW Naval Brigade in 1898 and being proudly displayed at the Battle of Trafalgar centenary celebrations in 1905, it spent much of its time at the parade grounds of Rushcutters Bay. When the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) came into existence in 1911, the figurehead was transferred (date unknown). At a later date it was then transferred to HMAS CERBERUS in Victoria - the RAN's training establishment - and remained on open display until being transferred to the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) in 1988.

    From The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 21 October 1905
    The Royal Sydney Exchange will today be decorated with patriotic and national emblems. A feature of the decoration will be the figurehead of the old sailing ship Nelson, built in England some 70 or 80 years ago, and the first vessel named after the hero of Trafalgar. The ship was presented to the Victorian Government, and for many years was used for training purposes. She subsequently was sold, and came to Sydney, where she is still to be seen, or rather what remains of her, in this harbour.'
    Additional Titles

    Web title: HMCS NELSON in the new Alfred Graving Dock


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