Thursday, December 22, 2016

Draught of HMS Sirius

The Norfolk Island Museum is the custodian of artefacts recovered from the wreck site of the HMS Sirius.  This week we received a copy of a ‘draught’ of His Majesty’s Ship to complement this significant collection of First Fleet material.

In maritime terms we generally think of the draught or draft being the measured vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull, but in this instance we are referring to a scale drawing by the late Fred. ll. ‘Spring Esquire who was considered to be the Australian expert on draughts of British Ships of the Line. 

Fred Spring was a former draughtsman for Qantas whose scale drawing included British Spitfire fighter plane. His original drawing of the draught of the HMS Sirius (formerly known as the Berwick) was prepared for the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, he described the drawing as follows, “The draught of the HMS Sirius was compiled from the Original Sheer Draught taken off her body in the Single Dock at Deptford January 14th 1782. Mastings and Riggings were taken from Standards Specifications and Formula as laid down by the Naval Establishment”. 

John Shortland, a lifelong friend of Fred, has kindly donated the only copy of this drawing to our museum.  John visited Norfolk Island along with historian Cathy Dunn on her ‘History Lovers Tour’ in 2014 it was during this time he indicated he might like to make this donation. And so… this drawing comes to Norfolk Island with Cathy Dunn and is presented to our museum on behalf of John.

John has his own family connection to the HMS Sirius, descended from John Shortland Junior, 2nd Mate who was stranded on Norfolk Island in March 1790 after the ship wrecked on the reef at Kingston.  He left Norfolk Island in 1792 aboard the HMAT Supply eventually making his way back to England.  Appointed Lieutenant on the Reliance he returned to NSW in 1794, together with the new Governor John Hunter and Henry Waterhouse 2nd Captain (also originally of the Sirius).  John and Henry bought the first pure merino sheep to NSW from the Cape of Good Hope, selling to John McArthur, founder of the Australian Wool Industry.  In September 1797, while in pursuit of escaped convicts, he discovered the Hunter River and named it for his former Captain John Hunter of HMS Sirius.

It is with great appreciation we say thank you to John Shortland for this wonderful donation and to Cathy Dunn for the personal delivery and historical detail.

Janelle Blucher