Reformatory Hulks/Training Ships
The government set up ‘nautical school ships’ as reformatories for wayward or neglected boys. On board these ships, the boys were given nautical and industrial training and instruction, elementary schooling and ‘moral training’. One of the key aims was to provide sufficient training to give the boys an opportunity to obtain meaningful employment after they left the ship.
The Industrial Schools Act of 1866 authorised the Governor to proclaim "any ship or vessel or any building or place together with any yards, enclosures grounds or lands attached thereto to be a 'Public Industrial School' ". Any vagrant or destitute child under the age of sixteen could be directed by two Justices of the Peace to attend an Industrial School and to remain the responsibility of the Superintendent until the age of eighteen, unless apprenticed out or discharged.
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John Murray Training Ship
Street Address TBA
This training ship for boys was commissioned in 1910 by the Victorian Government. The barque Loch Ryan was purchased in 1909 and converted for training purposes at Williamstown and renamed John Murray after the then Premier. The project was initiated by 'Admiral' James Boyd, MLA for Melbourne, who had a life-long passion for the sea and a penchant for important-looking uniforms. Between the commissioning and abandonment of the enterprise, 411 boys passed through the ship. The John Murray was dogged by misadventure and controversy. Allegations of 'unnatural practices' brought an odium on the ship which a Police Magistrate's inquiry in 1911 and a royal commission in 1915 were not able to dispel entirely. What was meant to be an institution for the formative training of juvenile offenders soon became a political and financial embarrassment. Established to train seamen for the navy and the merchant service, discipline was harsh and desertion rife. Fewer than one boy in five completed his training and joined other ships. Sold to the Commonwealth Government in 1918 and returned to commercial service, the John Murray was wrecked on Malden Island in the Pacific Ocean returning from her first voyage to San Francisco.
Information courtesy to eMelbourne
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