HMAS Creswell Museum

 

HMAS Creswell Museum entrance.
Interior of the HMAS Creswell Museum.
Interior of the HMAS Creswell Museum.
Interior of the HMAS Creswell Museum.

Example Frame

About

HMAS Creswell is the home of the Royal Australian Naval College (RANC). The College rests on the shores of Jervis Bay Marine Park and is surrounded by Booderee National Park. The site is listed on the National Register and many of the establishment’s buildings are heritage listed.

A bust of VADM Sir William Creswell, KCMG, KBE sits in front of the board of Cadet Captains.
A bust of VADM Sir William Creswell, KCMG, KBE sits in front of the board of Cadet Captains.

History

The building which houses the Historical Collection has had various uses. For many years it was used as the Administrative Offices for the establishment. The telephone switchboard for the base was housed around the right side of the top storey. This building was completed in 1914 and the North Wing was added in 1920. The building was also used as the Jervis Bay Post Office. During the “Holiday Period” the building was renamed the Post Office but also became the Telephone Exchange, Bank and “Walker’s General Store”.

The original switchboard which was used from 1913-1984.
The original switchboard which was used from 1913-1984.

When the college return to Jervis Bay in 1958 the Central Registry and Pay and Accounts section operated out of the building.

The Museum is focused primarily on the history of the Naval College, the Staff and Cadets, their lives and their careers.

Topics covered in the museum include:

  • the Indigenous heritage of the area
  • the link to the Royal Navy
  • the College’s beginnings in 1913
  • the effects of WWI
  • the move to Flinders Naval Depot during the Depression
  • the Holiday Period
  • WWII and the RAAF 2nd Military Rehabilitation Unit
  • the return to the College in 1958
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam War
  • and current deployments.

Lost for 80 years – The original clock tower bell.

When the college was built between 1913-1915, the bell was installed in the clock tower by John Danks and Sons of Sydney. It rang out ‘Ship’s Time’, controlled by a unique gravity driven clock movement and chiming mechanism. In 1930 the base became a holiday resort and the College moved to Flinders Naval Depot in Victoria, now HMAS Cerberus. There is some evidence that the chime mechanism, including the bell, was moved with the college.

The original bell from the HMAS Creswell clock tower.
The original bell from the HMAS Creswell clock tower.

 

During the “Holiday Period” it has been reported by the residents of the day, that the clock still functioned but the bell never rang. In 1958 when the College moved back to become HMAS Creswell, the clock and a different bell were reinstalled and electrified. The new bell bears the Inscription ‘HMAS Creswell 1958’ and ‘Ship’s time’ was again heard across the bay. Over the years many talked about the fate of the original bell which supposedly weighed 10cwt (450kg) and measured 1 metre in diameter. The old bell was considered lost, but in 2012 the College received an email from Mr David Hoskins of Sydney which read:

In about 1956, my late father founded his own engineering company under the name Wessex Engineering. In the course of business he had dealings with various scrap metal merchants and at some time in the mid 1960’s, the driver of a scrap metal truck turned up unexpectedly at the factory and announced that his boss had told him to deliver his load to Wessex. The load in question was a large (approx 180kg) bell. It is about 20 inches (0.5m) high and about 22 inches (0.55m) in diameter at the bottom….Apparently the scrap metal dealer knew of my father’s interest in anything a bit unusual or off the beaten track. At first my father hesitated but on refection agreed to accept the scrap dealer’s offer to let him have the bell for scrap value. Just how much that was, I have no idea. The real reason I am telling you this story is that there are some hand painted markings on the bell which appear to indicate some connection with the Naval College at Jervis Bay.

The faint markings on the bell include the initials of four of the 1914 entry Cadet Midshipmen; Lovell J Towers, Percy F Dash, Otto F McMahon and Arthur H Spurgeon. Interestingly they are not the only graffiti-talented trainees that have joined the College. The inside of the clock tower, always locked, is adorned with the signatures of course after course who took the challenge and left their mark.

The bell was donated back to the College in 2012 by Mr David Hoskins and his family and now resides in the foyer of the museum.

Many well known naval personalities have passed through the College. The first graduation in 1916 included Midshipmen Collins, Farncomb, Burnett and Getting.

Duncan Grant's Cup
Duncan Grant's Cup

This cup was donated to the College by Commander Duncan Grant RN who was Executive Officer RANC from 1912-1914, Commanding Officer 1914-1915 and again Executive Officer from1915-1917. The purpose of the Cup is to drink the health of the College on the 1st of March each year. The inscription on the cup reads:

Please pass round on March 1st and drink success to the college. Presented to the R.A.N College by LEUT Duncan Grant R.N, March 1913.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Us

Due to the current security and staffing restrictions access to the HMAS Creswell Museum is by appointment only. Research services are not provided, however, enquiries may be directed to creswell.museum@defence.gov.au. We will endeavour to respond as soon as we are able.

Postal Address

The Curator
HMAS Creswell Historic Collection
Building 126
HMAS Creswell
Jervis Bay ACT 2540