SOBRAON was built
by Hall and Co. of Aberdeen, Scotland as a tea clipper to the order
of Lowther, Maxton and Co. and launched in November 1866. She was
the largest composite (iron and timber) sailing ship ever built and
was constructed of solid teak with iron beams and frames. Her lower
masts were of wrought iron and her topmasts steel. With all sails
set her spread of canvas was just over two acres. She contained 27,000
feet of 9 x 6 teak and some 50,000 feet of 4 x 2
New ZeaIand Kauri.
SOBRAON was not
used in the tea trade and from the outset of her career she loaded
as one of Devitt and Moores monthly line of Packets to Austra
in, taking out passengers and general merchandise and returning with
passengers, wool and wheat. In 1870 Devitt and Moores bought
her outright. She made one voyage a year sailing from London in the
late September and from Melbourne early in February.
She was chiefly
known as a crack passenger clipper arid SOBRAON never formed one of
the wool fleet, whose sailing times from Australia were
for most of the ships during the period October to early January.
Her accommodation for passengers has been stated to be unrivaled in
any sailing ship built, the first class saloon stretching from the
stern to the foremast being 200 feet in length. The second class saloon
took up the remaining space between decks, excepting 20 feet in the
eyes of the ship. She averaged 90 first class and 40 second class
passengers on the outward run and a few less when homeward bound.
SOBRAON sailed to Sydney but thereafter from 1872 until 1891, Melbourne
was her only Australian port of call, always returning via the Cape
of Good Hope, and calling at St Helena.
Her fastest voyage
to Sydney was 73 days, and to Melbourne 68 days. On the latter run
she passed Cape Otway on the morning of the 60th day out, but was
then delayed by light variable winds, which prevented what had pranised
to be a 61 day passage. Most of her outward bound passages were between
70 and 78 days but she was never hard driven in the wanner of earlier
clippers on the Australia passage. Nevertheless, runs of 300 nautical
miles on the outward passage were frequent and she logged 340 nautical
miles in twenty-four hours. On one voyage she covered more then 1000
miles in three days, and over 2000 miles in a week of sailing.
On her maiden
voyage SOBRAON was commanded by Captain Kyle. On her second outward
passage Captain J.A. Elsnslie assumed command and he retained it throughout
the remainder of the ships sea-going career, a period of 24
years. Under Captain Elmslie she normally carried a crew of 68: 4
officers, 8 apprentices, carpenter, sail]maker, boatswain, engineer,
2 boatswains mates, 26 able seamen, 4 ordinary seamen, 16 stewards,
2 stewardesses and 2 cabin boys.
commenced his sea-going career in 1842, and for several years served
in ships trading to India and China and later on the Australian run
in the well known Blackwall frigates, LA HOGUE and PARRAMATTA. Prior
to taking ccmmand of the SOBRAON, he was master of the ill-fated COSPATRICK
from 1863-1867. He was elected a Younger Brother of Trinity House
on 1st September 1868 and would have been later elected an Elder Brother
but was debarred because he never served in a steamship.
In 1889 SOBRAON
was fortunate to escape destruction by a severe storm north of the
Crozet Islands, and was considerably damaged by three day of continuous
buffeting by mountainous seas. Twice she caught fire, firstly in 1884
when straw in a hold was accidentally lit by the carpenter, and again
in 1888 when coal stored in the fore peak ignited by spontaneous canbust
ion. On both occasions tragedy was averted by prompt action by her
On her last voyage
fran England SOBRAON arrived in Melbourne in mid December 1891 and
after discharging sailed to Sydney where she was taken over by the
New South Wales Government for use as a Reformatory Ship.
In 1911 on the
formation of the Royal Australian Navy she passed to Commonwealth
control for use as a Boys Training Ship. In May of the same year,
Commadander Charles L. Lewin, RN, was appointed as the first Carrnander
of the Training School. On 18th Novextber 1911 Navy Order No
81 promulgated information that SOBRAON would be renamed TINGIRA.
in the Royal Australian Navy on 25th April 1912 and on 1st June the
first batch of 37 boys recruited by New South Wales joined for training.
These were followed by drafts from other States to complete the first
intake of 100 boys. Entry was limited to boys between the ages of
14 and a half and 16 years. Recruits were bound to serve for seven
years following their eighteenth birthday. Minimum height standards
varied from 4 feet 10 inches at 14 and a half, to 5 feet 2 inches
at 16 years, with chest measurenent 29 inches to 32 inches.
The last draft
of TINGIRA boys began their training in 1926 and in August that year
recruiting of boys ceased. On 30th June 1921 TINGIRA paid off for
disposal. In the fifteen years and one month of her RAN commission
2,941 boys were trained in her to take their place as sailors in the
Fleet. Tingira remained moored at Garden Island or Rose Bay for her
entire naval career.
On 3rd November
1927 TINGIRA was sold to Mr. W.M. Ford of Sydney who took possession
and removed the old ship fran Garden island on 22nd November 1927.
In 1935 she was purchased by Mr S. Friere of the Southern Hemisphere
Company, Roseville, Sydney, for breaking up.
was to commence again when 34 Years later in 1960 the RAN opened the
Junior Recuit Training Establishment at HMAS LEEUWIN, Frematle, Western
Once again the
navy recruited 15 and 16 year old boys for full time, permanent naval
service. This continued unitl 1986 when JRTE was finally closed. You
may read about JRTE by clicking HERE.