1. Themes
  2. A to Z

John Murray

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 379 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.

Frank Purcell

Purcell, Frank, The Prison on the bay: The story of the Victorian training ship John Murray, F. Purcell, Melbourne, 1997. Details