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H3009 Model ship, 'Vernon', timber / metal, c. 1880-1890. Click to enlarge.

Ship model of training ship “Vernon”

Made 1880-1890
The "Vernon" is a good example of the early and mid-19th Century Blackwall frigates that were the mainstay of passenger trade to Australia and the connecting link between the East Indiamen and the P & O liners of the 20th century. From 1867, the " Vernon" was a reformatory and naval training ship based in Sydney Harbour.


Object No.


Object Statement

Model ship, 'Vernon', timber / metal, c. 1880-1890

Physical Description

Model of training ship 'Vernon'. Three masts, fully rigged, 3 lifeboats with oars, 30 gun ports, 1 gun on carriage on deck, starboard side steps with wide platform to waterline, port side narrow stairs to waterline, kapok floats, below gun deck both round portholes and square portholes (the latter with protective bars), deck house aft, 2 ventilators, 24 red and white water buckets. Light brown lower hull, white stripe above. White gun deck hull exterior, with black gun ports. Black upper hull to deck level with white rails.



1240 mm





Model made about 1880-1890; maker unknown.



The 'Vernon' was originally built as a 911-ton paddle steamer in 1839 by Green's Blackwall Yard, London, for the Green Blackwall Line. The external side paddles were removed after only a short period of use as her engines proved uneconomic.

As a sailing vessel, she typified one of the earliest examples of the three- masted Blackwall frigates. The Blackwall frigates were the mainstay of passenger trade to the Colonies in the 19th century and were the connecting link between the East Indiamen and the P & O liners of the 20th century. The most famous of the Blackwall frigates was the 'Dunbar', which was wrecked at The Gap in 1857.

In 1867, the 'Vernon' was purchased by the Government of NSW under the Industrial Schools Act as a nautical training ship for boys found destitute, wandering the streets, begging, abandoned or committing a crime. The 'Vernon' was moored between the Government Domain and Garden Island in Sydney and between May 1867 and July 1868, 113 boys were admitted, with some as young as three. On board, the boys were given moral training, nautical and industrial training, and elementary schooling.

In 1871, the 'Vernon' was moored off Cockatoo Island so the boys could have a vegetable patch and a drill ground and recreational area. Also on Cockatoo Island was a girls' reformatory. Problems arose as a result of “fraternisation” between the boys of the 'Vernon' and the girls at the reformatory. The girls were eventually relocated to Parramatta in 1887.

In 1892 the 'Vernon' was replaced by the much larger 'Sobraon', and while being dismantled in Kerosene Bay (now Balls Head Bay) in 1897, fire broke out and she was burnt to a husk.

Postscript: “Sobraon” continued as a Nautical School but the number of boys sent to the ship began to decline after new laws introduced a system of juvenile probation and in 1911 the boys remaining on the ship were discharged to relatives, apprenticed, or sent to the Mittagong Farm Home or the Brush Farm Home for Boys at Eastwood.


Lubbock B., "The Blackwall Frigates", Brown, Son and Ferguson, Ltd., 1973, Glasgow


Credit Line

Gift of Department of Public Instruction, 1911

Acquisition Date

2 November 1911

Cite this Object


Ship model of training ship "Vernon" 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 9 July 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Ship model of training ship "Vernon" |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=9 July 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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