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H3204A Naval telephone, made by Alfred Graham & Company, Crofton Park, London, England, c.1911, used in connection with the engine room of 1913 battle cruiser H.M.A.S. Australia, 1913-1924. Click to enlarge.

Ship's telephone used on 1913 battle cruiser HMAS Australia

    This early naval telephone, made in England by Alfred Graham & Co. in about 1911, was used on board the 1913 battle cruiser, HMAS Australia, to communicate between the bridge and the ship's engine room.

    Britain had 'ruled the waves' for well over a century, allowing it to import food and raw materials and export manufactured goods almost unhindered, and it wanted to retain that lead despite Germany's rise as an industrial power. This arms race was one of the factors that led to the outbreak …


    Object No.


    Object Statement

    Naval telephone, made by Alfred Graham & Company, Crofton Park, London, England, c.1911, used in connection with the engine room of 1913 battle cruiser H.M.A.S. Australia, 1913-1924

    Physical Description

    This 'loud-speaking' hands-free voice-activated phone is made mainly of brass, and some parts are painted white. The speaker's voice caused a metal diaphragm to vibrate, which moved a wire coil within a magnetic field. This generated sufficient current to power the phone.



    370 mm


    290 mm


    220 mm



    The phone was made by Alfred Graham & Co, the company that also supplied phones to the Royal Navy and the Titanic.



    The naval telephone was installed on HMAS Australia during construction at John Brown's Clydebank Works in Scotland. An Indefatigable class battle cruiser, Australia was the first flagship of the Royal Australian Navy.

    The ship was laid down in June 1910, launched in October 1911 and commissioned in June 1913. It served during the First World War, winning battle honours at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, in 1914 and the North Sea from 1915 to 1918. After the War it served briefly as a gunnery training ship on Westernport Bay in Victoria.

    British officials determined that the ship would be scuttled under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, a disarmament agreement aimed at reducing the chances of another world war. The treaty implicitly recognised that the rapid build-up of naval firepower had contributed to the pressure for war in 1914.

    The German fleet was interned at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands of Scotland in 1918 and scuttled there by its own sailors in 1919 to prevent the ships becoming spoils of war. The Treaty of Versailles, signed a week later, severely restricted the ability of Germany to rebuild its navy. The Washington Treaty was signed in 1922 by the Allies who had fought Germany: the UK (representing the British Empire), USA, Japan, France and Italy. All agreed to destroy some of their own ships and restrict future naval expansion. Russia was not included in the treaty as war, revolution and post-war British action had left it with very few ships.

    Navy personnel removed some equipment from the mothballed HMAS Australia before a Melbourne-based group of businessmen won the tender to remove further equipment and material. Led by salvage operator George Wright and supervised by naval officers, a team of men carried out this work at Sydney's Garden Island naval base. Some of the brass was fashioned into souvenirs to help the salvage syndicate recoup their investment. The ship was scuttled off the coast near Sydney on 12 April 1924.

    In August 1924 the Defence Department's Navy Office donated several items from the ship to this museum. Other salvaged equipment was donated to universities, technical colleges and municipalities. This engine was acquired at an unknown date by Sydney Technical College's School of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and used there for teaching purposes before being donated to the museum in 1970.


    Credit Line

    Gift of Navy Office, Department of Defence, 1924

    Acquisition Date

    4 August 1924

    Cite this Object


    Ship's telephone used on 1913 battle cruiser HMAS Australia 2023, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 4 February 2023, <>


    {{cite web |url= |title=Ship's telephone used on 1913 battle cruiser HMAS Australia |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=4 February 2023 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}