Historical information

The Annual Meeting presenting the Annual Report was held on the 21st of September 1886 at the Melbourne Athenaeum.

In the Standard (Port Melbourne, Vic. : 1884 - 1914), Saturday 25 September 1886, page 2


This institution held its annual meeting in the Melbourne Athenæum on Tuesday evening under the most favourable auspices. The hall was filled in every part, a very large pro portion of the audience being seamen. The half hour previous to the com mencement of the meeting was very pleasantly occupied bv listening to the

capital playing of the band of the Naval Brigade, and precisely at eight o'clock the musicians heralded the entrance of the vice-regal party by playing ' The National Anthem.' Sir Henry and Lady Loch were received by the Mayor of Melbourne (Mr. Stewart), the Hon. F. T. Derham, Captain Pasco, Mr. H. R. Reid (hon. secretary), and Lieutenant - Colonel Templeton, and His Excellency imme diately took the chair. The venerable ex-chaplain, the Rev. Kerr Johnson, was present, but as he did not feel equal to taking part in the proceedings, the Rev. E. T. Miles opened the meeting with prayer. Nothing could have been more cal culated to give a distinctive character to the meeting than the singing of the

Sailors' Hymn by the 300 odd seamen present. The rugged yet tuneful voices of the men blending with those of the ladies present, who heartily joined in, gave a most spirit-stirring effect to the beautiful words of the refrain : — Rocks and streams I'll fear no more, When on that eternal shore; Drop the anchor ! furl the sail ! I am safe within the vail. Next followed His Excellency's address as chairman. The Governor threw himself heartily into the pro ceedings, and his remarks, expressive of the utmost sympathy with the sea men of the empire, were applauded to the echo. In fact from the start all the speakers struck the right key-note. The institution was not held up as a charity on which Jack was more or less dependent. According to the gentlemen who one and all welcomed him as a friend, and a right useful friend too, the thing was all the other way. To the sailor it was, they de clared, that they owed all that the colony possessed, and more — the great ness and prosperity of the Empire, He was the sort of man who never turned his back on a fellow creature, or refused to give a hand to a comrade in distress. Therefore it was deter mined that Jack should not come to these shores and think there were none to care for the comfort of his body or the welfare of his soul, and with the object of greeting the sailor on his arrival, of grasping his hand as a friend, beguiling his hours on shore, and saving him from the scores of dangers and temptations which beset a sea-faring man's stay in port, the institution had in '57 been started. Its claims on the Victorian public, not as a charity, but as a means of show ing some recognition of the services of the brave men who man our mercan tile marine, were ably put before the meeting. The Rev. G. D. Buchanan de clared that if the Melbourne merchants contributed to the mission a tithe of the amount they spent in insurance, they would find their goods better looked after by the seamen than by the insurance companies. Captain McCallum, the treasurer, read the following report of the com mittees of the Port Melbourne and Williamstown Rests : — In no part of the Queen's dominions have there been more changes during the last thirty years than in the colony bearing her gracious name ; and it is therefore all the more pleasant to report that the Victorian Mission to seamen, which started so long ago as 1857, still pursues an active career of usefulness, holding out a helping hand to mariners of all nations, without distinction of colour, race or creed. Eight years ago, some of the supporters of the Mission, feeling the want of a Temperance Club, where the crews of the various ships might recreate themselves and enjoy the three ' C's' — Coffee — Comfort — Company, appealed to the public for assistance, resulting in sufficient funds being obtained to justify the establishment of Sailors' Rests at Sandridge and Williamstown. Both these institutions were opened by a distinguished gentleman who has always taken a practical interest in sea men, and who, but for illness, would have been present at this meeting — Sir W. F. Stawell — and the result jof several years' experience fully justifies the statement that these institutions have supplied a felt want — the attendance of visitors reaching now about 30,000 per annum ; whilst so economically are they managed, that the annual cost to the public is less than L150 The thanks of the committee are specially due to those ladies and gentlemen who so kindly made a special and successful effort to supply both of the Bests with new piano fortes, to the great enjoyment of ' Jack ashore.' The instrument which was pre sented to the Port Melbourne institution by Mr. J. M. Bruce, on behalf of the sub scribers, the funds having been collected by his daughter yet in her teens, being espec ially one of great value. Concerts free to all seamen, given by amateur singers, are held weekly on both sides of the bay, and are largely attended and much appreciated. The building at Port Melbourne, which, being of wood, is merely of a temporary character, is free from debt ; but there is a mortgage of L500 on the Williamstown institution, which cripples its usefulness. The committee have regretfully to report that during the year under review they have lost, through the weakness of increas ing years, tbe loving services of the Rev. Kerr Johnston, their venerable friend and chaplain, whose life is, indeed, the history of the Mission, for he has been connected with it from the commencement of the work. Mr. Johnston has proved himself a true disciple of his Divine Master, and the com mittee trust that in the evening of his days he may enjoy that peace and rest which he lias so well earned. The com mittee presented Mr. Johnston, on retiring, with an honorarium of L100. Mr. E. James has been appointed iu Mr. JohuBton'u room, and the committee believe that their choice lias been a fortunate one. The Mission aud Sailors' Bests have been kept afloat by the unwearied and self -deny-ing exertions of the Ladies1 Committee, who have personally collected nearly the

whole of the income ; but it may fairly be asked whether, in this great seaport, where last year there entered in at Her Majesty's Customs 1711 ships, manned by 61,256 men, the mercantile community of Melbourne should net take a more active interest in the welfare of the thousands of brave men who, for a few weeks, temporary sojourners on our shores, away from friends and relatives, have a special claim on our sympathy and help. We are of the old land, ' that gem sunk in the silver sea and we can re-echo Mr. Gladstone's recent words to the crew of the yacht Sunbeam, ' The calling which you follow is a noble one, and is calculated to bring forth the highest qualities of our common nature ; ana if it is possible for any occupation to make a man, in the highest and wideBt sense of the word, it is ' the occupation to which your lives are given. How closely it is connected with the the prosperity and fame of tbi» great nation ; how closely, indeed, it is connected with advancement of civilisation, and tiie general welfare of the world, it needs no words of mine to tell yon, for in your work and life you know it well, and feel it truly.' Look ing at what we Victorians owe to the British sailor, the committee earnestly trust that, with the blessings of the Almighty God, increased success will attend the work of the Mission and Rests. Mr. James read the chaplain's re port: — Since my appointment as chaplain to tbe Seamens' Mission, I have met with greater success than I anticipated. I have visited all the ships that have come into port, also many of the vessels on the Yarra, and am pleased with the civil and courteous manner in which I have been received by captains, officers and men, and in most cases my invitations to them to attend our meetings have been most heartily responded to. . The attendance at the services in the Bethel has much improved — on some occasions scarcely sitting room is to be found. The services have proved a great blessing to many Christian seamen ; whilst several who have come into port caring for nothing of a religious nature, have left praying. God fearing men, with the request that those left behind would remember them in their supplications, that they should be kept through all the trials and temptations to which seamen are exposed. The weekly Tuesday evening concerts got up bj the ladies of the committee and others, have proved a great benefit to the Mission, and a source of great enjoyment to the seamen in port. The programmes are excellent; and are spoken of by the sailors as the best they have heard in any port. The Sailors* Rest is provided with a library, the daily papers, and illustrated literature, with games of chess, draughts, dominoes, quoits, and other amusements, which are much taken advantage of during the evenings. Seamen ' are alio provided with writing materials, free, bo that everyone may have any opportunity of writing to their friends; for many an anxious parent is counting the days and hoping for .the time to come when they shall get a line from their sons in the far distant land, and many a son is reminded of his obligation by the opportunity thus afforded. I am much pleased at this time to acknowledge the kindness of the committee, and the great help I have received from them, also from Mr. Douglas, the manager of the Best. I do not think I could have been blest with a better co-worker. I have no hesitation in recommending the seamen to go to the Best, and telling them that they will receive a most hearty welcome, to which they can all testify ; my thanks are due to the voluntary workers, who have given every assistance ft their power, especially to Miss Lloyd, who is an invaluable help, attending in all weathers, and playing the organ at every service. The Sunday School is progressing, and we aie now about to make another addition to the library, of good readable books. The work at Williamstown is also pro gressing well, the Wednesday night concerts being well attended, and the singing and reciting supplied by local talent really good; the sailors contributing largely to the programmes. Captain McCallum is the backbone of the work at Williamstown, well supported by many warm friends of the sailors. The services held every Sunday night are productive of mnch good. The work here, too, is very encouraging, having much improved of late. I am thank ful to God that He has so blessed the efforts of His people, and hope they may be long spared to carry on the work. The Rev. G. D. Buchanan in an eloquent speech proposed the first re solution : — ' That the Reports now read be adopted, and that the following ladies and gentlemen be the Committee for the ensuing year : — SEAMEN'S MISSION. Ladies Committee. — Mesdames Templeton, Campbell, Chamberlin, Elworthy, Lormer, Gourlay, Gowan, B. Johnston, Webb, Young, Plummer, Misses Elwortny, Webb, Gowan, and M. Hastie. Gentlemen's Committee. — Captains Pasco, R. N., Adams, McCallum, J.P., Dalgarno, Garside, Messrs. Courtis, A. J. Smith, Macpherson, H. R. Reid, J.P., Henry Berry, J.P., Revs. Kerr Johnston, and A. R. Edgar.' Captain Pasco seconded, and in formed the audience that Baron Von Mueller had written regretting his inability to attend, but had sent a substantial cheque. (Applause.) A collection was then taken up and liberally responded to, the band mean-time playing airs suitable to the occa sion, such as ' The Death of Nelson' and ' Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep.' The hon. F. T. Derham next pro posed the second resolution : — ' That the success which has attended the working of the Port Melbourne Sailors' Rest justifies this meeting in taking imme diate steps to raise the funds necessary to erect a Seamen's Institute worthy of the in creasing trade and commerce of Victoria.' This was seconded by the Rev. A. R. Edgar, and both were carried by ac clamation. The Mayor of Melbourne moved a vote of thanks to His Excellency, and Sir Henry in the course of his reply said his sympathies were not only with sailors because he had been much brought into contact with them, but because he had been a sailor himself and had had the honour and privilege of serving in Her Majesty's navy. At this the men sprang to their feet and gave three deafening cheers for the Governor and another for Lady Loch, who bowed her acknowledgment and appeared very pleased at the hearty reception accorded to her. During the evening Mrs. Pearce, and Messrs. Walsh, Woods, and Robinson, members of the Liedertafel, contributed songs. The lady, who has sung at the Tuesday evening concerts, sang ' When the Tide comes in' so charmingly that an encore, although against the rule of the evening, was insisted upon, which was responded to by a beautiful rendering of the old ballad ' Robin Adair,' Altogether the meeting was a com plete success, and will doubtless afford the committee fresh encouragement in their well-directed efforts.

Physical description

Printed programme for the 1886 annual meeting taking place in the Melbourne Athenaeum

Inscriptions & markings

Written in black ink at the back by WHC Darvall: