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Mission to Seafarers Victoria Docklands, Victoria

As an island Nation, Australia relies on seafarers. The work of the Mission to Seafarers is a way of acknowledging their work and hardships, by provision of support.

All seafarers and port workers are the unsung and unknown front line key workers for the movement of essential cargo to keep all countries’ wealth and health stay afloat during this extraordinary time.


Contact Information

717 Flinders Street Docklands Victoria 3008 (map)
+61 03 9629 7083

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717 Flinders Street Docklands Victoria

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The collection focus is on the Mission to Seafarers Victoria organisational history and the communities surrounding it - seafarers, the Anglican chaplaincy and philanthropic groups, such as the Ladies Habour Lights Guild. The collection spans from the late 1800s to the present day. It comprises documents, books, photographs and objects.


The Mission to Seafarers' heritage collection and building is of at least state significance (architectural). The buildings and several collection items are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register (H1496) and the National Trust Register (B4588) due to their representativeness of the Arts and Crafts and Spanish Mission styles. The collection holds historical significance because of its importance to Australia's cultural history through its representation of national maritime welfare and migration themes. The collection holds social/spiritual significance as a place of strong or special association with national and international seafaring community, and with the national and international Anglican Church movement and prominent philanthropic groups and individuals.

Margaret 12 October 2016 5:42 PM

I am researching a Mariner who arrived allegedly on the "Essex" - date unknown but it would have been before 1872 when he married at the Fitzroy Registry Office. His name was Alexander Bothwell from Aberdeen Scotland. Would there be any records going back that far? Do you research for queries ? If so, how much ? Thanks.

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3 items with documents

3 items

Art installation - Leap of the Heart: Ultramarine perspex oval shape by Dagmar Udhe

Mission to Seafarers Victoria, Docklands

Ultramarine ovoid shaped perspex plaque attached to the wall in the entrance of the Mission (Flinders Street).

Historical information

Information for the brochure ( Construction in Process VI The Bridge, Melbourne Event: March 21-31 1998 Exhibition April 1-30 1998 During Construction in Process (CIP) III at Lodz, Poland in 1991, Emmett Williams and other participating artists initiated the idea of a biannual "performance" of their project in different cities and sites around the world. In the first instance, CIP was a response to the strictures of museum contained commodification of art practices and the dissolution of communism. And with this agenda in mind, their events affirm the active participation of international artists with local infrastructure and site specific materials. The organisation of the 1998 CIP in Melbourne, titled "The Bridge", took Richard Thomas, Katherine Armstrong, Gail Davidson and the legion of others over two years of dedication. And they brought off one of the most open-ended, logistically challenging conceptual events this metropolis has witnessed. The following photo essay provides a personal survey of the "The Bridge", as I saw it transpire around me. German artist Dagmar Udhe created several art installation in Swanson Dock and the Mission. This plaque was placed either in the dome or outside the dome. It may have been forgotten or left intentionally by the artist.


From the brochure: «Dagmar Uhde, from Berlin, installed her Leap of the Heart: dedicated to the maritime workers of the world at East Swanston Dock on a community assembly sign at the picket line. This work was the final installation constructed under the rubric of The Bridge. Dagmar Uhde's other contribution was an ultramarine oval perspex installation, For the Seamen of the World, in the dome of The Mission to the Seamen in docklands."

Framed Photograph - Ebenezer James, Chaplain Mission to Seamen 1886 - 1901

Mission to Seafarers Victoria, Docklands

Black and white gloss print photograph of 19th Century bearded man ; new wood frame, cream window mount ; glazed with perspex, composition back board.

Historical information

see makers comments above. Rev James was also Chaplain to the Naval Forces of Victoria until the time of Federation. The article featured in the Port Gazette seems to be a profile of James and his works and headline being: "Jack's Friend"


Rev Ebenezer James one of the early Chaplains based at the Mission to Seafarers. He ministered to and advocated on behalf of the seagoing fraternity both merchant and Naval forces and was an instrumental force in the stamping out of the practice of crimping and the exploitation of seafarers. He received and forwarded the letter from 22 sea captains (MTSV 0030 requesting the establishment of a Mission in the vicinity of the Australian Wharf. James' brother was an MLC and his daughter Britomarte is also noted with an entry in the ADB. The original clipping image of James is the only known existing image.

Inscriptions & Markings

Verso - Texta inscription catalogue number : MTSV 0707 also 2 Labels on backboard of frame one a barcode and one handwritten "EBENEZER JAMES / CHAPLAIN, MISSION TO SEAMEN (1886 - 1901)

Sketches, digital copy

Mission to Seafarers Victoria, Docklands

Digital copy files sent in March 2019 by architect Stuart Webber after a visit to the Mission. Along with two sketches he submitted, he sent a document telling how the bar came to life in 2005.

Historical information

"26th March 2019 In contribution to the historical account of the Mission to Seafarers, Melbourne. To whom it may concern, In 2005, the Mission to Seafarers’ Padre Bevil Lunson assigned an upgrade to the existing bar and gift shop. The brief outlined alignment with health code and liquor licence regulations, rethink of stock display and aesthetic upgrade of white peg-board and fluorescent-lit display-case. Two students of architecture answered the call and provided pro bono design, building and installation services. Beyond the updated flooring, work surfaces and new hand-wash point their ethos of sustainable design presented a strategy of redressing the existing on a shoe-string; helping minimise trades and protect the heritage substrate. A new standing-bar was proposed to envelope the display case and re-orient the hall back toward the stage. Punters were directed to the seated-bar for purchases. The chosen palette aimed to anchor the bar below the hall’s half-timbered dado-line utilising the muted tones of recycled materials. Glass bottles set in resin diffusing panels and timbers sourced from throw-outs were dressed and composed to suggest the multiple approaches to a calling of the sea. This flotsam and jetsam was intended to provide a shifting background that is representative of the many walks of life that support and are supported by the mission. Two uninstalled elements further accented the design: -the flying angel logo was to appear hovering within the bar’s archway and also inverted by the dado-line in the bar’s rear mirror (refer attached sketch), -and the two lampshades, referencing the inverted form of nautical beacons, were to shepherd clientele to the bar (refer attached sketch). Where are they now? Derek Stevenson – Turner Townsend Thinc Stuart Webber – ARM Architecture The bar was dismantled during the renovation mid 2019 and reface by another bar.


These documents provide insight into an early 21st C refurbishment to the interior of the MTSV and Mission club operations in the early 21st Century and provides names and details of both the consideration of the need to: protect heritage components, provide a functional service point, incorporate recycled materials that related to aspects of the sea and environment, the flotsam and jetsam that is found where the sea, and those from the sea meets the land. Also provides an example of early career designs by two practising 21st C Australian architects and designers. During the renovations in winter 2019, the decision was made to demolish to make space to another more convenient one brought from a cafe, along with new chairs and tables for the club.