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New South Wales - Organisation

Nautical School Ship 'Vernon' (1867 - 1892)

  • Nautical Sailing Ship Vernon

    Nautical Sailing Ship Vernon, 1867 - 1892, courtesy of State Library of New South Wales.

Government-run, Home, Industrial School and Reformatory
Alternative Names
  • NSS Vernon
  • Vernon
  • Vernon Training Ship

The Vernon was a tall ship purchased by the New South Wales Government in 1867 and converted to a Nautical School Ship. It was a reformatory and industrial school and housed more than 100 boys, training them in nautical and other trades. The Vernon was first anchored between Garden Island and the Government Domain, and from 1871 at Cockatoo Island. The Vernon was replaced by another ship, the Sobraon, in 1892.


The NSS Vernon had been a merchant vessel. In 1867 it was fitted out as an industrial school and reformatory.
NSS Vernon was the only industrial school for boys at the time.

More than 100 boys lived on board the ship, which was anchored alongside a substantial shore facility that stretched between Garden Island and the Government Domain. The shore facility included a gymnasium, a spacious recreation ground, an entertainment hall and a recreation hall.

At first boys learned nautical and industrial skills and trades, as well as receiving 'moral training'. The intention was to fit them for seafaring. In 1871 Vernon was moved to a new mooring at Cockatoo Island. From 1878, under the guidance of Superintendent Frederick William Neitenstein, boys were given proper schooling, physical drills and a system of grades and privileges. They did, however, fraternise with the girls in Biloela, next door on Cockatoo Island, causing problems until the girls were relocated to Parramatta.

Vernon was replaced by Sobraon in 1892. Vernon then was sold and scuttled in Kerosene Bay.


1867 - 1871
Location - N.S.S. Vernon was moored at Garden Island. Location: Garden Island
1871 - 1892
Location - N.S.S. Vernon was moored at Cockatoo Island. Location: Cockatoo Island



  • Rubie, Valerie, Sent to the Mountain: A History of Mount Penang Juvenile Justice Centre, Closure Committee of Mount Penang Juvenile Justice Centre, Gosford, 2003, 236 pp. Details

Online Resources


Nautical Sailing Ship Vernon
Nautical Sailing Ship Vernon
1867 - 1892
State Library of New South Wales


Sources used to compile this entry: Dunn, Mark, 'Vernon nautical training ship', in Dictionary of Sydney, 2008,; 'Mount Penang Juvenile Justice Centre', in State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016,

Prepared by: Naomi Parry