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South Australia - Organisation

Boys' Reformatory Hulk, Fitzjames (1880 - 1891)

  • Boys Reformatory Hulk, Fitzjames

    Boys Reformatory Hulk, Fitzjames, 1870? - 1890?, courtesy of Grafton Rowing Club History: Professional Sculling - Jim Stanbury..

Government-run, Home and Reformatory
Alternative Names
  • Fitzjames, The (Also known as)
  • The Reformatory Ship (Also known as)

The Boys' Reformatory Hulk, Fitzjames was refitted as a reformatory for boys by the Destitute Board in 1880. The former Canadian ship was moored at Largs Bay. Boys were brought to the Hulk from Illfracombe Boys Reformatory, the Boys Reformatory, Magill and Magill Industrial School. In 1891 the boys were moved back to the newly renovated Boys Reformatory at Magill.


In 1876 the South Australian Government bought the Fitzjames, a Canadian three masted ship. Unseaworthy, it had been moored in Melbourne's Hobson's Bay since 1866. The Government initially used the vessel as a quarantine hulk and then later, at the encouragement of the Destitute Board, had it refitted to serve as a Reformatory ship for 'uncontrollable' boys who were wards of the State. Prior to 1880 these boys were accommodated at Ilfracombe, a mansion in Burnside temporarily leased for the purpose, and the Boys Reformatory, Magill. Once brought to South Australia the Fitzjames was moored in shallow water at Largs Bay.

Boys from Illfracombe and the Boys Reformatory, Magill, were transferred aboard the Fitzjames. Some boys from the Magill Industrial School were also sent to the Hulk.

On board the vessel, boys underwent 'nautical' training as well as regular schooling. They were under the control of a Superintendent. Boys made their own clothing and boots under the supervision of a tailor and a shoemaker. Other staff on the vessel included the schoolmaster, a carpenter and a cook. Clergymen from various faiths visited the Hulk every Sunday to conduct services. In 1888 a special arrangement was made for Protestant and Catholic boys to attend churches at Semaphore and Port Adelaide respectively. Only a small number of boys 'trained' on this floating reformatory actually went to sea. The majority were placed out on farms.

During its life as a reformatory the Hulk was under constant repair, leaks being a continual problem. Conditions on board for the boys were very harsh. In May 1891 the boys were moved back to the newly renovated Boys Reformatory, Magill.


1880 - 1891
Location - Boys Reformatory Hulk, Fitzjames moored at Largs Bay and False Arm. Location: Largs Bay


 1869 - 1880 Ilfracombe, Boys Reformatory
 1869 - 1880 Boys' Reformatory, Magill
       1880 - 1891 Boys' Reformatory Hulk, Fitzjames
             1891 - 1967 Boys Reformatory, Magill
                   1967 - 1979 McNally Training Centre
                         1979 - 1993 South Australian Youth Training Centre
                               1993 - 2012 Magill Training Centre
                                     2012 - Adelaide Youth Training Centre

Related Archival Items

Related Archival Series

Related Organisations



  • Morley, Charles, The Glandore Story: from Hulk to Haven, Glandore Community Centre Inc, 1995. Details
  • Robb, Simon, The Hulk, Post Taste Media and Publishing, Bulahdelah, 2003. Details

Online Resources


Boys Reformatory Hulk, Fitzjames
Boys Reformatory Hulk, Fitzjames
1870? - 1890?
Grafton Rowing Club History: Professional Sculling - Jim Stanbury.


The Fitzjames
The Fitzjames
c. 1880 - c. 1891
Glandore Community Centre Inc


Sources used to compile this entry: George, Karen, Finding your own way, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc., 2005,

Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George