Image 'Departure of the last of the British troops from Victoria', 1870

TLF ID R3204

This is a wood engraving by Samuel Calvert (1828-1913), measuring 21.5 cm x 35.5 cm and showing the last British troops to depart from Victoria in 1870. In the foreground a crowd of men and women watch soldiers lined up on a Melbourne wharf. There are ships on either side of the wharf, a sailing ship to the left and a steam-powered ship to the right, with many more ships in the bay. A salute is being fired from 12 cannons lined up at the end of the wharf, and smoke billows from the left.



Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset records a milestone in Victoria's colonial independence - although the Australian colonies were self-governing, Britain continued to control defence and foreign affairs, with the colonies responsible for half the costs; the departure of British troops from Victoria signalled that the new colony had successfully begun raising its own voluntary army and navy and consolidating its own police force.
  • It shows the soldiers of the 18th Regiment, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish lined up on the wharf in preparation to leave - the main tasks of British regiments in Australia had been penal duties, policing and peacekeeping, especially on the gold fields; hundreds of British soldiers took their discharge during the late 1860s so they could stay in Australia, with another regiment, the 14th Buckinghamshire, leaving with a complement of only 300 officers and men.
  • It shows a sailing ship on the left and a steam and sail vessel on the right - during the second half of the 19th century, steam was beginning to replace sail, and the self-governing colonies set up their own navies; by 1870 the Victorian Government had commissioned HMS 'Colonial Steam Sloop Victoria', (similar to the ship on the right) while HMS 'Nelson' (similar to the ship on the left) was on permanent loan from Britain.
  • It shows 12 artillery guns lined up across the wharf, with a cloud of smoke billowing from the forward guns indicating the firing of a gun salute - the salute was a mark of respect and the number of rounds fired depended on the place and the occasion.
  • It indicates the importance of the occasion, with the crowds milling on the wharf and tiered grandstand seating constructed on the left - a crowd of greater than 20,000 people was reported at the occasion, which marked the beginning of a new phase of self-reliance on the part of the Australian colonies.
  • It shows the fashions of the era - the women are wearing voluminous, hooped, full-length skirts, jackets and bonnets; the men wear hats, jackets and tapered trousers.
  • It is an example of the work of Samuel Calvert, one of Australia's best-known wood engravers - Calvert moved to Melbourne from Adelaide in 1852, producing illustrations for books, advertisements and illustrated monthly magazines such as 'Melbourne Punch' and the 'Australasian Sketcher'; he also designed postage stamps for the Victorian Government.

Other details

Contributors
  • Content provider
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: National Library of Australia
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of National Library of Australia
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 1870
  • Name: Samuel Calvert
  • Remarks: artist
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 30 Aug 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au
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  • Image
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Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements