Jan came to the Maritime Museum in search of a photograph of her grandmother. She checked 2,000 glass plate negatives without success but that introduction to the Museum’s collection left Jan hooked. She now volunteers every Monday to accession and document new material that comes into the Museum’s collection.
Jan grew up in Port Adelaide. Her father ran the Newmarket Hotel in Dale Street and Jan remembers him rising at 6 am to provide beer for waterside workers starting and leaving their shifts. Jan sailed at Largs Bay and on the Port River and learnt to swim at Ethelton, dunked in the river tied to a timber pole. The sea runs through her family. Her grandfather won the Foster Cup, the Australian championship for 21-foot restricted class yachts. He also served in the Royal Australian Navy in the First World War crewing HMAS Protector. Jan’s great grandfather, Henry Perry, served on the same ship in a previous war. Henry joined theProtectorwhen it was the flagship of South Australia’s colonial navy for its voyage to China in 1900 to support Britain in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion.
Henry was chief petty officer and caretaker of the Torpedo Station which had been built to guard the Port River. Jan is holding toy furniture that Henry Perry bought in China in 1900, no doubt as a gift for his six children. The furniture, a rare souvenir from a surprising chapter in our history, was generously donated to the Museum by Jan’s cousin, Lillian Harrigan.